Sunday, March 29, 2009

5th COMMUNIA workshop

Last week I attended the 5th COMMUNIA workshop on Accessing, Using, Reusing Public Sector Content and Data. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of the presentations, the depth of the discussion, and the pragmatic approach to the topic of public sector information. I mean pleasantly surprised not because the previous workshops were irrelevant or lacked quality, but because one expects wide-ranging workshops like these to be uneven in quality. As you can surmise from my introduction, this workshop broke the trend, and quality and relevance were very even.

The highlights for me were:

  • Tom Watson MP (Minister for Digital Engagement and Civil Service Issues). I must admit that I was sceptical about the inclusion of a politician in the programme, and was therefore expecting a contentless keynote. However, it became clear that Tom Watson MP really gets that when we talk about creativity nowadays, we are not only talking about the "creative industries".
  • Simon Field (Chief Technology Officer, Office for National Statistics). This was one of my favourite presentations, not only because it contained slides from Edward Tufte, but because it made a very important point about not only hodling the right data, but the way you present it is of utter importance.
  • Richard Owens (WIPO). Again, a meaty presentation from policymakers, showing that the "openness" agenda is gaining traction in some policy circles.
  • Edward Betts (Open Library). Very interesting presentation about the open library project. I particularly liked some of the references to the potential copyright problems of ghost writing (as in actual deceased writers), or the copyright of reincarnated people.
  • Hilary Roberts (Imperial War Museum on Flickr Commons). Hilary presented a clear example of how to distribute content from a museum colection online, and about the reasons behind the reluctance from memory institutions to adopt CC.
Kudos to the organisers, this was highly enjoyable workshop, despite the open source fashion show (trust me, you DO NOT want to know).

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