[okfn-labs] Frictionless Data Vision and Roadmap

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Tue Jan 21 14:03:45 UTC 2014


*There is now a short Frictionless Data "vision" doc online at:*

http://data.okfn.org/vision

It is based on input from various people and comments would be warmly
welcome. I've excerpted some of it below for those who prefer info in the
mail client.

Regards,

Rufus

## Frictionless Data Ecosystem

There's too much friction working with data - friction getting data,
friction processing data, friction sharing data.

This friction stops people doing stuff: stops them creating, sharing,
collaborating, and using data - especially amongst more distributed
communities.

It kills the cycles of find, improve, share that would make for a dynamic,
productive and attractive (open) data ecosystem.

We need to make an ecosystem that, like open-source for software, is useful
and attractive to those without any principled interest, the vast majority
who simply want the best tool for the job, the easiest route to their goal.

We think that by getting a few key pieces in place we can reduce friction
enough to revolutionize how the (open) data ecosystem operates with
massively improved data quality, utilization and sharing.

We think this because there's a multiplier here that means relatively small
changes can have big effects. This multiplier is Network effects: the
utility of a particular standard, pattern or even tool depends on how many
other people are using it. This means that creating a critical mass of use
around the tooling and standards will have a huge effect. This isn't easy.
But after working on these issues for nearly a decade we think the time is
right.

## A Metaphor

Today, when you decide to cook, the ingredients are readily available at
local supermarkets or even already in your kitchen. You don't need to
travel to a farm, collect eggs, mill the corn, cure the bacon etc - as you
once would have done! Instead, thanks to standard systems of measurement,
packaging, shipping (e.g. containerization) and payment ingredients can get
from the farm direct to my local shop or even my door.

But with data we're still largely stuck at this early stage: every time you
want to do an analysis or build an app you have to set off around the
internet to dig up data, extract it, clean it and prepare it before you can
even get it into your tool and begin your work proper.

What do we need to do for the working with data to be like cooking today -
where you get to spend your time making the cake (creating insights) not
preparing and collecting the ingredients (digging up and cleaning data)?

The answer: radical improvements in the "logistics2 of data associated with
specialisation and standardisation. In analogy with food we need standard
systems of "measurement", packaging, and transport so that its easy to get
data from its original source into the application where I can start
working with it.

## What We Want To Do

We start with an advantage: unlike for physical goods transporting digital
information from one computer to another is very cheap!

This means the focus can be on standardizing and simplifying the process of
getting data from one application to another (or one form to another).

The following gives an overview of the main areas of work. There is more
detail in the Roadmap <http://data.okfn.org/roadmap>.
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