Guide to Sharing Your Data
06 Feb 2011
So you want to share some data-- perhaps out of the goodness of your heart, perhaps it makes you look good or perhaps you're required to do so.
Whatever the case, sharing your data should be done in such a way so that the data is truly open and accessible. First:
Putting data in a PDF does not really constitute opening and sharing your data!
Posting an Excel file to the Internet is a good step, if you speak Microsoftese, but it would be better to export it as CSV (Comma Separated Values) or TSV (Tab Separated Values). This at least keeps your data structured and by putting it on the Internet your are opening it up.
If you really want to think a little further ahead, you might consider importing your Excel spreadsheet as a Google Doc. This will make it public, and will accomplish the same goals aspublishing as Excel, CSV or TSV but you also have the added collaboration, sharing and API that comes with Google Docs.
If you truly care about the openness and accessibility of your data, you will publish it using a Restful API. Provide clear documentation on how use your API, and provide as many samples of code in as many different programming languages as you can.
Take time to consider your goals in publishing your data to the web, and your intended audience. Make your data as open and accessible as you can.