Data We Trust—But What Data?

Jennifer Golbeck


The Obama administration’s time saw massive amounts of government data shifting online. It can be hard to remember the landscape back in 2008, when very few people had smartphones, and Facebook had fewer than 150 million users—less than 10 percent of its current size.1 We were just starting to grapple with all the data that was becoming available. The administration embraced the trend. They launched, a project designed to serve as a repository of important data sets from the federal government. Agencies followed suit, uploading their data or creating their own repositories. Databases, websites, and all sorts of content became accessible online. It appeared we were entering a golden age of open data, where citizens would have access to the raw data that their tax dollars funded, that fueled policy decisions, and that affected their lives. The movement of government data to the web improved transparency and fueled research to complement official sources.

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