7 Databases We'd Love to See Released to the Public

Posted by Alex Slotnick on Aug 26, 2015 10:57:00 AM

Last week we blogged about how the Museum of Modern Art released a CSV file with an enormous cache of data, giving the public access to information about 125,000+ pieces of art. By sharing that data under the Creative Commons license, the museum offered the world the power to spread that knowledge without risk. MoMA’s publication of their database was a huge boon to scholars and art lovers, plus a fantastic endorsement of open information.

Here at VividCortex, we got to thinking: What are some other databases we’d love to see released to the public? Check out our list below. And please keep in mind, while we totally know that there are times when data is best kept secret, sometimes curiosity just gets the better of us....

7. An Inventory of the Impounded Items at Area 51

Let’s start this list off strong. Isn’t this one of the most demanded databases in the history of databases? And wouldn’t it be cool to browse the items, if not also a little apocalyptic? Handheld Hadron Colliders. Universal Translators. 5th Dimensional Cameras. This is a case where we’re not sure where public interest actually lies, but we’re *definitely interested*.

6. FIFA Executive Bribe Transactions

Here’s a more practical request. FIFA, you guys had a rough summer, but you deserved it. Now, why not just save all us a lot of trouble and time, and publish all the naughty things you’ve been up to? This database is probably a big one….

5. Facebook Poke Count

This is kind of like the running count of the national debt in New York’s Union Square: in a way, it represents how we’re doing as a species. Nobody completely understands Facebook pokes, or what they’re for, but they somehow seem indicative of human achievement in the 21st century. International interconnectivity and over a billion users, all resulting in... pokes? Do Facebook pokes still even exist? What role will they play in the future? What might we learn from an analysis of all the pokes that have happened under Facebook’s watch?

4. World Leaders’ Spotify Playlists

A couple weeks ago, Barack Obama shared what he’s been listening to this summer. Let’s make this a trend and get all world leaders to similarly share their favorite jams. Maybe we’ll discover some unexpected common ground, and diplomacy will flourish worldwide. Maybe Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump both favor Justin Bieber. Maybe Putin and Hillary can bond over U2. Maybe President Pavlopoulos in Greece drives home blaring Drake after a tough day chatting debt with the IMF.

3. Airport Hoverboard Arrest Records

This past weekend featured one of our favorite news items ever, under the headline “Wiz Khalifa Arrested for Refusing to Get Off Hoverboard” (?!?!). Now we just want to know more, more, more. As Mr. Khalifa stated, “I stand for our generation, and our generation is gonna be riding hover boards.” Now that generation demands more information, demands justice, and demands, while we’re at it, hoverboards!

2. The Vatican Library’s Contents and Page Scans

The Vatican Library is a repository of historical secrecy and wealth. Also, as a library, it’s one of the world’s oldest databases, full of arcana and who-knows-what. This is millennia of art, literature, and riches we’re talking about. What kinds of treasures have been held in the Vatican’s vaults for so many years? Surely, in 2015, those items that were once considered heretical and dangerous can be shared without fret. We’d love to take a look.

1. A List of Anonymous Donors to Great Causes

Unfortunately, data isn’t always released to the public with the best intentions. The most recent case of irresponsible, mean-spirited data abuse was this summer’s hack of controversial dating site Ashley Madison. Now the hackers are holding tons of private information hostage. Regardless of how you feel about the dating site itself, we just want to make an appeal to those hackers who stole the data: ***if you must*** invade people’s privacy, why be so pessimistic and childish about it? Next time, consider doing something positive with your time. Try hacking the databases of, say, a local art museum, or a symphony orchestra, or an orphanage, and publish the names of those anonymous donors who help those organizations run. Give people credit instead of fear. Reward our society, don’t punish it. Spread the love, not the hate.

*What databases would you love to see made public? Let us know in the comments.*

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