Socrata [socrata.com] features, next to a slick design, the hip trademarked slogan "Making Data Social", as it aims to make government data open to new audiences and constituencies. At the heart of this movement is the concept of open data, making raw government data readily accessible, in a form that maximizes comprehension, interactivity, participation, and sharing. At Socrata, they call this emerging phenomenon "social data discovery", as they offer a comprehensive set of online solutions for delivering social data discovery on government data sites.
Previously existing as the weblist-sharing portal Blist, Socrata tries to set itself apart from "Government Data Websites", which I guess currently mainly points to the recently launched data.gov, by some unique features, including more advanced online data viewing, a community discussion and social media platform, and an online API.
However, one should note Socrata is not free, as it offers "a wide variety of flexible pricing options designed to accommodate a range of needs". I guess this means the open data movement has finally opened up commercial opportunities, which promises more innovation and hopefully will lead to even more open data. However, it seems to also turn "open data" into "subscription-only data" and the open data movement into a business model, as data suppliers have the ability to set specific dataset pricing levels.
A good thing?