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Gwynne Kostin (Photo: FedScoop)

Gwynne Kostin (Photo: FedScoop)

General Services Administration’s Digital Services Innovation Center Director Gwynne Kostin outlined her ideas on how government can make its content more accessible, speaking Tuesday at the 2012 Red Hat Government Symposium produced by FedScoop.

The key to open content, Kostin said, is designing ways that information can both be easily segmented and moved.

“Thinking about open content means thinking content that is available anywhere, anyplace and anytime, a mantra I think I now say in my sleep,” Kostin said.

When it comes to being easily segmented, Kostin compared content to Legos. Instead of needing specific parts to fill specific needs, content needs to be in granular form that can be easily played with to create new things, just like Legos can be used to build everything from a farmhouse to a car.

“Think about making the information flexible, so it can be placed in almost any kind of system,” Kostin said.

She also said to focus on how to get information out of a system. With changes in technology, no data system is forever, so focus on ways that data can be extracted.

The second thing needed for open information is a transportation system to get it in the hands of people whether it be on a computer, mobile device, application programming interface, website, Twitter feed, Facebook page or even a hard copy book. The key is to have information that can be used in a variety of places.

“Open up information and content, make it more flexible and available,” Kostin said. “Make your system do that, and you’ll get the most out of your content.”

  • Joe T

    As both a Lego lover and one in the content business, I couldn’t agree more. There are an array of options to present content as you note, “Anywhere, anyplace, and anytime”. For an organization to have data this open, it is clear that a hybrid approach that takes into account both traditional “behind the firewall” as well as modern cloud-based architectures are required. The process of making content open doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Every organization has multiple sources of information often linked to multiple groups. Every piece of data has context around it to drive processes and workflows – this metadata is key to making the open data useful. I would love to get your thoughts on if you are seeing a need for this hybrid approach in order to make content anywhere, anyplace and anytime a true reality?