In The Begining There Were Mystery Boxes

April 22, 2010

The guy who created LOST, the TV show, gave a great TED talk. It was all about how he likes ‘mystery boxes’.

He started off  by describing these magic mystery boxes he liked as a kid and then he realised his TV shows and films are filled with mystery boxes. Not literally, but that the plot and characters are like mystery boxes: you don’t know what they are about until the end. The rest of the time is a big tease about what might be.

The guy, no, lets say his real name, JJ Abrams, says:

So there’s this thing with mystery boxes that I started feeling, like, compelled. Then there’s the thing of, like, mystery in terms of imagination — the withholding of information. You know, doing that intentionally is much more engaging.

If you like the idea of magical mystery boxes then you’re going to like this.

I’ve been looking at where our tax money is spent. I know that sounds completely unrelated to cool TV shows and popular films, but this research has been all about the tease of what might be in the mystery boxes of the British government’s spending records.

The plan for this blog is to show the government spending boxes, share the questions I asked about them, the replies I get and in the end, all being well, all will be revealed.

This is the rough picture of public spending databases I’ve gathered so far, as part of my work as a researcher at ‘Where Does My Money Go?’ (click on the image to see the full picture).

UPDATE: I’ve written a version of this blog post for the Open Knowledge Foundation Blog here.


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