Big Data is a big deal, but what about Open Data? That is, the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents, or other mechanisms of control.
I was curious about it and, against that backdrop, read Open Data Now: The Secret to Hot Startups, Smart Investing, Savvy Marketing, and Fast Innovation (affiliate link) by Joel Gurin. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical of the premise behind this book. There’s so much hype about data-related matters and much of what’s written is either way too technical, theoretical, and/or just not very good.
Not this book.
Gurin takes the reader on an exciting, example-laden journey into the exploding world of Open Data. To be fair, since I play in this area, I had heard of Kaggle, Innocentive, TopCoder, and a few of the other companies profiled. (I touch upon each of those in Too Big to Ignore.) I hadn’t heard of many others, though, including the fascinating PublikDemand, a telecomm’s worst nightmare.
More than Just a Glossary of Startups
Gurin does much more than merely list startups, though. He explains what they’re doing, why, and the long-term impacts on all sorts of industries (read: green tech, pharama, financial services, and scores of others.)
Gurin’s wide, not deep approach works here.
Gurin’s wide, not deep approach works here. To the extent that Open Data is a relatively new phenomenon–at least on this scale, accentuating only several examples wouldn’t have been as effective. By demonstrating the variety of industries and companies benefiting from Open Data, the read walks away excited about the possibilities and, later in the book, the challenges.
Excellent. This one’s a keeper.