Remember when the Internet was sold to us as a technology that would grant unprecedented access to important data, radically democratizing information? Well, we got a little sidetracked with pornography and sneezing pandas, but we’re finally getting around to it!
Maryland will become the latest (with an emphasis on “late” — 30 other states have already beaten us to it) to implement an “Open Data” program, which would make thousands of state documents available to the public via the Internet. (Gosh, remember the late ’90s when we were constantly using the phrase “via the Internet” just to hear ourselves say it?)
For over a year, Baltimore has been running a similar program with its city documents. And according to The Sun, it’s been used by Sun reporters “many times.” “OpenBaltimore” applications even helped the paper build an interactive map of speed camera locations in and around the city.
The state hasn’t figured out yet exactly what data is the most important to make available, or in what format it would be most useful. And that’s what makes this kind of old-school, information-superhighway Internet project so exciting. You can almost feel the paradigm shifting. Listen, I know that we’re just talking about government documents here, but seriously, this could be really cool.
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