Marshall Kirkpatrick’s Little Bird wants to be your new “robot librarian”

Friday marks the official launch of former ReadWriteWeb editor Marshall Kirkpatrick’s data-based discovery startup Littlebird (formerly known as Plexus Engine). The company, which aims to automate discovery and vetting of experts and influencers on any given topic, has also raised $1 million in funding.

Marshall Kirkpatrick stops writing about startups, starts one instead

Blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick is leaving his job at Read/Write Web to start a company called Plexus Engine, which he says will offer data-filtering tools he has used as a tech journalist. Kirkpatrick joins a growing group of bloggers who have left to join the startup world.

Today in Cloud

Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb is one of those reporting that the U.S. Federal Government’s data.gov site may become a victim of the current Budget squeeze afflicting Washington. Leading open data advocate Jim Hendler, Gartner’s Andrea DiMaio and Nathan Yau at FlowingData.com are other interested parties with comments on the issue. Recent local, regional and national initiatives to release Government data have attracted some headlines, and gathered a devoted band of data mungers who delight in extracting meaning from the most obscure official statistics. That band of transparency enthusiasts, though, really isn’t the point. Government data underpins a remarkable proportion of the services that we increasingly take for granted; weather, transit information, demographics, and more. All of these have Government data at their heart. As the opportunities to combine data that I discussed in this week’s update become ever-more mainstream, this really isn’t the time to even consider pulling the foundations away.

Is Tiered Data Access Unfair, or the American Way?

Caught up in a wave of pressure to make the banking industry pay for wrecking the economy, the SEC and a few prominent politicians have turned their collective gaze toward high-frequency trading (aka algorithmic or electronic or flash trading). Among the major criticisms of the practice is that it is unfair – the haves pay for milliseconds-early access to market data and use expensive computing systems to make voluminous trades before pending trades complete, while the have-nots are left playing catch-up. The kerfuffle has prompted some to ask: What would happen if Facebook decided to sell its mountains of data to the highest bidders, which could in turn launch targeted marketing or intelligence strategies that would leave their competitors in the dust? But in a capitalist society where winner-takes-all tends to be the name of the game, is unfairness really that bad a thing?