A love-letter to OpenDataCamp #odcamp

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Last week I took an all-too-short visit to Aberdeen for Open Data Camp 6. A two-day unconference looking at Open Data from an international perspective. What works, what doesn't, how we can do better, and what exciting things are coming up.

I was mostly there for work - but managed to spend some time talking about our personal project OpenBenches. Here's a brief run down of what I loved, and what could have gone slightly better.

Terence and Liz at a laptop.


Scotland! It is so nice to attend an event outside of London! Kudos to the team for not just falling back on yet-another Central London conference venue. Also meant I got to try the Scots delicacy known as Butteries.

Diversity of voices. People from all over the world came - although curiously few from Scottish government bodies. Lots of students and people new to the Open Data world. Great to hear so many new and different voices.

Quality of discussion was high - as was attendance over both days. Usually there's a substantial drop-off on the 2nd day. I suspect that's partly because lots of people were away from home.

Lots of people were interested in the OpenBenches story. We discussed how it was set up, organised, and run. Is there a future for it? Will we need funding?

Room for improvement

Some of the conversation was... forthright. That's a polite way of saying that some people were over-eager to voice their displeasure at other attendee's opinions.

It is understandable that data formats arouse such passions - but it's quite intimidating if you're new to the scene, and especially off-putting if you don't know the history behind the people, their relationship, and their arguments. My wife has already written about this.

Surprisingly few women turned up. Something the team are looking into.

And, as ever, too many good conversations happening at once.

Where next

Open Data Camp is marvellous because it is always somewhere interesting - and that's the best way to attract new people to the cause.

If you're interested in hosting it - visit https://www.odcamp.uk/odcamp-hosting-guidance/

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