October was a busy month for data and tech events for 360Giving! On the weekend of 21-22 October, I attended my first Open Data Camp in Belfast. The following week I attended Mozfest, the annual festival of Mozilla, the parent company of the browser Firefox. Taking place in London and bringing people from all over the world, Mozfest focused on the free internet. This is what I learned.
Open Data Camp
For those of you who are not familiar with it, Open Data Camp UK is an event where open data practitioners meet to discuss, network and learn about open data in an unconference way. Yes, I said “un-conference”. What does that involve? It’s an interactive way to share learnings. Instead of panels and a fixed schedule, participants decide the agenda on the day and host their own sessions.
It was great to see the vibe and critical thinking of the UK community around open data. Furthermore, it was great to see the enthusiasm of the open data community in Northern Ireland and how so many people – from students to government employees and the charity sector – are there to promote and discuss open data. I’ve not seen much government participation in un-conferences before as they’re so informal, so I was pleased to see so many people from the Northern Ireland government organising it!
Key takeaways from Open Data Camp:
- Data use is a hot topic – Using data is still not easy for a lot of people. There are barriers we need to tackle to help more people to actually use data and use it well. I was very excited to see some practical guidance like the ‘Getting More Value out of Open Data Publishing’ document that was created during the event, helping us to share knowledge and experiences of how to make sure that data that is published is actually used. If you want to learn more about data use and how we approach it here at 360Giving, check out my previous blog about it.
- NICVA is doing some great work with data – Andrea Thornbury from NICVA (Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action) presented some of their work of Detail Data. It was inspiring to see how data can help charities to achieve better project planning and in some cases even funding.
- It’s time to refresh some old open data definitions – If we want more people to use and publish open data, we need to re-write some of our data definitions in a relatable manner, so everyone can understand them. Some of these definitions, like machine readable format, are not even clear to the most savvy people in the open data community. The Open Data Handbook has some good definitions, but maybe we need a collective effort to refresh some of them?
Mozfest is a festival that celebrates the freedom of the internet and brings together people from different communities to learn and collaborate about different topics like diversity, inclusivity and web literacy. Open data is one of many topics that was discussed as a catalyst for a better internet. While Mozfest is quite tech oriented, here are some takeaways that are relevant for the grantmaking community.
Key takeaways from Mozfest:
- Teaching tech literacy through games: Games can be an easy and fun way to learn about data. I learned about BetaNYC’s open data card game that teaches about the open 311 standards (the standard the is used for a service call to the local council or FixMyStreet). I also learned how games can help to research Alzheimer’s. Maybe games can help us do better grantmaking?
- Glossaries for better literacy: Brendan from 18F, the US equivalent of the UK Government Digital Service, showcased an FBI project around crime data. One of the tools they used to help people to understand the project was this glossary, which looks like it could be a good addition to our GrantNav platform.
- Network cantered resources: This session focused on how to create better resources for knowledge sharing within a network of practice. This made me think about what’s needed for our community and how we can we create them together. If you have some ideas, please let me know!
If you want to discuss any of the points above further, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org