#okcon – Small Museums and Open Data – my presentation text

Notes from my presentation, delivered at OKCon in the Open Culture session on 18th Sept. 2013.

Doc available on Scribd:


Although I didn’t use my slides in the end, the presentation that I put together is available on Slideshare:



Live blogging – #okcon – Session: Open Science

My notes, apologies for any mistakes.

Session: From Open Data to Open Science: Policy, Literacy and Citizen Engagement

Moderator: Francois GreyCitizen Cyberscience CentreUniversity of Geneva

Why Science is an Open Endeavor

–  Victoria Stodden, Professor of Statistics, Columbia University

– See more at: http://okcon.org/open-science-and-research/session-1/#sthash.WekP0tAJ.dpuf

My notes:

@victoriastrodden on role of computation in scientific research. Donoho: says that its not the published article that is the scholarship, the article is the advertisment the scholarly contribution.

We need to update the scientific record.

Branch 1: deductive – with the idea of the proof

Branch 2: empirical – with the idea of hypothesis testing, and structured methods (protocols)

So add Branch 3/4?: computational – large scale simulations, data driven computational science. Using big data.  – what do we have here? to qualify the findings? Scientific method is to root out error. And computational science today doesn’t generate reliable knowledge.  So the availability of code, in order to verify it, is essential. 

Victoria’s slides are here: http://t.co/Iq7VY7YonL

We shouldn’t need a special language to discuss the reproducibility of experiments. Of scientific enquiry.

Open Health – The Citizen’s Revolution

–  Ernst Hafen, CSO, healthbank / ETH Zurich

For the future of health and medicine to become personalized, preventive and predictive is also needs to become participatory. The need for millions of health data sets requires the active participation of healthy individuals and patients. This will be promoted by empowering individuals by giving them control over their health data (medical, omics, mHealth etc). In healthbank, a Swiss health databank, citizens from all over the world can securely store, manage, and contribute anonymized selected health data for research. Since healthbank is organized as a cooperative, members not only control their data, they are also owners of healthbank and share its profits.

– See more at: http://okcon.org/open-science-and-research/session-1/#sthash.WekP0tAJ.dpuf

My notes:

Health Data platform: http://datenundgesundheit.ch

Multi-agency, multi-national.

Upping our digital literacy

–  Kaitlin Thaney, Director, Mozilla Science Lab

Despite the influx of tools and policies under development to advance the broader goal of open science, we’re still facing a critical gap in our education system. The newly launched Mozilla Science Lab, an open science project supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is looking to help close that gap in skills development so that making research more efficient isn’t only accessible to the chosen elite. This talk will look at some of the broader issues surrounding disrupting the current educational system, and explore what “digital literacy” looks like for science, so we can better arm the next generation of researchers (as well as the PIs and advisors) with the skills to truly enact change.

– See more at: http://okcon.org/open-science-and-research/session-1/#sthash.WekP0tAJ.dpuf

My notes:

@kaythaney of @mozillascience

Kaitlin talking about OpenNews project.

Open web to change the way that science is done.  A key to this is digital literacy (@mozteach).  They’ve run a MOOC about teaching using the web. Science is becoming more data driven. There is a skills gap developing.

Mozilla Science Lab:

All of these layers are interdependent on one another:

  • Community – buildings communities of practice for keeping up to date with tools, best practice, communities, etc. Have a skills training programme.
  • Code
  • Code/Data Literacy

Software Carpentry Programme: http://software-carpentry.org/v4/invperc/

It’s all about making sure that education is producing professionals who have the skills that are necessary for 21st century jobs.

Kaitlin’s blog: http://kaythaney.com/

“Reliance on ad-hoc, self-education about what’s possible doesn’t scale.”

Introducing CC Science Affiliates Network

– Puneet Kishor, Project Coordinator for Science and Data, Creative Commons (CC)

As a small organization with a global ambition, reach, and footprint, CC is only as strong as its community.
CC can’t be everywhere, and that is where its community steps in, using CC licenses, promoting the values underlying those licenses, and championing openness.
In keeping with CC’s vision of “realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity”, one of the core strategic objectives of CC Science is to “Grow the Community.”
CC Science Affiliates Network aims to strengthen CC’s science outreach by: including local and regional scientific voices in the global conversation on open science; making CC more responsive to scientific concerns worldwide; and providing scientists who are friendly toward open science and access the full power of a global community. We will introduce the CC Science Affiliates Network, highlight synergies between it and OKFN’s outreach programs such as the OKFN Ambassadors program, and invite participation from the OKFN community.

– See more at: http://okcon.org/open-science-and-research/session-1/#sthash.WekP0tAJ.dpuf

My notes:

Openness is not evenly distributed.

CC has lots of volunteers, called CC Affiliates.

At a recent meeting of CC Affiliates, Puneet noted that there were very few Scientists from developing countries represented. So this needs to change. Most affiliates are from a legal background, mostly because of the way that CC developed.

Science Affiliates Network.

OKF is the mechanism whereby CC and its vision is achieved. i.e. “Realising the full potential of the internet”

Live blogging – #okcon – Session 3: Open Education

The facets of open education. Resources, data and culture – Panel & LinkedUp Awards presentations

Tuesday 17 September, 11:45 – 13:15 @ Room 13, Floor 2

The facets of open education. Resources, data and culture – Panel

Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone. Many institutes offer Open Educational Resources (OER) online. Education can benefit highly from open and linked data approaches.

Moderator: Doug Belshaw, Badges & Skills Lead, Mozilla Foundation

Panel members:

LinkedUp Challenge Award Presentations

– See more at: http://okcon.org/more-open-topics/#education-session-1

My notes:

@jackiecarter said: Co-existence of open and closed data.

@jackiecarter said: It’s not just about releasing the data, is about creating products for that data.

Respecting rights. Using CC and respecting people’s ownership.

Identifying derivative works is the challenge.

My tweets from the session – in reverse order!:

#linkedupproject at #okcon: Linking entities from social media profiles to historical data. Using timeline based viz. http://apps.facebook.com/yourhistory 

Really impressed by the breadth of the real-use working instances & prototypes of #openeducation at #linkedupproject competition at #OKCon.

#polimedia putting political events at centre of model 2 link together news items in media archives. V translatable. #linkedupproject #okcon

#gnoss #MisMuseos project up now at #OKCON semantic data based online museum of 7 Spanish museums. http://mismuseos.net  #museweb #lod

@jackiecarter saying It’s not just about releasing the data, is about creating products for that data. #openeducation #OKCON

Intro to #linkedup-project at #okcon. Making connections & creating resources for #openeducation. Led by #leibnizuni. #lod #museed #museweb

Live blogging – #okcon – Session 1

Live blogging from #okcon

My notes (may contain errors!)

Session 1 Plenary Talk

Tuesday 17 September, 09:15 – 09:45 @ Main Stage

Open Data Movement Gaining Power

Ellen Miller, CEO, Sunlight Foundation

See more at: http://okcon.org/open-data-government-and-governance/#session-1

Examples of opportunity:

— Open Government Partnership

— Open Data Portals (there are 43 country level portals, and over 100 area portals). Including city level portals.

“The win isn’t getting the open data portal itself. The win is the impact that the open portal can have.”

— International Transparency Organisations. Check out the list here, and add to it if you have an example that is not yet there: http://bit.ly/globalngo

Ellen asks does our work (Sunlight Foundation) live up to the open data potential to change things? Do we have more trust in Government? Ellen says No.  Due to:

Usual startup problems. Taking on too much work, taking too long to work out problems, working out how to relate to politicians, how to deal with the bad actors, are minor incremental reforms good enough? we’re inconsistent: should we model how govts should do their work, or should we do their work for them? I.e. make the tools for them. How should we measure our impact? how do people want to use govt data <– need to know this so that we can match their need.

We’ve learned:

— Independent position is needed – Away from politicians. Naming and shaming is very important. As is praising the good work.

— Building tools for average citizens isn’t as smart. We need to work with engaged constituencies.

— Fundamental questions of state and political power are actually key to our work. The influence of money and politics will only grow, and this threatens our ability to create accountability. This is a problem that we need to find a way around. i.e. the new surveillance powers of the US and the influence that this could have on our experience of the internet.

We need to set a standard of what we mean by open data, and then ensure that govts adhere to it.

Govt agencies have to use technologies to invite us (people) into a meaningful dialogue, to participate in the major decisions that impact on our lives.


Tuesday 17 September, 09:45 – 11:15 @ Main Stage Room 2

Moderator: Sarah Schacht, transparency technology advisor and author

Open Data – not just good, but better

Chris Taggart, Co-founder, OpenCorporates

The arguments for open data are often perceived as being about liberating a public good, but open data has another, more subtle benefit: increased quality. This presentation will use OpenCorporates’ new corporate network data features to demonstrate how open data can address the quality and collective action problems that plague proprietary datasets, and provide efficient feedback mechanisms for open data publishers, governments and data users.

– See more at: http://okcon.org/open-data-government-and-governance/session-2/#sthash.dwSsGttv.dpuf

My notes:

Data quality issues:

— Data accuracy

— Gaps in data

— Granularity.

We can’t look at companies in isolation. They are all part of a huge network of other companies. So we need to consider them in relation to other companies’ activities.

Open data on a global stage. Talked about the G8 Open Data Charter.

Global activism on the local stage.

Great summary tweet: “@pmackay16sopen data is disruptive: 1) by new uses of data, and 2) in changing processes around the data, by @_OpenP #okcon

On Process:

The “nature of the government processes are important in their own right.”

data.gov.uk is a place where interactions occur. Data users communicate with Cabinet Office team.

We’re trying to get the dataset of the datasets! We need to know what there is to ask for it to become data.

The National Information Infrastructure <– critical datasets that need to be made available (at high quality).

It’s how we interact/collaborate. Team blogs, Twitter, etc.  As a civil servant these things make my accountability to the civil society feel different to the past. Very different to the consultation process, which is less interactive.

On Improving:

How can we, as a government, interact better with the community on open data?

How can this interaction evolve after all the data is released? So after all of the data that is going to be released, has been released (only a couple of years away):

— open policy making team – learning from examples like MindLab in Denmark: www.mind-lab.dk/en

— internal insights


Big, Small, Smart – what data does an enlightened society need?

Andreas Kellerhals, Director, Swiss Federal Archives

We will look first at the availability of data and their supposed value for a public use, illustrated with some real life examples. Secondly, we’re interested in the added value of data analysis for administrative work and an opening toward a kind of data driven political participation. We will, thirdly, address questions of public responsibilities and due diligences. Fourthly, the urgent need for methodological skills when working with open data or public sector information will be a topic as well as, fifthly, possible retroactive impacts on government data.

– See more at: http://okcon.org/open-data-government-and-governance/session-2/#sthash.dwSsGttv.dpuf

My notes:

Shows some gorgeous images of historical publications of government data.

Publishing statistics of government data has a long history. As an instrument of propaganda in 17th and 18th century. e.g. Stanford visualisation of enlightment correspondence. http://www.stanford.edu/group/toolingup/rplviz/rplviz.swf

Swiss Open Government Data: http://opendata.admin.ch

Much of the data was already available, but not all in one place. 1617 datasets.

The portal will now be tested for 6 months or so. Hopefully the community will get involved.

Example: http://hydrodaten.admin.ch data, resulting in Aare App: https://itunes.apple.com/ch/app/aare-schwimm-wetter-temperatur/id375825664?mt=8

As this develops, we will move away from facts and figures, and towards issues of methodology. example of University of Massachusetts, what could the effects of an error in data mean? See The Excel Depression, Paul Krugman: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/opinion/krugman-the-excel-depression.html?_r=0


Data: Opened for Action

– Andrew Alspach, Senior Information Management Officer UNHCR

UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee agency has taken many steps in the last year to expose anonymized data related to the people we serve for use by the humanitarian community. The organization has realized and embraced the fact that opening up data results in informed decision making and ultimately saving lives. While blogs and the twitter–sphere are rumbling with the need and intention to “open” data, UNHCR is committed to becoming a leader in this area through tangible actions for the humanitarian community and the people we are committed to providing assistance. Our talk will highlight the technical, innovative, and responsible ways that UNHCR is contributing in this area.

A goal of the High Commissioner, since 2011 UNHCR has changed its approach and policies to sharing data necessary for collective and effective action in humanitarian response. The recent emergencies in Mali and Syria, among others, have shown the critical importance of a humanitarian response based on a shared understanding of the needs and capacities of those displaced by conflict and natural disaster. UNHCR recognizes that unless the true condition, risks and resources of a population is known and shared collectively, the effectiveness of a collective response is severely compromised. This requires a cultural revolution within a protection agency such as UNHCR, holder of some of the most sensitive data of any international organisation. The talk will share specific experiences and changes UNHCR has adopted in regard to policies and tools for sharing data with the past year, as well as how we ensure opening of data without opening risks to rights, security and protection of refugees globally.

– See more at: http://okcon.org/open-data-government-and-governance/session-2/#sthash.dwSsGttv.dpuf

My notes:

Open data for the protection of refugees and the delivery of services to displaced peoples and people in need of help.

Andrew is beginning with a 5star.info slide. UNHCR use the 5 star rating for opening their data. They’re at the 2-3 star level now.

Aiming for some of the data to be 5 stars by the middle of next year.

Websites that deal with emergencies:


The Syrian platform has evolved from a series of PDFs to having an entire dump in csv available. Daily updates are also available in csv. The information was already public, but now is extractable.  And is still improving.


Population Statistics, bi-annual. Was a PDF document, 3 months ago was converted to a searchable, downloadable database. Working on visualisations.

Beginning of this:


Open Map Data. We want to provide services to our communities. Shows a web feature service and web mapping service, available for GIS specialists to use.

Different kinds of datasets: Common operational datasets & fundamental operational datasets.

Humanitarian Exchange Language: http://hxl.humanitarianresponse.info/docs/index.php

  • Using URIs for names of things.
  • Using HTTP URIs.
  • Providing info using SPARQL and RDF standards.
  • Including links to other URIs.

HXL is the name of the lang.

Analytical aspects of considering open data.

Its about how we can use data for action.


Digital Futures – Day 2

Ramine Tinati (Les Carr, Susan Halford, Catherine Pope): Exploring the Impact of Adopting Open Data in the UK Government

How is the web growing? Can we apply models to this to understand how the web is growing?

The web as a network of networks.

Looking at the UK Govt Open Data Community.

Consists of multistakeholders (govt, academics, civic society, lobbyists, developers, citizens). Active both online and offline.

What Ramine is doing:

How is the community established? how is it developing? what are the implications for adopting Open Data in the UK?

Mix of quanitative and qualitative data: including: interviews, harvesting data, etc.

There were previous open data, open source, open knowledge communities; Academic research groups involved in Web Technologies and Knoweldge Representation; Civic Society involved in transparency; Public Sector Information committees in Government.

Ramine talked about the structure of the Open Government Data community. National level, regional level, local councils and authority stakeholders. And there are movements joining these. Such as the Open Govt Data Blog.

Open Data Communities have been active since 2009. Growth since then.

National level impacts:

  • Cabinet Office Transparency Board
  • National Datastore (data.gov.uk)
  • New Open Government Data License
  • Mobile apps and web services breaking down barriers between people and Government.

It looks from the slides Ramine is showing that all of the above have been increasing since 2009.

City and council level impacts:

  • data portals being developed (examples of Greater Manchesters, Kent, Warwickshire, London)
  • cost benefits to the LAs.Resulting in less FOI requests, and reduction in internal depatment costs.
  • general change within the LAs. 25% of UK councils are Open Data councils, using Open Government License.

Impacts on other communities:

  • Open Data Institute
  • mobile apps development
  • data journalism increase


Very little of the Open Data is published as 5 star data. Less than 1%!

Data needs to be of value.

[That word keeps coming up here at DE2012.]

Bridging the gap between government actions and citizen knowledge.

Needs to be sustainable: Socially, technically, economically.

Poster Lightning Talks

Dickinsons: 6th Senese Transport. Visualising Network Opportunities to Enable Fluid Tourism Destination Travel.

Tony Stockman: Using Low-cost devices to support non-visual interaction with diagrams.

Allowing visually impaired people use a haptic device to interact with a diagram software. But very expensive. Looking for an alternative, the team compared a falcon device (the hand-pen tool) with a Wacom pad.

Ruth Aylett: Heriott Watt University. Protoyping 3D smart textile surfaces for pervasive computing environment.

Interactive dance environmnet with smart costumes. Using a 3D printer to make thermochromic dyes in shoulder pads. 3D surfaces that can change colour, reacting differentially depending on the light on them. Now working on an environment which will allow you to coreograph the effects on the textile.

Caroline Leygue: Horizon, Nottingham: Changing energy Use Habits Through Implementation Intentions

Used mobile phones to monitor and change peoples energy use habits. To postpone energy to off-peak times. Two groups. 35 participants. The intentions technique made poeple specify how, when and where people were going to use things at off peak times. And the second group just said they were going to use off-peak times. The first group made a change.

 Mark Davies: Nottingham: The Rural Digital Economy: the local market as an arena for digital economic consideration and design. 

Developing an IT intervention.  Doing initial ethnographic work.  Plan is to develop an online market portal.  Designing systems in the wild with the users. Building a trusts relationship with the community, market organisers and stall holders.

Missed the name! Brunel (Horizon): Open Design meets Open Science

How can the design world interact with the making community?  Open design is a product where the design itself is open for anyone to use. But not everyone can be a designer of things (quotes Chris Anderson). So this research explores tools and techqniues so that a non-designer can participate in the design process. Citizen Science is a key.

Chris Phethean: Southampton: Measuring the Megaphone: How are charities using social meida for marketing?

What are charitable orgs doing on social media? But before you can measure something, you need to know what constitutes success. So this poster covers how orgs are using social media. And what the tools are that are being used. Triangulating what they think they’re doing, with what they’re actually doing on social media. The measurements are based on a framework of metrics that Chris is making. i.e. likes on Facebook. But this isn’t enough. So what metrics can provide an accurate measurement of engagment from a compaign. And of course the nature of the organsiation will affect the base line.

Will Fyson: Southampton: Dissemination through Disintermediation

Affect of the web on scholarly publishing. But there are still paper articles being shifted round (but as PDFs). Alot of scientific output isn’t covered by the academic peer-review journal system.  But there are issues to consider such as knowledge sharing being very time consuming, and IP theft. The poster looks at what we can do to look at these concerns.

Phil Waddell: Southampton: The role of the web in the formation of political activists.

Going to look at how web technologies are being used in a live contest by going to protests.  This uses qualitative methods, not just the more conventional apparoach of analysing the quantative data post-event. Aim is the identify what kinds of things are useful to get a sense of the global network of activists that are forming online. e.g. how can social media create instances of solidarity during a protest between people at the protest, and people in a different country?

Personal Containers Project

Connecting your web histories. Now collecting data in houses.

Name? Aberdeen: Towards an Ecosystem for Social Computation on the Web.

Using data. Provenance, policy, quality, linked to data, trust and reputation, workflow, surrounded by user, services, and crowd.

Eleonora Oreggia: Queen Mary and BBC: Touch-controlled panoramic video stremaing for film directing.

Stageview: A 360 degree view to support the interaction between film director and camera operator. Allows for remote direction. A film director can therefore be in a separate city, and instead of just seeing a frame, the director can see all around. ‘Sterams from a Linux system to an iPad. Unwrapping the image to a rectangle.

Aberdeen: WiSE: Wireless Internet Sensing Environment.

Camera traps to record wild animals. Based on sensors for movement. The data is retrospective, the researcher goes onto tthe site to collect the data. Often triggers wrongly. The idea is to develop a way to record stuff in the environment using a digital sensing platform – for internet enabled remote moitoring. This could be used for environment monitoring generally.  Could also then be available for the public to see.

A. Sathiaseelan: Cambridge: PAWS: Public Access WiFi Service

Digital inclusion is a problem. People need access to the internet. There are lots of initiatives to provide superfast broadband connections. But there are infrastructural barriers.  And socio-economic barriers. Why: Can’t afford it, can’t access it (i.e. don’t know how), see no use for it.  This addresses access to essential public services. The solution involves multistakeholders.

End of session. Phew!