Defra, open data driven journalism sites and the shock that I could have been called Sebastian[/aesop_content]
** #OPENDEFRA (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/environment-secretary-speech-on-the-future-of-food-and-farming)
Lots of excitement this week as Elizabeth Truss announced a more open data approach at DEFRA.. In the speech she promised that “over the next year, virtually all the data Defra holds—at least 8,000 sets”.
Not everyone is convinced they have that much data to make open.Owen Boswarva, in a nice roundup of the kind of data we could see (http://mapgubbins.tumblr.com/post/122625990445/open-defra-what-is-it-and-what-do-we-know-so) , ponders if there may be (a no less constructive) release that’s more a ‘little and often approach’ rather than all the data. Like the LIDAR release, it’ll be interesting to see what people outside the specialist areas. For those inside there seems to be a ‘wait and see attitude’. One farmer, already experimenting with data-driven projects (http://www.edp24.co.uk/business/farming-news/defra_secretary_elizabeth_truss_says_data_giveaway_will_help_food_and_farming_businesses_1_4126429) said ” I struggle to see how the data will tell us too much more than what we are already paying for ourselves to be done and I doubt whether farming practices will change dramatically on the back of it.” Key there is the suggestion that there is already a market there which
might make the data release less useful for for new players trying to get over the bar.
** NEW NORTHERN IRELAND OPEN DATA AND DATA JOURNALISM PORTAL (http://data.nicva.org/)
On Monday the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) launched a new open data portal: detaildata. The kicker is the connection with Journalism website,The Detail. (http://www.thedetail.tv/investigations/data) They say
“Data journalists based at The Detail will produce 30 high-impact data stories as part of the project which will link in with this Portal.” The detail are no slouches in this area (http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/further-awards-for-the-detail-s-journalism) having won awards for the statistical quality of their journalism. As a model it’s clearly got a lot in common with the media mill project. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
** ENGAGING LONDONERS IN OPEN DATA (http://data.london.gov.uk/blog/engaging-londoners-in-open-data/)
…and, not a day after I’d been looking Detail Data, I discover http://urbs.london (http://urbs.london/) . The developers say it’s a prototype channel “90% based on London Datastore releases, which we work through in a pretty systematic way, looking for stories and insights that will interest and engage Londoners.”
Interestingly they say that users for the site come from the 50% of Londoners not born or bred there.
** DOES YOUR DATA WORK FOR YOU (http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/features/data-video/) ?
A nice video from NESTA off the back of their Digital R&D Fund for the Arts:
“To share what we’ve learned we have a guide (http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/DigitalRDFundGuide_Data.pdf) on how you can utilise your data and a video to share how some of the great R&D projects have made their data work for them. There is also a tool kit (http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/toolkit/) to help you explore this and other digital possibilities.”
** “OPEN DATA” IS BROKEN AND NEEDS TO BE FIXED (http://blog.mangomap.com/post/63533703121/open-data-is-broken-and-needs-to-be-fixed?utm_source=edgar&utm_medium=social&utm_content=article&utm_campaign=blogcycle)
It’s a rant but a succinct one:
“If you are creating an government open-data portal here are some things you need to know”
** OPENING UP LOCAL GOV SPENDING (https://opendatastudy.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/who-is-using-local-spending-data/)
If you like your advice a little less ranting, then this post is a fascinating little vignette into the interest (or lack of it) in using open data portals by Ben Worthy:
“The evidence to date from my FOI requests, survey and interviews shows a limited number of people are looking at the information on websites. Compared with other more eye catching sites such as the online crime map police.uk (http://www.police.uk/) or the data portal interest is relatively low (you can see some more statistics here (https://opendatastudy.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/who-is-using-local-spending-data/) ).”
Any of the links in the article are worth a click
** SOLUTIONS JOURNALISM. POINTING OUT THE POSITIVE (http://www.niemanlab.org/2015/06/from-nieman-reports-solutions-journalism-brings-data-and-good-news-together-to-engage-readers/)
Nieman Labs have an interesting piece on journalism that aims to show how things have got better rather than which bits are the worst. It’s more than a positive spin on news. The report suggests that a combination of journalism, data and a constructive approach helps spread best practice. The idea of being part of the solution rather than simply reporting the problem feels like one of those things that shouldn’t be a big leap but…
** OPEN LETTER FROM OPEN DATA USER GROUP (http://odug.org.uk/odug-letter-to-the-new-government-2015/)
“Following the recent appointment of a Government Chief Data Officer, and the formation of a new Government, ODUG would like to highlight the key issues facing users and producers of Open Data during the new Parliament”
The open data user group have written an open letter (http://odug.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ODUG_Letter_to_the_new_Government.pdf) outlining what they think are important areas for government to consider with respect to open data. Their main points are:
* put plans in place to deliver the National Information Infrastructure (NII),
* an end to the sale of public data assets to third parties for private profit.
* strengthening of the process for requesting open data sets from Government
* continued support for small projects which can release new open data sets
One part that caught my eye was the belief that “More work is needed to understand the needs of data consumers and curators” A laudable aim but I’d like to see a clearer statement of the difference between citizens as consumers and business as consumers. There seems little point in calling for an end to ‘sales for private profit’ and the problems that causes for access, to simply re-create the same problem in the private sector
** WHERE NEXT FOR DATA INFRASTRUCTURE? (http://theodi.org/blog/where-next-for-data-infrastructure-work)
In that vein, the ODI have been “exploring how data that is important for citizens, communities and countries should be collected, governed and used”. It’s an ongoing theme that touches on issues of ownership, especially important in a growing open data market economy.
We cannot presume that all data will be open, or that all essential data that forms part of a community or country’s data infrastructure will be owned by government.
** DON’T LEAVE DIGITAL GOVERNMENT TO WHITEHALL (http://www.computerweekly.com/news/4500249008/Do-not-leave-digital-government-development-to-Whitehall-says-Chi-Onwurah-MP)
So says shadow Cabinet Office minister Chi Onwurah:. ”
Technology treated in isolation from society can worsen many of the problems it purports to solve.”
Damian Radcliffe, Honourary Research Fellow at Cardiff University, gives his five top tips for doing data journalism simply and effectively.
** DATA JOURNALISM IS A CULTURAL SKILL (http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2015/06/24/data-journalism-isnt-just-a-technical-skill-its-a-cultural-one-too/)
I often get the sense that data journalism as a cultural approach is more concerned with bridging the cultures inside a news organisation than with the audience. This post from Paul Bradshaw, thinking about data journalism as more than a technical skill speaks to that point. It’s aimed at journalists but there’s plenty to apply outside the newsroom.
** DATA STORYTELLING?
There is some good advice in here (and it’s certainly popular) but it shows how infographics can promise more than they deliver in information terms. (who know’s what that lightbulb is doing!)
** Visuals and data
Crayon colours through the ages and what your name would be if you were born today…Sebastian! I ask you…