Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Data is not enough

So Richard Wurman is the guy who wrote Information Anxiety and is also responsible for the TED conference. Once only available to the 1000 audience members at each TED, some of the TEDtalks are now being made available online.

The first TEDTalk I checked out was by Hans Rosling - "a public health expert, director of Sweden's world-renowned Karolinska Institute, and founder of Gapminder, a non-profit that brings vital global data to life". I was really impressed. First, it only took a matter of moments to change the way that I look at what is happening in the "third world".

Secondly, it struck a nerve in my librarian self. Hans makes a quiet but strong case for the need to make publicly available data interesting and useful to the public. And they aren't using libraries to get the data out: they are using software and the internet. Its another example that drives the point that it is no longer enough just to make public information available in a library somewhere. Public information needs public software to make the information work for the public.

Let's put it another way. Which would you rather use: this or this?