- WEB STARTUPS
- WEB JOBS
- ALL TOPICS
The New York City Council Committee on Technology will hold another open discussion later this month. This time the session will discuss open data standards for city data. From the city announcement, “This bill, Introduction 029-2010 (formerly Intro. 991-2009), is an effort to increase government transparency and facilitate easier access to public data. Beyond the ‘good government’ benefits of this legislation, the bill will also unlock City data to enable web developers and entrepreneurs to interact with City government in new and unforeseen ways. Data published under this legislation will be readable by any computer device, whether that is a laptop or a phone, for innovative developments. This Gov 2.0 inspired transparency legislation, targets application developers, startups, small businesses, and academics with the ultimate goal of strengthening the connection between government and the public, while re-energizing the small business-tech sectors.”
“Furthermore, the data requirements of Int. 991 would publish data in formats allowing the tech community to interact with City government in a new and exciting manner. Just imagine looking at a restaurant’s ratings (and violations) on your computer or mobile device based on your search or GPS location. On the academic side, students can research legislation and statistics instantly. Open access to information ensures government accountability to provide the most detailed and user-friendly data format, while maintaining user privacy. Essentially, government transparency generates greater collaboration between the people and the government, as it fosters awareness for the local community.”
The group should talk with the MTA about their efforts to pull in developers and how they are handling open data. I think the MTA is doing a great job in this area and there’s really no reason for the city to spend the time to “discuss” when the city could spend the time to “do”.
The discussion will take place at 250 Broadway which is next to City Hall on June 21. You can find out more details along with the links to apply to testify on the city council blog.
Here’s hoping more comes out of this discussion than the one I sat through late last year discussing how the city can help tech startups.
Some big news today in the NYC transit sector. Finally the MTA has created a way for developers to download a variety of data files for usage in Web and mobile apps. The data is available in the GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification) format. We’ve watched the MTA threaten lawsuits for data usage and now in just a few months they have completely reversed course. I guess that’s what an extra quarter on the fare gets ya!
Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock has put together an excellent overview of the available data and the pros and cons of today’s release. I agree with Nicholas that you shouldn’t have to give the MTA every bit of personal information to get access to the data files. So far there’s no real-time data and the MTA Bus data is also missing (side rant, why the MTA still breaks out the MTA Bus as a separate group is beyond me – consumers don’t care how you are organized internally).
I’m still waiting for the NYC version of this Swiss Trains real-time mashup. We’ve covered several transit apps on our sister site InsideTransit including ExitStrategy which helps you figure out where to stand for maximim effectiveness. I very much look forward to the new crop of NYC transit apps that will be arriving soon on track 11.
The NY Open Transit Data group will hold their next meeting on January 20th. I plan to be at the meeting – leave a note in the comments if you plan to attend or have questions you’d like me to get answers to.
Apologies in advance for a semi-technical post on a Friday night but I think it’s a topic worth discussing. Over the past few months I’ve noticed more and more sites that are copying pieces of content from one social service and placing it into another social service or blog/website. Is this a good idea?
If I post a message on Twitter, it is instantly copied to my Friendfeed account. If I delete that twit message, it is not removed from Friendfeed. I selected to have Friendfeed read and aggregate my Twitter account so the behavior makes sense on the display side. Since Friendfeed can read and write to Twitter, can’t they just read the current status of messages?
I’ve also noticed more blogs sucking in content from Twitter and Friendfeed. It’s a smart move for the blogs because it makes for more monetizable content and can also make a blog appear more active. Some blogs appear to be scraping the content on their own, some are using comment aggregation services like Disqus. I asked Disqus about their social comment aggregation and was told that they store the aggregated comments on Disqus’ servers. Unlike Friendfeed where I specifically told them to aggregate my content, I didn’t authorize my comments to be aggregated on other blogs, etc. And with regards to Disqus, when I make a comment on Twitter or Friendfeed that is scraped back to the Disqus database, I don’t believe that it’s placed into my Disqus account. This makes it even harder for me to manage. Of course I have practically zero recourse for the blogs that scrape friendfeed/twitter directly.
My take is that it’s fine to display content from other social services but it should be a display only — not/never a store and retain. This way if the content creator decides to delete or edit the content, the updated version will be the one displayed across the Web.
Perhaps this is a data portability topic?
As more social aggregation services pop up and blogs look for more content to monetize, I believe this issue will become a hot topic this year.
Oracle has announced plans to acquire Sun for $7.4 billion today. The transaction is valued at approximately $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun’s cash and debt. Oracle has setup a special informational site regarding the transaction. This deal comes weeks after talks between IBM and Sun dissolved.
Oracle President Charles Phillips noted regarding the deal, “Our customers have been asking us to step up to a broader role to reduce complexity, risk, and cost by delivering a highly-optimized standards-based product stack. Oracle plans to deliver these benefits by offering a broad range of products, including servers and storage, with all the integrated pieces: hardware operating system, database, middleware and applications. We plan to preserve and enhance investments made by our customers, while we continue to work with our partners to provide customers with choice.”
Regarding Linux Oracle notes, “Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other platforms and will continue to support and enhance our strong industry partnerships.” Naturally there is no discussion in the announcement about staffing changes and potential layoffs from the overlap of the two companies.
Oracle also picks up MySQL, the database used by this and many other bloggers and web applications. Sun acquired MySQL last year for $1 billion.
The companies expect the deal to close this summer.
DandyID is a new Rhode Island-based startup that the founders say is, "a one-stop shop for data collection and portability." They provide a suite of tools to manage your online identity. They support over 300 sites and developers can pull data from their service via the API. It’s almost like a social OpenID as you can use your DandyID to register on services that are setup as partners.
The partner sites can also use the DandyID API to find other friends on each network based on their DandyID profile. Certainly sounds more interesting than say the "defaults" on Twitter.
I had a chance to meet with DandyID co-founders Sara Czyzewicz and Arron Kallenberg — check out our video below. They also discuss the API contest where developers can win a bunch of prizes by creating an interesting build on top of DandyID.
We initially covered Blist when they launched at DEMO a year ago and then they raised $6.5 million later in February 2008. Blist helps you share data online. The tool usage ranges from simple databases for to-do lists through corporate CRM projects.
Today Blist is announcing the launch of Blist Widgets. The widgets can be used to display data from a Blist file or they can also be used to capture data from users. It’s a good way to create a collaborative workspace for data. The idea is to replace the static HTML table with a more rich experience using a Blist widget. The widgets look like good competitors to the Google Docs widgets.
Interestingly, when I load the widget in IE7, it loads fine the first time. If I browse away from the window (minimize, change tabs, etc.) and then come back to the widget window, the widget disappears.
The Blist team also noted that new U.S. President Barack Obama is using the Blist widgets on the change.gov website. Xconomy has a good article about the Obama tie. Here’s an example Blist widget:
Online file storage service Box.net has announced the launch of a localized version in France. The French version follows the following other localized versions: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, German, Italian, Portuguese, Danish and Russian.
Box.net points to heavy usage by the France Trade Office in San Francisco sending files back to team members in France and that the new localized language version making communications easier.
What’s unknown is whether they used free crowdsourced labor to translate the application or had the service professionally translated. I can’t imagine there is a lot of content to translate anyway. I am confused as to why they don’t push the localized versions on the Box homepage?
Box.net also notes that they have partnered with Dell to serve online file storage on the Dell Mini.
In other online file storage news, it looks like Omnidrive has finally closed up shop. The domain currently points to a credit sales service.