Last Fall I joined the Board of Directors for CITF, the Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation, and now that I’ve had a half-year’s worth of meetings, grant requests, and extracurricular work, I wanted to get some thoughts down here.First off, I really enjoy the rhythm and nature of a Board. I’ve served as the Chairman of the Queen of Angels School Board, and the acts of creating an agenda, communicating with members, and driving to decisions always made sense to me. I like the formality of motions, discussion, and voting– it leads to a refreshing form of accountability and discipline. I also like the labor that comes in-between meetings– the extra work that you do, usually based on your interests or skills.At the CITF, we fund media activities to promote progressive social change. That means I get to review funding applications from educators, filmmakers, and technologists who care about the same things I do, and fashion their work in ways that are meaningful. Powerful stuff.While I’m relatively new to this idea of helping decide which projects to fund, I’m more accustomed to being on the other end of the ask. At Queen of Angels I helped start the Development Committee and worked on the inevitable Annual Ball. I relied on outside funding for all of my book and drama projects in the late 80s and early/ mid 90s, and everyone was paid back.Funds make the world go around, and it’s nice to be a part of the world.
Governments have started opening data for many reasons: it is a politically positive action and it alleviates the responsibility of analyzing and interpreting the data internally. Social Networks open data so they can become more valuable as the hub of many spokes, since 3rd parties will develop applications that make their data more valuable. Will traditional businesses open their data? Are some forms of data such as financial data necessarily closed-off and high-priced?
One of the things I focused on in my remarks was that governments already publish a wealth of data; they just may not conceive of these efforts as a part of the “open data” movement. For example, New York City has spreadsheets of every building permit issued going back to 2003. It’s not a “data feed”, but it’s definitely useful. The nascent industry built around open government stands on the shoulders of these spreadsheet-makers.