Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Being open and sharing

I think the talk below by Tim Berners-Lee has philosophical ramifications for healthcare. One of the greatest problems with 'meaningful use' of EHRs is interoperability. We need to consider how we can best securely share data and develop open standards that work.

20 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. For his next project, he's building a web for open, linked data that could do for numbers what the Web did for words, pictures, video: unlock our data and reframe the way we use it together.

In the 1980s, scientists at CERN were asking themselves how massive, complex, collaborative projects could be orchestrated and tracked. Tim Berners-Lee, then a contractor, answered by inventing the World Wide Web. This global system of hypertext documents, linked through the Internet, brought about a massive cultural shift ushered in by the new tech and content.

Berners-Lee is now director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which maintains standards for the Web and continues to refine its design. Recently he has envisioned a "Semantic Web" -- an evolved version of the same system that recognizes the meaning of the information it carries. He is also a senior researcher at MIT's Computer Science and AI Lab.

Data is relationships!

Hugging data leads to closed data silos. Of course, privacy requires tight controls, but standards need to be as open as possible so that when data needs to be shared there is a common framework to link data. Without open standards there could be no World Wide Web. Try to imagine life without an Internet...

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