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April 3, 2014

The Dream of Universal Data Sharing

I have been talking about this idea of data sharing for over 2 years now. However, until recently, only people in my inner circles have heard about it in details. The idea came to mind a couple years ago when research institutes started using our platform. I learned a lot about quantitative research, statistical analysis, etc. through talking to our customers.

When I talked to researchers, a theme keeps coming up. It will be great if there is an easy way to share and collaborate at the data level. At the same time, however, many researchers and institutes are still ‘concerned’ about the idea of sharing. It’s like on one hand sharing would be great and on the other hand, it’s not that great.

Since then, I have been talking to people about this dream of one day, all structured data will be easily sharable, mashable that new discovery can be made almost by accident.

So when the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) invite me to speak at their annual ICT4D conference, I thought it may be a good platform to finally talk about this crazy idea in the wild.

Around the world, there are many Open Data initiatives. From the White House, to various governments, to the World Bank and  various NGOs, there are many organizations pushing the idea that data should be open. These are great initiatives but I want to tackle the problem from a different angle.

In the spectrum of sharing, there are people who believes in sharing and then there are people who will never share. Open data attracts people who already believe in sharing. I want to target the other end. I want to take the challenge of moving the needle just a bit of those who think they will never share. Can we create a platform that allows for ‘safe’ sharing?

Here’s a thought: If we create a open architecture where data owners can securely control WHO, WHAT and WHEN (for how long) to share, can we at least convince some people to try?

I think so and that’s what I will be working on.

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