Opening Up Open Data: An Interview With Tim O’Reilly

Tim O'Reilly | McKinsey&Company | January 1, 2014

The tech entrepreneur, author, and investor looks at how open data is becoming a critical tool for business and government, as well as what needs to be done for it to be more effective.

Interview transcript

The value of openness

We’re increasingly living in a world of black boxes. We don’t understand the way things work. And open-source software, open data are critical tools. We see this in the field of computer security. People say, “Well, we have to keep this secret.” Well, it turns out that the strongest security protocols are those that are secure even when people know how they work.

Secrecy is actually, it turns out, a fairly weak way of being secure. And I think in a similar way, we have to understand who owns the rules, how are they driven, how are they guiding our behavior. And there may be cases where you say, “Well, actually it’s a reasonable trade-off to have some degree of secrecy.”

We have this with trade secrets all the time in the commercial world. But there are other areas where we should say, “No, we really need to know how this works.”