Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Datapedia: a Yellow Brick Roadmap

Freeman, Alan (2008): Datapedia: a Yellow Brick Roadmap.

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This note lays out a roadmap to Datapedia: the goal is to share numbers with the same power and ease that the Wiki has delivered for documents. This would transform the quality and usability of economic data. The goal is a system which, by analogy with Wikipedia can establish a world resource for reliable data. The paper discusses a process by which data providers and users can evolve a new set os systems for exchanging, describing and interacting with data to bring this about.

The proposal centres on the metadata – additional descriptive data – that is associated with numeric data, and suggests how, in two cases – World GDP and Creative Industry Employment – data could be mapped in such a way that viable Datawiki platforms can be built. The proposal also allows existing communities of users to start reshaping the way they exchange and handle data, to permit, and also to improve existing standards for collaborative use of data.

The first step would be Datawiki: an opensource system for recording revisions, changes and sources of data, allowing users to compare different revisions and versions of data with each other. It would be a set of protocols, and simple web tools, to help data researchers pool, compare, scrutinise, and revise datasets from multiple sources. The first step towards Datawiki is Wikidata: rethinking the way that data itself is transmitted between people that collaborate on it a platform-independent standard for exchanging specifically numeric data. I show that the ubiquitous standard for exchanging data – the spreadsheet – is not up to the task of serving as a platform for Datawiki, and assess how alternatives can be developed.

Keywords: data, wikipedia, creative industries, macroeconomics

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