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Data mining for a better tomorrow -- so says Uncle Sam

In this week's Searchlight, Uncle Sam wants you -- to hack. It's data mining for a better future. Also, a Twitter reminder, dinner invite and more.

Data mining often gets a bad rap. We're not here to say it doesn't deserve said rap: Who doesn't get an Orwellian vibe when reading the tale of Target outing a pregnant teen? So, we were heartened to see data mining, the Big Brother marketing tool of our time, geared toward the common good. This week's Searchlight leads off with a piece on the White House's announcement of the first-ever National Day of Civic Hacking.

Karen GoulartKaren Goulart

The official Web address -- -- hints at what it's all about. Various government agencies will free up scads of information and invite "we the people" to "collaboratively create, build and invent new solutions using publicly released data, code and technology to solve challenges relevant to our neighborhoods, our cities, our states and our country." Cynics might say it lessens the burden on government workers to find solutions, but we'd disagree. Why not give America's best hackers a crack at it? Minimum, it lines no pockets and could potentially help everyone.

And while we're feeling civic-minded and helpful, this week's roundup also includes our semi-regular reminder to not discount the power of Twitter, and a look at what marketing is doing with "big data."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, Features Writer.

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