by Matt Rosenberg March 22nd, 2012
It’s brief, and we hope you’ll take a look at our Public Data Ferret project’s entry in the Knight News Challenge funding competition, for innovative news start-ups. Add a supportive comment if you like – very soon please – finalists will be announced April 2 – and share the link and a brief introduction with your networks on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr. The theme this round is use of existing “networks” and platforms, which includes what we do: building on online government information sources; and building awareness and working partnerships around our work in the community. We’re humbled by the supportive response so far, that you’ll see in the 40-plus comments from hyper-local bloggers, news professionals, technologists, educators, students, readers and others. Here are several comments among the many posted that really capture the value propositions we’re trying to embody.
In the digital age we are drowning in information and opinion, but there is an urgent need in most communities for facts; the kind of facts that come from government and agency reports and data. Public Data Ferret gives the Seattle community access to the data but also puts it into context providing a rich, unparalleled source of important, actionable information that citizens can use. Public Data Ferret goes the extra mile as well to ensure that the community knows HOW to use the information with trainings, symposiums and panels in addition to writing and reporting on the website. All communities should be as lucky as Seattle to have a resource like Public Data Ferret which richly deserves Knight Foundation funding and support.
Sr. Product Manager, MSN UK
Advisory Board Member, Nieman Foundation at Harvard University
Board Member, The Online News Association
Trustee, Index on Censorship, London, UK
Matt Rosenberg’s “data ferret” is a very promising way to translate mountains of potentially useful information into usable and concrete stories that are linked to source documents. At the Washington Office of Secretary of State, we are constantly looking for ways to educate the voters and the Public Data Ferret is a great platform. We also promote open and transparent government, and as the parent agency of the State Library, Digital Archives and State Archives, we are acutely aware that hundreds of millions of public documents exist and are available under the Public Records Act. But that access does not equal usage, nor, of course, is there a value-added interpretation of what those discrete documents mean to the average person.
So three cheers for this new endeavor, which can be a national model.
Director of Communications
Office of the Secretary of State
Last now, here.
As an independent blogger who writes daily about Everett, WA. I want to take a moment to tell you what a wonderful resource Public Data Ferret has been for MyEverettNews.com. Matt has been able to put together information that as a single person trying to write about a community of over 100,000 with a major naval base and a Boeing assembly plant with more than 30,000 employees, I could never accomplish. From an Everett health care worker losing a license to coverage of Puget Sound Regional Council decisions that affect the people living and working here, Public Data Ferret and Public Eye Northwest are an invaluable resource helping this hyper-local publisher keep shining a light in places our daily newspaper doesn’t reach.