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Hacking Open Data for Communities

Time to Put Pen to Paper

It has become increasingly evident over the past five years that the number of people working with open data has increased, with hundreds of data catalogues being released in the last year alone [http://datacatalogs.org/] and collaborative definitions of ‘openness’ being translated around the globe [http://opendefinition.org]. But challenges remain, especially regarding growing disparities of access to digital technologies amongst non-techies — a problem that has sometimes resulted in the condemnation of existing initiatives for perpetuating an “Open Data Divide.” [http://ow.ly/8MJex]. If the open data movement is about providing more information to more communities in order to advance positive social change, how can we engage disenfranchised groups on the other side of such a problematic divide?

In this critical and participatory session, we aim to re-think existing debates by exploring this question from the context of our own work as community organisers and techies at the Open Knowledge Foundation and at Publish What You Fund. We’ll talk about our own challenges and experiences in the field of open knowledge, especially regarding spending and aid data, while displaying some of the newly-developed visualisations, tools and projects [both digitial and physical] that our networks have already implemented to make sense of such data. We will then open the discussion up to session participants for debate and critique. Our aim is for participants to leave the session with a set of substantive ideas for practical applications that can provoke new types of citizen engagement and combat existing divides between techies and non-techies.

Please note that there will indeed be pens and paper involved, as well as excessive use of both stickers and eye contact.