I'm following along as the Sunlight Foundation winds down their operations and gathering any lessons along the way. We open data and transparency folks can learn from these lessons as we do our work. I wrote earlier that we should be learning from the Sunlight Foundation situation and that we are making sure we bake transparency into our projects and I want to continue to extract the wisdom that we can reuse as they turn out the lights.
The Sunlight Foundation shared that they are working with the Internet Archive and GitHub to preserve their projects and that they are "trying to ensure that the open-source community can understand and use our projects in the future" by:
- Adding documentation.
- Standardizing licenses.
- Scrubbing sensitive info.
This is the benefit of being transparent and open: that by default, you tend to do all of this in real-time. If you are in the business of opening up data and making it accessible with open APIs, then you should be using GitHub to document and tell the story as you go along. This way, you do not have to do it all when you are walking away; everything is open by default.
This is why I work out in the open on GitHub each day. It allows people to take my tools like the CSV Converter and the API Stack and put them to work, even as I'm still evolving them. When I step away from a project, it can continue to live on with all the code, definitions, schema, data, licensing, and the story behind in a nice, forkable package. There is no extra work necessary.
Anyways, these are just a couple of nuggets to consider as we are working on open data and API project across the space.