[okfn-labs] Recline, view-sharing, and journalists

Tom Rees tom.rees at okfn.org
Mon May 28 15:16:19 UTC 2012

Hello Recliners and Labs people,
I wanted to share a little bit of feedback from my recent trip to
Transparency Camp in Washington DC. I met a lot of people interested in
open data and particularly open government, as well as the journalism
surrounding all that technology. Ultimately I ended up talking about CKAN
an awful lot, and demonstrating the in-browser power of Recline, which was
warmly received.

One of the most interesting discussions centred around whether it would be
a good idea using GitHub for data management. (It wouldn't). Dedicated
DMS'es such as datahub.io provides a much better system in nearly all
aspects, except for one: Pull requests. Obviously this is GitHub's headline
feature, so why haven't we done something similar? -- I contend that the
use case for a data pull request is a weak one, and people only want them
because they would be kind of cool rather than kind of useful.

Generally this was met with agreement. As one journalist in the room said:
If you're accepting pull requests, the veracity of your data is ruined. If
a third party "cleans up" government-published data then it loses all
authority, and she cannot use it in a story.

However, data often DOES need cleaning up and/or refining into a
visualisation, and this is a pain point which Recline can address. The data
explorer gives people a way to *transparently *refine data and *share it
with other people*, and this is incredibly useful to journalists. Filters &
Facets are already powerful; if users can (one example feature) define a
column *c* which equals *a / b* then Recline could become an incredibly
vital tool among data journalists who want to develop and share a dataset
and most importantly "show their working".

People were using the slang term "view sharing" for this kind of thing
which I have never heard of, nor has Google, but it makes sense. So this is
what I wanted to share: If Recline wants a niche market of real users to
target, this could be one. Others among you might be way ahead of me on
this but we were only just connecting the dots last month. Any thoughts,

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