In Just over two week’s time the Open Data Institute will be convening their second ‘ODI Summit‘ conference, under the banner ‘Celebrating Generation Open’.
The framing is broad, and rich in ideals:
“Global citizens who embrace network thinking
We are innovators and entrepreneurs, customers and citizens, students and parents who embrace network thinking. We are not bound by age, income or borders. We exist online and in every country, company, school and community.
Our attitudes are built on open culture. We expect everything to be accessible: an open web, open source, open cities, open government, open data. We believe in freedom to connect, freedom to travel, freedom to share and freedom to trade. Anyone can publish, anyone can broadcast, anyone can sell things, anyone can learn and everyone can share.
With this open mindset we transform sectors around the world, from business to art, by promoting transparency, accessibility, innovation and collaboration.”
But, it’s not just idealistic language. Right across the programme are programme are projects which are putting those ideals into action in concrete ways. I’m fortunate to get to spend some of my time working with a number of the projects and people who will be presenting their work, including:
- Gavin Hayman, who will be sharing insights from Open Contracting Around the World – including how the Open Contracting Data Standard is being used to create interoperable data about the whole public procurement process.
- Alice Casey and Fran Perin, who will be talking about the 360Giving project, and the process of kick-starting a collaborative data project aiming to build the open data infrastructure of a sector.
- Dr Catherine Woteki, who, as a key instigator of the Global Open Data on Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) project will be talking about using open data to help feed a growing global population
Plus, my fellow co-founder at Open Data Services Co-operative, Ben Webb, will be speaking on some of the work we’ve been doing to support Open Contracting, 360Giving and projects with the Natural Resource Governance Institute.
Across the rest of the Summit there are also presentations on open data in arts, transport, biomedical research, journalism and safer surfing, to name just a few.
What is striking about this line up is that very few of these projects will be presenting on one-off demonstrations, but will be sharing increasingly mature projects: and projects which are increasingly diverse, as they recognise that data is one element of a theory of change, and being embedded in specific sectoral debates and action is just as important.
In some ways, it raises the question of how much a conference on open data in general can hold together: with so many different domains represented, is open data a strong enough thread to bind them together. On this question, I’m looking forward to Becky Hogge’s reflections when she launches a new piece of research at the Summit, five years on from her widely cited Open Data Study. In a preview of her new report, Becky argues that “It’s time for the open data community to stop playing nice” – moving away from trying to tie together divergent economic and political agendas, and putting full focus into securing and using data for specific change.
With ‘generation open’ announced: the question for us then is how does generation open cope with growing up. As the projects showcased at the summit move beyond the rhetoric, and we see that whilst in theory ‘anyone can do anything’ with data – in practice, access and ability is unequally distributed – how will debates over the ends to which we use the freedoms brought by ‘open’ play out?
I’ll be blogging on the ideas and debates at the summit, as the folk at ODI have kindly invited Open Data Services as a media supporter. As a result they’ve also given me this link to share which will get anyone still to book 20% of their tickets. Perhaps see you there.