A New Economy of Data

March 30, 2011
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There is a revolution in data. Yet the revolution is not as much a new technology as it is a new economy of data. Technology has made it easy for every web and mobile app, from social networks and twitter mashups to daily deal sites and iPhone memo apps to quickly and easily store, edit, and update their own data. In fact, the growth of the social web across all social media and social networks has created an underground metropolis of databases.

There is a revolution in data. Yet the revolution is not as much a new technology as it is a new economy of data. Technology has made it easy for every web and mobile app, from social networks and twitter mashups to daily deal sites and iPhone memo apps to quickly and easily store, edit, and update their own data. In fact, the growth of the social web across all social media and social networks has created an underground metropolis of databases.

Data sounds boring and technical, or perhaps scary and private, but the truth about data (or the next era of “data 2.0”) is that all these hundreds of thousands of blogs, social networks, mobile apps need to securely access each other’s data. Personal data aside, if you wanted to build an awesome mobile restaurant review geolocation app you don’t want to build your own database of all restaurants, you don’t want to have to update the restaurant database (hopefully someone bigger than you keeps it updated for you), and you might even want to seed your app with restaurant reviews from somewhere else. In other words, you can’t build your app until you get access to someone else’s data.

This is one of the biggest hurdles for 2011: how these hundreds of thousands of web and mobile apps can access, aggregate, or collaborate on data using services like SimpleGeo, Factual, Socrata, Data.gov, or any of the 50+ data startups at the Data 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Monday, April 4th.

My personal passion for “data 2.0” questions revolves around one central discussion. Will these hundreds of thousands of web and mobile apps each have their own private database and their own API amidst a jungle of API’s calling other API’s, or is there a possibility of a more “centralized” shared database environment like Google Freebase? Yet equally important are the ideas and topics around “what to do with this new online access to data”. 

The Data 2.0 Conference is on April 4th in San Francisco, and you can access our press release here.