December 2007

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2007.

From the economist:

A good graphic can tell a story, bring a lump to the throat, even change policies. Here are three of history’s best…

They chose these 3:

  • Florence Nightingale’s chart of the causes of the deaths of soldiers in the Crimean war
  • Charles Joseph Minard’s chart of Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812
  • William Playfair’s chart of “weekly wages of a good mechanic” and the “price of a quarter of wheat” against monarchs.

death chart


Dennis D. McDonald on data & energy use:

What kind of culture changes will be needed, I wonder, both for energy utility staff and for customers when customers are able to make a much more direct connection between the devices they use at home and their monthly bill? This change has the potential for making the customer-company relationship more interactive than it is now. This raises some interesting questions:

* Who is going to teach customers how to best manage their energy consumption?
* Will the energy company’s call center staff have to develop a new set of counseling and advice-giving skills?
* What new tools will control room staff need to monitor distribution network performance, and will these tools take into account human-supplied information alongside automatically-supplied data from the grid and its increasing number of sensors?

(via jon udell)

David Stephenson writes a great piece arguing for freeing government data:

I suspect my presentation today will be the first time many of you have heard of “transparent government.” It is an exciting new way of treating government data that will blossom as Web 2.0 apps, and what I call the Web 2.0 ethos of cooperation, become commonplace.Among other benefits, transparent government can:

* build public confidence in government
* improve the quality of public debate
* improve delivery of government services

and may even reduce the cost of those services.


(via jon udell)

Found this via Digital Copyright CanadaTerry McBride, NettwerkMusicGroup,

So “Cause” and “Data”, why is this so important to a brand and thus so important to our Artists? In today’s world many fans expect their musical Artists to support causes that reflect what they themselves relate to; view it as supporting a cause through osmosis via the Artist. Such causes can be common things such as fair trade or greening. Or in the case of an Artist like Radiohead, simply a musical style; or State Radio a social stance. In today’s world of instant news and search, the ability of a fan to find out loads of information on an Artist is quite easy, thus the chance to dislike an artist is also easy… Whether we like it or not what you stand for these days is as important as the music for music fans, especially Uber fans. So what causes do you think are key to attracting you to a Musical Artist?

So why is data valuable? Well as in the early days of BDS and Soundscan, data when viewed properly allows one to see patterns of interest that can be monetized in many different ways. Nettwerk in the early days was one of the first companies to correlate data and micro market records on a city-by-city basis. Many Artists such as Sarah and BNL owe their success to such an approach. So looking at Myspace what is valuable data on an Artist page? I, for one, would say that the number of friends is not valuable, yet the number of times a song has been played is. Especially in some cases the second of the four tracks listed. We have found that which ever song is listed first, can actually impact digital track sales. I also think that scanning fan comments can also be valuable as it crowd-sources a general feeling towards the Artist. What other points of Data do you think are key to gleam from something like Myspace? read more …

I spend lots of time looking at science, social science, qualitative data and quantitative data, but had not thought of data form the music scene. Of course there is data, of course it has a purpose, and of course it is critical to the industry!


New project funded by the EU, Communia, from the about:

The main goal of the COMMUNIA project is to build a network of organisations that shall become the single European point of reference for high-level policy discussion and strategic action on all issues related to the public domain in the digital environment, as well as related topics such as alternative forms of licensing for creative material (including, but not limited to, Creative Commons licenses), open access to scientific publications and research results, management of works whose authors are unknown (i.e. orphan works).


the CLA has submitted a Copyright Letter to Ministers Verner, Prentice.  The letter discusses the cost of government data among other interesting points important to that community.

An excellent post on the development of Government Open Data Principles. These were developed at an O’Reilly and Associates workshop. Ethan Zuckerman provides some excellent background on his blog and a Open Data WiKi is accepting comments and of course collaboration. Has this been done anywhere else?

Government data shall be considered open if it is made public in a way that complies with the principles below:

1. Complete
All public data is made available. Public data is data that is not subject to valid privacy, security or privilege limitations.

2. Primary
Data is as collected at the source, with the highest possible level of granularity, not in aggregate or modified forms.

3. Timely
Data is made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data.

4. Accessible
Data is available to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes.

5. Machine processable
Data is reasonably structured to allow automated processing.

6. Non-discriminatory
Data is available to anyone, with no requirement of registration.

7. Non-proprietary
Data is available in a format over which no entity has exclusive control.

8. License-free
Data is not subject to any copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret regulation. Reasonable privacy, security and privilege restrictions may be allowed.

There have been some waves on the web about Canada’s expected copyright legislation. For some info, see:

I just sent a letter (as a private citizen) to a number of pols, including my MP and Industry Minister Jim Prentice:

Dear Minister Prentice:

I am disturbed by the Government’s announcement that a new copyright bill will be tabled in December, without any public consultation. Copyright is a crucial issue for Canadian competitiveness – in education, science, business, and culture. All indications are that overly restrictive copyright laws stifle innovation, yet this is exactly what the Government appears to be tabling. A restrictive copyright bill could have disastrous effects on the future of the country.

The most important problem is that the Government is tabling a bill without consultations with Canadians, so that a full range of voices has not been heard. This means that the best decision cannot be made, and instead narrow interests of those who *do* have the Government’s ear are likely to trump what is good for the future of the country.

The bill, apparently, is likely to include anti-circumvention provisions (digital locks on machines so that using the things Canadians buy, the way they wish to use them will be illegal). These provisions have proved to create significant harm to education, privacy protection, security, research, free speech, and consumer interests.

The bill does not address crucial issues such as protecting parody, time shifting, device shifting, and the making of backup copies. Further, it does not address outdated and innovation-stifling crown copyright, or restrict statutory damages awards to cases of commercial infringement.

The government last consulted Canadians on digital copyright issues in 2001. The Internet and technology use have changed dramatically since then, yet the Government has done little – that I am aware of – to find out what implications these changes have on Canadians. On businesses, on teachers, on regular people.

As a small web business owner, I am shocked that the Government would charge ahead on such important legislation without doing the work required to understand the implications properly, without doing the work required to find out how it will impact Canadians, and what it is that Canadians actually want.

Please reconsider this dangerous approach.

Best regards,

Listen to Jon Udell talking to: “Greg Whisenant, founder of, wants every city to make its crime data usefully available to citizens in the same kinds of ways that famously does.”