Editor's Note: This post originally appeared in Source, an OpenNews project designed to amplify the impact of journalism by connecting a network of developers, designers, journalists, and editors to collaborate on open technologies. It was originally written for journalists, but we thought the piece so unique and useful to librarians and library workers that we're reposting it on TechSoup for Libraries in a two-part series. Find the original here.
At Factful, where we're building technology for journalists and civil society researchers, we're researching ways to make contemporary state-of-the-art data processing and storage tools more accessible to investigative reporters. One question driving our research was whether or not it made sense to create a large-scale data commons, a place where publicly useful sets of information could be stored, curated, and compared for the common good. Ultimately, we decided that for us the answer is no, at least for now. There are plenty of incomplete or out-of-date data commons projects already, and building and maintaining a truly comprehensive project is a massive undertaking.
Along the way, we did compile a pretty comprehensive roundup of data repositories and commons projects that could be valuable tools for reporters, investigators, or anyone looking to increase accountability through publicly available information.