Thursday 5 August 2010

SAGE: Syndication, AGgregation & Entitlement

For-free vs. for-fee is an issue that won't go away any time soon. I discussed this here before, and it came up recently with the adoption of OpenStreetMap on Bing Maps and In a macro sense it's about data, systems and traffic control, as evidenced by the lock-down of Google search and Blackberry access in China and parts of the Middle East, respectively. At a micro scale it came up in a discussion group on LinkedIn: who owns map symbology derived from public sources?

To name but two, earlier on and recently opened up public data sources. There are many ways for authors to fine-tune their data entitlement - this blog (see at right) and my work web use Creative Commons - and others such as WeoGeo, GeoCommons and Ordnance Survey offer specific mechanisms for various clienteles.
In other words, it's codifying in a pre-agreed manner how authors and distributors make data available to the public rather than specialists. Enter the eponymous SAGE, coined by Schlumberger's Olivier lePeuch almost a decade ago.
This goes well beyond the three definitions found on Wikipedia. Today it would be VGI (volunteer geographic information), truly a neologism judging by its Wikipedia entry! It's the public's willingness to share information well beyond past norms of the institutions they belong to... Clay Shirky discussed this change already in 2005 TED broadcast and developed it further in last month's Cognitive Surplus broadcast. If we're willing to put data out there, however, it's another one to do it and protect its authoring and derivation.

The biggest upside to any geoinformation system - desktop, internet or hand-held - is its ability to overlay the datasets and thus enhance them. Today it's called mashups, and it's the bulk of my discussions here. While there are multitudinous issues around the metadata (go to p. 27) to ensure that all these datasets are correlatable, the simple fact that almost all of them have a location enables their aggregation via coordinates.

Neither is it easy to accumulate and publish geodata, nor is it to ensure that only those who are entitled to it get to what they need simply and easily. It is also a multi-facetted issue:
  • it's economics, discussed in the news around, say, the music industry
  • it's culture, broadcast in the news on Google and Blackberry as above
  • and it's politics, ranging from national security to individual privacy

While journalists have been in the (un)enviable position to relate most of the above, their priviliges and responsibilities have been in flux since day one. Twenty odd years ago I helped Des Kilfoil of CBC in Calgary, Canada run a workshop on how to report current affairs in natural resources (a company had recently been bankrupt by inapropriate reporting). Today the BBC's College of Journalism is a gold mine on the same topic.
I use Sian Williams' videos to help me write this blog - for example I now post all but the current blog page as a Top line followed by a Read more.

Let me close with a humorous look at the really deep issues underlying this - none less than our purpose in society - called in my work blog: Pavlov 2.0.

Disclosure: in no way am I affiliated with any party mentioned except were identified.

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