Peer-to-Peer

Making best use of interrelated information

On the topic of the ‘data deluge’, Sarah Kemmitt notes at Nature Network that the UK Government has opted for an increasingly used technique (see, for example, Elsevier’s Grand Challenge) to scope ideas for a strategy for how to make best use of interrelated information.

Sarah refers to the British Cabinet Office’s Power of Information Taskforce project ‘Show Us a Better Way’, which is asking for suggestions to develop better ways to publish the vast swathes of non-personal information that the government collects and creates, using the incentive of a competition (here is a BBC article about the initiative). From the Show Us a Better Way website:

Ever been frustrated that you can’t find out something that ought to be easy to find? Ever been baffled by league tables or ‘performance indicators’? Do you think that better use of public information could improve health, education, justice or society at large?

The UK Government wants to hear your ideas for new products that could improve the way public information is communicated. The Power of Information Taskforce is running a competition on the Government’s behalf, and we have a £20,000 prize fund to develop the best ideas to the next level. You can see the type of thing we are are looking for here.

To show they are serious, the Government is making available gigabytes of new or previously invisible public information especially for people to use in this competition.

Yesterday (8 July), a week after the competition was announced, 150 ideas had been submitted. Sarah finds it interesting that both business and government are realizing that the ‘power of the crowd’ and offering a prize may be a cost-effective way of harnessing innovative ideas around postmodern challenges. Your views are welcome at her Nature Network post.

Sarah is part of the British Library TalkScience team, and is a co-founder of the Nature Network group Scientific Researchers and Web 2.0: Social Not-working? All are welcome to join the group and contribute to the conversation, in advance of a meeting in September for a focused discussion of the topic.

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