Government 2.0 Taskforce » Copyright Design by Ben Crothers of Catch Media Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:29 +0000 en hourly 1 Canberra one day, London the next Sun, 25 Oct 2009 23:52:21 +0000 Nicholas Gruen

Yes folks, a few hours after I was seen in Canberra at the CeBit Gov2 Conference last week I was seen in London talking about PSI.

Having cancelled my trip to London to focus on report writing, I made a video with a few hours (and anxious moments) to spare and uploaded 53 Megs of PSI so that it could be downloaded in London, and it apparently got there and was played with nary a technical hitch.

I’m not a big fan of watching videos – because it’s so much quicker to read transcripts. Alas at this stage there is no transcript. So if you want to watch it, you can view it below.

The ideas I developed were:

  • That opening up PSI is an extension of the principles of competition policy (which were about getting the market access to important infrastructure at marginal cost (OK well at average cost, but if the asset has already been built by the public sector, the optimal price is marginal cost.)
  • The importance of serendipity and the according importance of licencing PSI in a way analogous to APIs for software, which is to say CC.
  • A possible transition from where we are now with PSI 1.0 if I might call it that in which governments supply their data for further value adding towards a model in which the public provide more of that data (quoting the paper I quoted in the Inquiries 2.0 blog post).
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Innovate, Mash, Camp: Govt 2.0 Contest Update Tue, 22 Sep 2009 06:56:22 +0000 Mia Garlick A while back, we outlined some of the contests we hoped to hold that would demonstrate gov2.0 objectives, engage the community and be fun.

Given some months (and lots of work) has now elapsed, it seems timely to give a little update about where we are up to…

# a government innovation contest:

The government innovation contest was launched in early September, along with a structured brainstorming contest and a dataset nomination contest. These closed two days ago, on Sunday 20 September, and we had a great response. Thank you!! The results from these contests will be announced shortly.

# an open access to PSI + the ‘tools of liberation’ contest:


This is the one that I personally am most excited about. We are on track for launching this, possibly as early as next week. The combined forces of the Secretariat and my colleagues at DBCDE (thanks Judi and James) have been hard at work securing the agreement of at least 12 (yep, count them) federal agencies and at least four (possibly more) out of our seven states and territories to release datasets for use in the contest … (drum roll) in RDF, XML, JSON, CSV or XLS formats and under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia license.

Consistent with global trends for the release of government data and a significant achievement for a country with Crown Copyright and without (presently, at least) a national information policy, we have enough people working with foresight within our federal and state governments who were happy to release data for this contest on real open access terms/formats.

# NEW NEW NEW: mashup camp(s)

We realise that data doesn’t just mash itself up. We also want to bring the community together to share and collaborate. In an effort to do this, we are working on organising at least one mashup camp to be held in Sydney in late October/ early November. We also hope to hold one in Canberra in mid-October. Just to give y’all a heads up that we are trying to give you a formal forum to get your innovative juices flowing to mashup the data that we have liberated.

# a makeover:

Unfortunately, this contest will not be going ahead. We haven’t been able to get enough agencies interested in sufficient time to allow this to be completed during the Taskforce’s lifetime (which ends in December). All experience is good experience though and it shows us all how challenging it can be to get the necessary sign-offs for new and innovative ideas within a short time-frame within government.

More soon….feedback welcome….

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Liberating heritage collections (Part One) Fri, 11 Sep 2009 04:37:21 +0000 Adrian Cunningham What does Government 2.0 mean for the world of archives, records and information management more broadly? The short answer is, much more than you might have thought. A longer answer follows (in somewhat discursive form)…..

First of all it provides a tremendous opportunity to unlock the hidden potential of archival collections. Public institutions in Australia hold hundreds, probably thousands, of shelf-kilometres of archival materials. Because of funding and other practical limitations the majority of this material is difficult to get access to. Because archives are created in the course of organisations and individuals going about their business, they are not created with a view to making it easy for some future researcher to find their way through them.

Archival catalogues and finding aids aim to assist researchers navigate their way through these collections, but the sheer bulk of most public archives and relatively small number of archivists employed to catalogue them inevitably means that, for most archival holdings, researchers need to be clever, persistent and a little lucky to find what they might be looking for. Add to this the fact that the physical location of original paper records is usually hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from where most Australians live and it is not surprising that very few rarely ever darken the doorstep of an archival institution, much less pluck up the courage to try to make sense of the often bewildering catalogues and finding aids.

The advent of the Web has been changing that paradigm, such that now many archives have web interfaces to their finding aids and are busy placing digitised copies of records on the web for easy (though not always free) access. Statistics tell us that this approach to providing access to archives is overwhelmingly popular with both established and new users. Indeed, community expectations are such that if archival resources are not available on the Web they may as well not exist as far as the overwhelming majority of users are concerned. Web 2.0 offers an almost infinite array of possibilities for opening up avenues for access to and use of these resources. There are enormous possibilities for mashups, clever visualisations and user tagging of resources.

Harnessing the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ means that we can have millions of ‘archivists’ now creating metadata and archival finding aids – indeed whole new online archival collections, not just the overworked handful of archivists who have these duties in their job descriptions. For instance, the National Archives of Australia’s Mapping our Anzacs site mashes digitised copies of World War 1 service records and their archival metadata with geospatial metadata to provide a whole new means of access to and navigation of these popular records. In addition, a scrapbook facility allows users to upload their own family history information, hyperlinks and digitised records relating to the individual concerned – thus creating a much more valuable set of historical resources.

Copyright can be a major headache for archives wishing to make their collections more available an useable. Usually archives, while they might own their physical collections as objects, they will not own the copyright that resides in them. To make matters worse, according to the Copyright Act unpublished ‘manuscripts’ (ie archives) are in perpetual copyright. Yes that’s right – they are in copyright FOREVER unless the copyright owner (if they can be found) gives permission for them to be published. I think Australia is the only country anywhere that has such a strange provision in its statute books.

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