Let’s be honest—it’s not easy to explain what we at the Common Data Project are trying to do.
It’s been a year since we incorporated as a nonprofit organization, and over the past year, we’ve had conversations with a lot of people, from media professors to actuaries, about why we decided to found this organization. Different people have been excited about possibilities in different areas. A friend who works in housing advocacy saw possibilities in addressing the subprime mortgage crisis; a law professor saw possibilities in analyzing federal tax policy. It’s what makes our work exciting—that it can be applicable to so many contexts—but it’s also what makes it difficult to explain in simple terms.
So we’ve decided to follow our grade school English teacher’s advice: “SHOW, don’t tell.” Instead of trying to describe what we want to do, we hope to demonstrate our information and privacy values through the launch of a new web-based application.
The site will be focused on the issue of healthcare reform, and we will be giving people a new way to voice their support for comprehensive, effective healthcare reform in this country. It’s an issue that we’re passionate about, and we know other people are passionate about. Even before the Obama transition team began holding community discussions on healthcare, we’ve been amazed how much people were already talking about healthcare in deeply personal ways. There is already so much organized energy around this issue, groups and communities working together to accomplish their goals, that we could see a real value to providing a new outlet for that energy. Although the issue touches upon health, one of the most sensitive and private areas of people’s lives, it’s also an area in which the value of sharing information is so obvious, people have been trying new, imaginative things to make that sharing happen.
So what does all this have to do with “real privacy, more data”? Stay tuned for more.