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"I'm from central IT and I'm here to help you."

When I decided to listen to this podcast with Greg Elin (IT Conversations) I thought that there may be some insight about how a central IT organization could operate more transparently, or any organization for that matter. The conversation was about the work of the Sunlight Foundation, work that is directed at making more transparent the transactions of the federal government.

There were some desired lessons and ideas extracted but there were many more fascinating concepts that were discussed and analyzed.

The more the conversation went along, the more I was hearing inisght that might help us as we begin to wrestle with the notion of a Penn State framework for repositories. Repository is such a loaded term, but the generalized nature of this podcast made it applicable to any area I can think of including administrative, raw and intermediate research data, blogs, wikis, web sites, meeting minutes, etc.

The notion of agile development, not just as a software development methodology but also as a project management methodology was brought up again and again. I know there are folks in ITS and all over Penn State who are talking about and have embraced both concepts. We're having lots of discussion about project management in ITS right now - I highly recommend a listen from that perspective too.

The Sunlight Foundation has established something call the Sunlight Labs to help execute their ideas. The foundation doesn't fund a small handful of large projects but rather a large handful of smaller projects, and the lab is their to support and coordinate those efforts. The way it was described it sounded like something we might try and emulate in some places at Penn State.

The conversation was mostly about how to make data available in a useful, coherent, permanent way (sounds like a repository to me). The rallying cry of the efforts of the foundation is one-click discovery. They talked about APIs they've developed to help identify people and legislation across data silos, using Opensecrets.org and OMBWatch as examples of two well intentioned and well serving repositories who until recently, couldn't work together for a whole host of good reasons.
gapminder

The concept of Continuous Data Analysis was presented. There are many concepts relating to log analysis and business intelligence that I think would be well served as we consider the future of both. Also, I was introduced to Jeff Jonas, a chief scientist of the IBM Entity Analytic Solutions group and an IBM Distinguished Engineer. He is the father of a concept called Sequence Neutrality in Information Systems.

Lastly, but early in the podcast, there was mention of gapminder.org. I had never heard of them before - they claim to be a "a non-profit venture for development and provision of free software that visualise human development." There are some cool and interesting tools for data visualization on their web site.

The podcast was 44 minutes long but worth every second. I highly recommend it.

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Comments (1)

This is very interesting and to extend the conversation on repositories etc... I just posed some comments regarding our pilgrimage to explore storage in this space. Much to talk about but many things point to developing a model for repositories becoming a service, rather than silos of information. Don't know who can afford to pay for it all but in the grand scheme may be worth a look. http://www.personal.psu.edu/mcs4/blogs/skeet/

Project management may be the key to success but possibly with dedicated project managers for IT? Something to think about IMHO.

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