BarCamp Transparency #BCT09

by @edent | 2 comments

An inspiring day.

Remember to tag *EVERYTHING* #BCT09 on Twitpic

There were, I think, two main points of contention.

1) Information wants to be free - but personal information wants to be private.
2) Raw Data Now. Should we wait for standards - or just make them up as we go along?

As for (1) I'm happy for everyone to see my data if I can see theirs. Might reduce hypocrisy.  I'm aware that I'm in the minority here. There are a lot of sociological and usability issues as well.
For (2) I'm in the minority in that I think JFDI is a very bad idea. I want clear and stable standards. I don't want to fuss around with RSS on one site, JSON on the next and Serialised PHP on another - all with wildly different ontologies. For Government data - there should be central and enforced standards. I will take time and be painful - but it will save us effort and pain in the long run.

A particular highlight for me was meeting Paul Hiscoe of Transparency Data. They are the people behind Scores on the Doors (SOTD). SOTD collate publicly accessible data on food hygiene inspections by local councils. They then make those data easily available in a single place. They also, for a cost, provide an API for restaurant review sites and the like.

Brilliant! It's mobile! http://sotd.tv #BCT09 on Twitpic

That's it. That's all they do. They do it simply and well. They don't need to build a community, monetize, find a freemium proposition, charge end users, advertise, have a discussion board etc. They provide a simple and effective service. That's something certain people attending found to be too difficult a concept.

Not everything needs to be monetized. Especially when we, the taxpayers, have already paid. We pay for the information to be collected, collated and made available. There is no need to charge us again! Not every service is a business.

I also presented a talk about filming the police.
My session at #BCT09 come along, there's a video! on Twitpic

Qik only uploaded the first half - I'll try and get the rest working later.

A Few Bad Points

In truth this was a great BarCamp and produced some of the most stimulating conversations. The minor quibbles I have are mostly logistical. I only mention them because Sylwia specifically asked to hear what they could do better next time. They also serve as a gentle reminder for anyone else planning a BarCamp.

Oxford on a Sunday isn't the most accessible place. But it did make a nice change from London.

Gaps between session. There were none. It would have been good to have a five minute breather to let people go to the loo / stretch their legs / etc.

Lack of presenters. The three main rooms seemed well booked, but there were a lot of tourists. While I'm sure all had presented at a BarCamp before, a bit of encouragement could have given to get people presenting.

Crèche. I think it's great that people feel they can bring their kids to events like this. But they need to be given something to do. Having a screaming child run through your presentation is, at best, merely annoying. A few colouring-in books (or whatever kids have these days) might have calmed things down.

Vegetarian food. There was none. Well, to be fair, there was potato salad, cous-cous and crisps. I'm aware that I'm at fault for not stating in advance that I had particular dietary needs - but a few cheese sandwiches wouldn't have been too hard to conjure up!

Overall, minor quibbles on an otherwise excellent and informative day.

2 thoughts on “BarCamp Transparency #BCT09

  1. Thank you very much for your feedback!:) All of your points are very valid, and I do agree with most of them.
    Sunday - yes, we can do the next one on a Saturday, for instance!
    Gaps between the sessions - very good idea, we will incorporate it!
    Lack of presenters - it is the barcamp way of doing things, however we might look into few moderators next time or appoint one, that is doable!:)
    Kids - my bad! my son was supposed to be taken care of outside of the event, but since there was one more child, we decided to leave them in the club. However I do agree, this could have been managed better - and will be, promise!:) Some feedback was positive, so or we consider a creche, or we skip it - depends on more feedback.
    Vegetarian food - we will look into bringing more!

    Thank you, I am glad we can see how to improve!:) And thank you for all your input!

  2. Hi!

    Just joining Sylwia in thanking you for your feedback! All your points have been taken on board, and will make Barcamp Transparency 2010 even better!

    Anyway, glad you had a good time and found it useful! Thanks for coming!

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