Kundra’s Harvard Paper – Digital Fuel – Open Data & Network Effect

Former U.S. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra just released his first academic paper from his time as a Shorensten Center Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. Entitled Digital Fuel of the 21st Century – Innovation through Open Data & the Network Effect, Kundra advocates for the government to have a default of releasing data and being open, transparent, and participatory.

He encourages venture capitalist to invest in businesses built on public sector data using examples such as Zillow, Weather Channel, and Brightscope as three hugely successful examples built on public sector data.

In an excerpt Kundra argues:
In today’s age of information, data is supremely important. We generate and store more data today than any other time in history. When made available to the public and combined with the network effect—defined by Reed’s Law, which asserts that the utility of large networks, particularly social networks, can scale exponentially with the size of the network—society has the potential to drive massive social, political and economic change.

In today’s world, open data leveraged by networks is the fuel that powers important decisions at each level of society—from government, to business, to community, to households—but it is also a product of our every activity at every level of our existence. Channeling the power of this open data and the network effect can help:

  1. Fight government corruption, improve accountability and enhance government services
  2. Change the default setting of government to open, transparent and participatory
  3. Create new models of journalism to separate signal from noise to provide meaningful insights
  4. Launch multi-billion dollar businesses based on public sector data

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