Sean Flannagan and I have finally finished initial development and obsessive content compilation for Datamob, a directory that highlights the connection between public datasets and awesome interfaces that people have created to make public data more accessible—including amazing tools like OpenCongress, EveryBlock, and Oakland Crimespotting.

You’re intrigued, I can tell. Well, it is, admittedly, a g2g website—that’s my this guy’s neologism for geek-to-geek, like b2b. We hope it’ll be a useful and compelling way for data geeks and developers to find new data sources and inspiration for their projects. And why should the non-geek care? Our mission statement puts it best:

Widely accessible public data enables informed civic engagement, and we believe that providing restriction-free data to developers is the best way to promote the technological innovations that will spread knowledge.

For those of you who do better with visualizations than words, Datamob is a lot like the Google chart API pie chart below: 61% datasets, 28% interfaces, 11% resources, 100% informative, empowering geeky goodness [breakdown as of post time].

datamob pie chart

My language nerds, I haven’t forsaken you. Wondering about the etymology of Datamob’s name? Well, the folks at Freebase coined the term “data mob” to describe a group of data-lovers working together to perfect a small portion of Freebase’s ambitiously all-encompassing database. As for our Datamob, we hope it’ll inspire more institutions with vast reserves of information to put their data out there in accessible formats—and bring together more data mobbers to bring that information to life.

And to ensure I’ve covered all my geek demographics with this post, a few words on the development of Datamob: For the past two months I’ve had my head entirely buried in enlightening railscasts, the amazing heroku (a web-based rails development platform), and the somewhat befuddling rails framework documentation. Weren’t you wondering where I’d been? This was my first-ever Rails project, and it was an amazing learning process.

For all the buzz about RoR making things so easy even an orangutan could build a slick web app, your average geeky front-end web girl who tools around a bit with the PHP in her WordPress template (that would be me) still had a lot to learn about actual programming work. But figuring it all out was totally exhilarating.

For anyone thinking of taking their first venture into the big, bad world of programming, A List Apart just published two super-introductory articles to Ruby on Rails—they don’t include code, but have a great general introduction to the concepts you’ll need to know. If you’re ready to get coding, I quite liked Agile Web Development With Rails, although Rails 2.0 has outdated some of it.

Happy Datamobbing!

My work:


Kirrily Robert on April 24, 2008

Good to see someone else picking up the "datamob" thing and running with it :) But I have to take issue with your coinage of "g2g" ... my friend Schwern from coined it last July/August, sometime after OSCON and before BarCamp.

lauren on April 26, 2008

That's great! Schwern and I must think have similarly silly minds ;).

andy eggers on May 7, 2008

This is a really cool project. I've been interested in the proliferation of these projects that put cool but horribly presented data to use (and in fact I've been working on one myself), and it's great to have such a slick assemblage of them. I'm also impressed that you did your first rails app so quickly. Will check out heroku.

lauren on May 7, 2008

Andy, so glad you like it! Projects like ProxyDemocracy are exactly what inspired us to try to do this. Heroku is a fantastic tool for collaboration without physical proximity. You should definitely take a look!

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