Make Smarter - Open Data Handbook, Free Esri Courses and O'Reilly Books, Abundance is our Future, Full Circle Magazine

First up in this month’s Make Smarter is version 1.0 of the Open Data Handbook, created by the Open Knowledge Foundation and released under a Creative Commons Attribution (Unported) v3.0 License.

This handbook introduces you to the legal, social and technical aspects of open data. It can be used by anyone but is especially useful for those working with government data. It discusses the why, what and how of open data – why to go open, what open is, and the how to do open.
If you even have an inkling of moving toward open data, it's a must-read. I'm planning on burying myself in the So I’ve Opened Up Some Data, Now What? chapter when I get a chance. That's the biggest chink in our open data armor, and it's entirely my fault. I have the social skills of a turnip.

In the free resources department, Slashgeo has a great post listing free Esri classes, from niche subjects like Introduction to GIS Data ReViewer to the more basic Turning Data into Information Using ArcGIS 10. You’ll need an Esri account, an Internet connection, and some free time, but you’ll be rewarded with some great classes. You’ll also get a certificate for each course if you’re into that sort of thing (cough GISP cough/eye-roll). For more general reading on programming, operating systems, etc., check out O’Reilly’s Open Books. No certificates, but if you want I’ll send you a picture of a cupcake after you finish one.

Peter Diamandis’ TED Talk, Abundance is our Future, is a real eye-opener. Between science-phobes on the right and hyperventilating hand-wringing on the left when it comes to issues like climate change and over-population, it can be hard to find some rational middle ground. “The news media preferentially feeds us negative stories, because that’s what our minds pay attention to.” Amen to that. I am skeptical toward the “technology will fix everything” line of thinking, but like the speaker I think there’s a lot of room for optimism. Check out the discussion on TED’s site for a lot of interesting positions and ideas.

Finally, if you are new to the Linux world or you are considering checking it out, take a look at Full Circle Magazine.

Full Circle is a free, independent, monthly magazine dedicated to the Ubuntu family of Linux operating systems. Each month, it contains helpful how-to articles and reader submitted stories.

Although it focuses on Ubuntu, much of the material can be used in any Linux distro. They’ve had a great series on python programming, and their latest issue is a special on virtualization.