Media Mill Gazette 9

[aesop_content color=”#333333″ background=”transparent” columns=”1″ position=”none” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” floaterposition=”center” floaterdirection=”up”] Now with extra Open Government HULK, its your weekly dose of Media Mill. 


NEST and the ODI have been running a competition to develop a product or service that uses open data to engage more people in UK heritage and culture. The winner of the £50K prize, announced last week, was Culture Everywhere. A collaboration between Sheffield based Better with Data ( and Ignite Imaginations ( . Using data from a number of (open) sources the platform aims to make “it easier for those organisations to research for, develop and demonstrate the impact of their activities so they can spend more of their time delivering better social outcomes.”

There’s a pitch video below for more information.

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Off the back of the announcement on the Heritage and Culture Open Data Challenge, NESTA have also released an Open Data Challenge handbook. It’s a good read with profiles, methodology and some useful suggestions on how open data challenges can be developed and used. Well worth a look


We know that democratic and social innovation play a big part in open data rhetoric, so on the face of it, this article isn’t really anything new. Bit the examples cited here offer a slightly different take when we move from (good) examples of civic open data to the crowdfunding aspect. It cites ( as a good model of how crowdfunding might work. It’s essentially a civic bond scheme encouraging you to invest in bonds to fund projects that are collaboratively developed and decided on. It introduces interesting ideas around micro-finance and local funding.
I’ve already spoken to a number of government people from a variety of sectors who see open data as one arm of a set of tools to help local groups develop funding for projects. Those are likely to be in medium term strategies for a number of sectors as the Government looks to balance the books.


So says Ted Salmon is regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in an article on the Newcastle Journal website. Who does he site as an example? Leeds’ Data Mill.


If the democratic benefit is end of the open data argument, economic innovation is the other side of the coin. No surprise then, that an article by the FT has also been doing the rounds of open data people. It cites Transport API ( which “is already turning over almost £500,000 a year” as indicative of the kind of data processing business that has sprung up around open data.Not bad for a business that chief exec Jonathan Raper, says couldn’t have existed 5 years ago. I can see a lot of venture capitalists sharpening pencils at this news and its worth reflecting how much open data might be soap for a new bubble.


Transport API also get a mention in this article by Techworld listing 12 innovative companies using open data in the UK, based on an ODI report. Other familiar names on the list are open corporates, Geolytix (who won the ODI Open Data Business Award last year (beating open corporates). They also beat Socrata, who don’t make the list. But Swirrl do. Worth a look for the ones that don’t fall into the ‘usual suspects’ list.

Foodtrade ( for example seem like a good application that seems to go that stage beyond consulting, mining and aggregation. It’s s service driven by data rather than a data service.


There’s a slightly different take on that in Marketing where they talk about they way data about goods can help consumer confidence. I’d normally run a mile from this – its all customer modelling etc – but there’s couple of interesting angles here. The first is that much of the infrastructure mentioned here runs on the Blockchain – part of the underlying validation and verification of bitcoin. The other, and less esoteric, is the combination of data and stories of how products are made to really sell the idea of provenance.

One example cited is, not unsurprisingly, a start up called ( which aims to pull all of that together. I’ve some research projects that take this concept of attaching stories and extra data to objects using mobile platforms, qr codes and other identifying markers. The look and feel of Provenance, the artisan emphasis, would seem to me to fit with the City Talking approach – but I’m an old academic so what do I know – but that combination of object, data, stories and commerce is quite a compelling offer at a local level.


There are a growing number of tools around that help people visualise data. But one of the first (2007) was IBM’s Many eyes. A lot of initial experiments by non-data people, especially in journalism, went through Many Eyes, so it’s a shame to see it go.

The third Open Data conference ( was held last week in Ottawa. Canada has really picked up the mantel of open government from the US and there are loads of great examples from across the country. But the focus here was definitely more the international perspective and in particular data and developing countries. Those advocating data for development are a vocal and visible part of the open data community – it’s what prompted be to make the comparison between open data and the international development community after the ODI summit last year.

They identified 8 areas for action
* Action Area 1: Delivering the International Open Data Charter (
* Action Area 2: Strengthening a global network of open data leaders in government (
* Action Area 3: Promoting good practices on open data standards (
* Action Area 4: Coordinating among standardization groups (
* Action Area 5: Strengthening networks of public-interest Innovation (
* Action Area 6: Releasing the economic value of open data around the world (
* Action Area 7: Measuring Open Data (
* Action Area 8: Capacity building for all (

There’s loads of good commentary, blogging and other material that’s surfaced from the conference – and not a small amount of debate around what open data was actually supposed to be and do. Perhaps the best indication that Open data is really an issue now is that the conference also attracted it’s own version of the hulk twitter accounts – @OPENGOVHULK