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Microsoft’s open data play

Jason Norwood-Young
Jason Norwood-Young
2020-04-24

Microsoft has made three good things: Windows 2000, the Microsoft ergonomic keyboard, and Visual Studio Code. It’s not really enough to balance out Windows ME, ASP.net, Internet Explorer, or spending years actively trying to destroy the open source movement. But this is the new Microsoft, so I’m hoping its Open Data Campaign is coming from a good place.

It’s about a decade behind its behemoth competitor, Google, but Google took its foot off the open data accelerator some years ago, and no-one else has managed to fill that void.

What’s initially heartening is its focus on the “data divide” — a recognition that the gap between developed and developing countries will be widened by an inequitable distribution of actionable data, and on top of that AI opportunities.

While it’s saying the right things (it lays out some open data principles it intends to follow, and they’re what you’d expect), its first data set covers broadband usage in the United States, and it also mentions BroadbandNow’s US county broadband price dataset. Hardly addressing the global digital divide.

Whether this is an honest attempt to reduce digital divides or a Trojan horse for its AI and Power BI plays, remains to be seen.

Jason Norwood-Young
  • Journalist, developer, community builder, newsletter creator and international man of mystery, Jason was one of the first South Africans to really grasp the importance of data in the newsroom and has remained one step ahead of the trends in the field all the way. Even Naked Data was conceived before email newsletters were cool again. But what does that tell you about the measure of the man? Nothing, that's what. He hides the superman CV behind a truly mild-mannered and overly modest persona and is best described as "one of the nicest guys in the business". When he's angry, it is righteously so, and his anger always wears velvet mittens. The true signs of his genius include the ability to create multilingual puns on demand (witness the alternative Naked Data strap "Putting the heita in to data") and the fact that he offered me a job. (AO)

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