The Guardian, ostensibly a UK newspaper, but also a major proponent for opening data held by governments to use by outside software developers, has launched some software of its own: a search engine that unearths datasets and pathways to data sets provided by governments around the world. World Government Data Search is now live.
Yesterday the UK government released its new data site, data.gov.uk, to rave reviews (including ours). The new Guardian search engine searches across the UK, US, New Zealand and Australian governments' data sites. The company also offered up a gallery of the 10 best visualizations and mash-ups built on top of government data like this.
The Guardian quotes developer Ben Fry on the future of searching government data: "This is only going one way: there is no trend towards less data."
Following an era when the quantity of data available online increased in orders of magnitude, thanks largely to easy publishing tools for end-users like blogging and social networks, many people expect the next era of development online to focus on strategic moves to make the most valuable data available in standardized formats that facilitate innovation by 3rd parties independent of the original sources of the data.
If large, standardized data sets are a new language, then it's time for a new period of literature to be written.