Since April I’ve been doing a few days a week working for aidinfo on the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). IATI provides an agreed open data standard to which organisations are publishing their aid data.

aidinfo are one of a number of supporters of the Development Data Challenge at The Guardian offices at the end of August. Co-ordinated by Mark Brough from Publish What You Fund, it promises to be a stimulating weekend of data wrangling and visualising.

Having spent the last few months getting up to speed on what people are doing in this area I’m really looking forward to seeing what people create over the two days.Continue reading

When the Cabinet Office released its white paper on open data last month I asked this question:

So, can I FOI Service Birmingham now?

This was because, while the Open Data white paper can be viewed as a continuation of policies which develop our right to open data, we are also going through a period where the organisations which provide public services are being dispersed, often out of the public sector itself.

Door and Knocker II Another of Barcelona's ubiquitous fancy doors, though this was more interesting than ornate. Image Copyright ? 2007 Jeremiah Blatz

Whether it is privately owned health providers or social enterprises delivering local authority contracts, more and more of the organisations which hold and create the data produced in the course of public services are exempt from Freedom of Information legislation.Continue reading

Last Friday and Saturday I had a lot of fun hosting the Hello Culture Arts #DevLab at The Old Library in Digbeth. It was put on by Big Cat and Lara Ratnaraja with additional support from Digital Birmingham, Arts Council England, Rebel Uncut and the University of Birmingham.

Macs abound at Arts DevLab

We put a variety of arts and cultural organisations together with developers from a range of backgrounds and encouraged them to think about collaborating on some kind of digital project. We were quite clear that the purpose of the event wasn’t just to get some proof of concept apps to show at the end, but to work on relationships and longer term developments together.Continue reading

I had a wet but stimulating time at The Hay Festival last weekend, camping out with friends and attending a variety of interesting talks. Hay is a lovely town and the festival puts on events with a great range of writers, although due to the weather the number of linen suits and panama hats were way down this year.

Hay Signpost
I booked the individual event tickets for all of us and so whenever the festival had any updates or additional information I received an email from them.?Continue reading

When I was at BCU the other week I gave a presentation to Dave Harte‘s MA in Social Media students about open government data. We spoke about why open government data is a relevant topic for public organisations at the moment. Then we looked at different approaches to exploit the possibilities of open data, and I spoke about some of my experiences of doing this with Digital Birmingham. Finally we discussed why open data was a relevant topic for a course about social media.

Because I was worried this was all going to be a bit dry, I started off by showing them this video by Mark Flood.

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This week I went along to help out at a couple of sessions at Birmingham City University. It was a lot of fun. One of the teams of online journalism students are going to be doing a prison related project and I spoke to their editor about online sources. I thought it might be useful if I wrote a post that referenced them too.

There are a number of organisations who campaign for better conditions in prison. The main national ones are the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust. Frances Crook from the Howard League has a very good and informative blog.

Prison ?

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I spent the second afternoon of UK Gov Camp in the session on open data platforms for the public sector. I was fortunate enough to have a shared interest in this with Tim Davies who lead the group work we did. Tim has written up the development of a Charter of Engagement for open data that he and others did during the session on his blog.

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Harry Harrold of Neon Tribe had also spoken to me about some ideas he had for prototyping what an open data platform should look like. He came armed with a variety of hi-tech gadgetry: he had cardboard, scissors, paper, sticky-backed plastic……I was a little disappointed not to see any empty washing-up liquid bottles, but you can’t have everything.Continue reading

Like most participants I came away from?UKGovCamp this weekend fizzing with ideas and enthusiasm. I’ll post my thoughts over the next few weeks about various parts of the weekend. Firstly, I wanted to look at the morning session I attended on Saturday, which was co-hosted by Anthony Zacharzewski of the?Democratic Society and Catherine Howe from Public-i.

The session was based around the We Live Here work they are doing at the moment on the?Creative Councils programme funded by?Nesta. We were asked to look at the ways that neighbourhoods can be viewed as networks of networks and especially how characterising them in this way can refresh democratic engagement.

So, not lacking in ambition then.

#UKGC12 introductions worldle

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The BBC’s coverage of our recent civil disturbances has been a bit woeful at times. I’ve felt that they have blithered on about the pernicious influence of social media without questioning whether their own coverage of events has any kind of influence on them.

Tonight it all went a bit silly when they chose to take a report from a Tim Hart, who gave a rather breathless report in which he got the names of most of the streets wrong, misreported that the buses had all stopped at 3pm and claimed that looters had thrown rocks at him.

Compare this with what I’d seen Nicky Getgood Tweet at around the same time

[quotetweet tweetid=101018907225243648]

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