If you asked me through a historical lens 'what are the best things about living in the current time', it would be relatively easy to answer. Certainly freedom of expression, movement and trade -- not to mention modern medicine -- would top the list. But as a former academic and long-time data junkie, I might also add to the list the vast quantities of publicly available information that we have at our disposal to analyze and facilitate better decision making. US government data, despite how difficult it is to decipher at times, is but one phenomenal source. Indeed, some companies such as Import Genius, that Michael Lamoureux recently blogged about, have predicated their entire business model on streamlining access to public trade cargo and manifest information. Lisa and I wrote about them earlier this year as well and have a similarly optimistic view of the value such a data source can provide -- even if all they're doing is repackaging information that you could hunt down on your own if you knew how to do it.
- Jason Busch