There was a short article in the New York Times the other day about a quietly launched new government website called data.gov. The purpose of the site is to collect the amazing wealth of information created in the agencies of the US government in one place and make it freely accessible to anyone.
We open source-minded folks think that is just swell. In fact, this subject has been of interest to me for a long time. When I was right out of college and working for the literary agent Rafe Sagalyn, we actually wrote two books intended to help people find the great information the government was putting together for us, but not doing a good job actually getting to us.
The first was a book called Uncle Sam’s Guide to the Great Outdoors, which told you how and where to write or call the government to get information sent to you before you planned a trip into the American wilderness: national parks, forest, wildlife preserves, and whatnot.
It was all great until this dumb Internet thing came along and made it easy for people to access this sort of information online. Now that book is a relic of a bygone era of phone calls and manila envelopes.
But actual government datasets… that’s a much more complicated issue. Until now, it’s been very hard to get broad, searchable access to these datasets without advanced knowledge or tools. And they’ve certainly never been in one place and one standard format before. Data.gov is just a start, but I love the philosophy of the site so much I’m including it here:
Yesterday Red Hat’s brand manager, John Adams, showed me a New York Times article about Intel’s new brand campaign that they call “The Sponsors of Tomorrow” that launches on Monday.
From the Times article:
[The campaign] focuses on the amusingly weird, technology-focused culture of Intel and celebrates the company’s role in the future, rather than the present… the ads highlight achievements of Intel engineers in a humorous way.
The campaign is Intel’s first ever that focuses on the brand rather than products… and that’s where its power comes from.
…ad executives began spending time at Intel, and noticed its appealing culture. “We started thinking about Intel, like, ‘OK, what’s it like in the cafeteria when they’re in there eating lunch together?’ There’s got to be a whole hierarchy of people in there who they admire,” Mr. Bell said.
There first few bits are pretty funny and showcase the weird rock star computer nerd culture that exists in every tech company I’ve ever seen. It will be very interesting to see where Intel takes this… and how the public reacts. I’m kind of digging it myself!