Notes about data

January 31, 2012 permalink

What Sumerians Can Teach Us About Data

Gathering data is not a neutral act, it will alter the power balance, usually in favor of the people collecting the information.

From What the Sumerians can teach us about data, a blog post noting that the predecessor of writing was the depiction of data, a concept that helped establish the hierarchical systems of power in the early city-states. (I like his comparison between the data-protecting curses inscribed on the cuneiform tablets and the FBI WARNING notices on VHS!)

July 3, 2010 permalink

Open Data Literacy

It is worth remembering: We didn’t build libraries for an already literate citizenry. We built libraries to help citizens become literate. Today we build open data portals not because we have a data or public policy literate citizenry, we build them so that citizens may become literate in data, visualization, coding and public policy.

David Eaves argues that the best way to foster a data-literate society is to open the floodgates on open data, creating niches for discussion and analysis to engage the citizenry in much the same semi-guided way that public libraries provided in the 19th Century.

(Via Radar)

November 23, 2009 permalink

NASA’s Be a Martian

NASA has launched (pardon the sorta pun) a new website for kids called Be a Martian, with various games that allow them to rack up points and earn badges as they learn about the red planet. The interesting twist? The games are actually crowdsourced work, real data sorting through the aligning of map images taken by Mars Odyssey explorer with elevation images from the Mars Global Surveyor project. Kids play a game, NASA gets useful data that’s otherwise hard to get computationally. The Register has a good writeup of the project.

June 23, 2009 permalink

The Final Footage from the JAXA KAGUYA / Selene moon probe

The final footage from the Japanese JAXA KAGUYA/Selene moon probe’s telemetry camera before it crashed to the surface (as planned). There’s something poignant about these last bits of video – after the years of engineering, planning, and information-gathering, it’s got to be hard not to personify the things. See also my favorite science/UI video of all time: final telemetry from the NASA Huygens probe.