[okfn-discuss] Suggestion for a data portability fact sheet

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Fri Sep 9 15:11:25 UTC 2011

On Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 1:26 PM, Sebastian Wain <
sebastian.wain at databigbang.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> I just want to share an article that I wrote some weeks ago:
> http://blog.databigbang.com/**the-data-portability-fact-**sheet/<http://blog.databigbang.com/the-data-portability-fact-sheet/>
> It's about the need to clarify what are the real limits of the web APIs
> being offered.
> I am glad that it was included as supporting material at a SXSW 2012 panel:
> http://www.gluu.org/?p=508
Thank you so much for this. It is one of the most important challenges we
face today. I create "Open Data" repositories and I am aware how difficult
it is to make them truly Open even if I try.

However almost all the bioscience databases are effectively Open in that:
* you can use and re-use and redistribute
* you can - if you work hard - download the whole database (this is the
hardest bit)

The OKF Open Service Definition is an important start. I think we have to

* anyone has the right to fork the data
* the Open Data implementer must provide a mechanism to fork.

This does not mean that forking is good, only that it must be forkable. Of
course forking a dynamic resource is not easy and it may only be a snapshot.
But we must make best endeavour.

Hybrid databases (with some open, some closed) data are effectively closed.

We have a real problem with initiatives such as Figshare - Mark Hahnel who
runs it asks how we can guarantee Openness. I don't know. Maybe there has to
be a governance committee. Or maybe we have to deposit in a National Library
at very regular intervals.

But as you say one of the most important questions. And the OKF should be
able to help.

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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