One of the central conceits of the “open data movement” is that someone out there has a better idea about what to do with data than the data holder themselves, especially government data, and there’s very little cost to simply posting database dumps for download and no need to conceive of any plans for structuring and serving that data — if there’s truly value in it, then the civil “information” society will find some practical or creative use for it. PlanningAlerts gives a good example to follow, and in those planning applications, there’s a mountain of data to mine, statistics to extract, and enlightening visualizations.
Another great one. Julian produced a creative slice from the data he scraped and collected in UNDemocracy.com, producing a timeline of disasters over the last 13 years by filtering out official condolences in the General Assembly. As a commenter said on the web4dev list, “imagine if these guys had proper access to our data”.