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A Blog recording the life a Web Scientist
The beginning of the day started with a certain level of surrealism. The location and setting of the conference building was different, very different. It was once a factory, but now transformed into a nightclub. Dark and cold was the order of the morning, with a kick off time of 9:45 (ish). Rufus Pollock opened Open Government Data Camp 2011 with a great keynote, giving a quick introduction into the progress of Open Data, then delivered a few key points which seemed to trend throughout the day:
• Data is useless without communities and tools
• Tools need to be open source
• The Open Data communities need to grow
Following Rufus’s opening speech, Neelie Kroes, the vice president of the European Commission gave a speech over a video message. Neelie discussed the benefits of open government data, and discussed the changes she plans to make to the PSI directive. A great statement that stood out from this was the principle of only paying for data collection, and not for access (later an attendee described how until recently, Finland was charging for their datasets; even data between government departments).
“Data is important, but insufficient for change alone”. A message that tended that was reinforced through all the opening keynote speeches. Ellen Miller from Sunlight foundation discussed Sunlight’s four main principles: data, tools, organizing, and policy, each emphasising the need for tools and communities to develop; demonstrating a range of tools that Sunlight developed. This provided a great opening for David Eves, who rallied everyone attending the conference, offering them congratulations on their efforts so far. Again, the underlying message was that data alone cannot win the fight, and the Open Data needs to grow and mature. No longer can we be seen as ‘that guy’ in the room, it needs to (and slowly is) move beyond just an evangelistic cause, and David gave 3 key statements that will push OGD forward: It must be established as a platform, common schemas are needed; obtain support and backing from more corporations/institutions/organisations.
A short break was given, then the rest of the morning was filled with some great talks discussing improvements to transparency, making communities grow, creating data ecosystems, crowd-sourcing open data, open data in developing countries, and the importance of licencing data correctly.
Following lunch, workshops began, ranging from workshops on Open Data platforms (CKAN), to examining the lessons learnt from an established OGD initiative. Attending ‘The United States of Dta? Early lessons for policymakers’, offered five great lessons learnt: Open Data does not create its own demand, the primary audience for open data is software developers, Open Data is useful within government itself, Data platforms support internal publishing processes, Charging for data is a big turn off, and there still remains unsolved complex challenges, such as privacy and national security issues.
Day One wrapped up (like all the attendees due to the artic weather conditions) nicely, with the theme of the day being data is not enough on its own. Let’s see what day two brings (hopefully warmer weather…).