I started OpenDataNow.com to be a news and information hub for this exciting new field. In many ways I feel like I’ve been working on this website for years. I came to Open Data with a background in government, nonprofits, journalism, and consumer issues, areas that have all contributed to Open Data and also benefited from it.
I started my career as a science journalist with a Harvard undergrad degree in biochemistry. I became Editor of American Health magazine, the first health publication to win the National Magazine Award for General Excellence; went from there to Consumer Reports as its Science Editor; and soon became Editorial Director and then Executive Vice President of Consumers Union (CU), the magazine’s nonprofit publisher. I worked with some terrific people to launch the website, ConsumerReports.org, which has grown to have more than three million active paid subscribers – the largest information-based paid-subscription site on the Web. Along the way, I coauthored four books on health and medicine, including Mind/Body Medicine and The Dieter’s Dilemma.
After 15 years at CU, I worked in publishing and nonprofits before becoming Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission. As we worked to find new ways to help consumers understand their cell-phone plans, we realized that our colleagues in other agencies – Health and Human Services, Treasury, Transportation, and many others – were also trying to help consumers use data to make more informed choices. I was invited to become Chair of a White House Task Force on Smart Disclosure, the term we used for giving consumers useful data for decision-making, Co-chaired by Sophie Raseman of Treasury.
Today, I’m working with Beth Noveck of NYU and others as senior advisor at the GovLab, which studies and promotes open government and open data; writing a book on Open Data for McGraw-Hill; consulting on Open Data and consumer information for a number of organizations; and publishing this website. I hope you find the site useful and invite you to comment and contribute.
- Joel Gurin, Founder and Editor, OpenDataNow.com