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School of Data Fellows: Applications are CLOSED!

Lucy Chambers - June 11, 2014 in Community, News, Update

Yesterday – 10th June, we closed our first ever round of applications for fellows. We are astounded by the response and wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who applied and everyone who helped with the outreach!

This is a quick post to slice and dice our applications data and to let applicants know about the next steps!

Image credits: Alex France on Flickr

We received over 200 applications from 51 different countries, here’s how they sliced up:

Applications by region:

Africa – 55
Asia- 45
Europe – 30
Latin America -52
MENA – 8
Not eligible/ Duplicate – 11

We’re also delighted to announce a large number of female applicants – approximately ⅓ of applicants. While we will clearly work to make sure we achieve even better than this in terms of equality, we are delighted to see such a promising start from our first round of applications!

What’s next?

The School of Data team and the crack team of local experts from each region will be combing the applications in the next few days. Shortlisted applicants will receive an email in the next few days requesting an interview with the team.

All candidates will be evaluated according to the same criteria. As a refresh, here’s what they are:

  • Overall impression
  • Teaching potential
  • Skills and experience
  • Potential to support NGOs and/ or journalists
  • Bonus points (as we mentioned before – things like superb videos or quirky application methods etc will be looked upon favourably)

What if I didn’t get selected or wasn’t eligible?

Don’t despair! We’re working on two major areas:

1) An enhanced community programme, which will outline lots of ways to get involved with School of Data. Watch this space or sign up for the newsletter below.
2) The next round of fellowship applications, we hope to be able to run this programme again – hopefully with a wider selection of countries. Watch this space!

Don’t want to miss an announcement? Sign up for the School of Data newsletter!

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Announcing the School of Data Fellows

Milena Marin - July 15, 2014 in Community, News

We are proud to announce the School of Data Fellows 2014. During the next six months 12 amazing individuals will train and collaborate with civil society and journalists to drive accountability, transparency and social change across five continents. The Fellows are joining OKFestival this week in Berlin and will take part in a dedicated School of Data Summer Camp with trainers, partners and staff to share skills and develop action plans.

We are grateful for the interest from partners and members in the School of Data community. A special thank you to the more than 200 applicants who applied to join the programme.

Meet the School of Data Fellows

Antonio Cucho Gamboa, Peru
Antonio is a specialist in website development – as a PHP and Python programmer. He is the founder of the Open Data community Peru and Co-organizer of Hacks / Hackers Lima. Participate in projects Open Data, Data Journalism. In Juny 2013 I participated in AbreLatam 2013 in Montevideo, Uruguay with my project Lima I/O (DAL Regional Winner 2012). In February 2014 I organized a Open Data Day Peru, we had workshops, hackaton and talks about open data. Also in March 2014 I went to Montevideo, Uruguay to participated in the first Databootcamp for journalists. This year, I’m teaching open data tools in some workshops for journalists, citizens and NGO’s.

Codrina Illie
codrina photo
Codrina is a PhD Student at the Technical University of Civil Engineering, Bucharest working within the Groundwater Engineering Research Center “CCIAS”. She is actively promoting free and open source software for geospatial and she is a dynamic supporter of the open data movement in Romania through her work within the geo-spatial.org community. Codrina is part of the GEodata Openness Initiative for Development and Economic Advancement in ROmania project team. The main objective of GEOIDEA.ro is to improve the scientific basis for open geodata model adoption in Romania. The project is built on the strong believe that publishing government geodata in Romania over the Internet, under an open license and in a reusable format can strengthen citizen engagement and yield new innovative businesses, bringing substantial social and economic gains. You can follow her on twitter.

Dona Djambaska, Macedonia
Dona graduated in the field of Environmental Engineering and has been working with the Metamorphosis foundation in Skopje for the past 6 years in assisting on projects in the field of information society. There she has focused on organising trainings for computer skills, social media, online promotion, photo and video activism. Dona is also an active contributor and member of the Global Voices Online community. She dedicates her spare time to artistic and activism photography.

Hannah Williams, South Africa
Hannah is a graphic designer working in both web and print. She also does copy writing now and again and have worked on a couple of public art projects. Recently she she has been trying to focus more on doing work that has a positive social impact. You can find some of her work here: http://www.hannahwilliams.co.za

Happy Feraren, the Philippines
Happy Feraren is the co-founder and CEO of Bantay.ph – a Manila based civil society organization (CSO) that monitors the quality of service in frontline government offices through volunteer reports. Along with the rest of her team, Bantay.ph has engaged over 100 student volunteers to monitor their local government offices and check for compliance of service standards mandated by the law. Her CSO aims to uplift the standard of public service and create a culture of active citizenship. Happy finished a degree in Literature at the De La Salle University, Manila before pursuing a career in advertising. After 4 years in the industry, she decided to leave advertising to work full time in the development sector. She is also a member of Manila’s premiere improvisational theater group, SPIT (Silly People’s Improv Theater). As a member of the group, she has performed in international improv festivals, conducted training modules for corporations, and developed special immersive theater shows. She also has diverse local and international experience in the fields of education, tourism, broadcasting, and HR training.

Joachim Mangilima, Tanzania
Joachim Mangilima is a technology and data enthusiast with a passion for using technology and data in addressing the most common problems facing communities around the world. He is active in consulting in the areas of development, deployment and management of mobile and web-based solutions and systems for decision support, data collection, analysis and management. Joachim is also the Co-founder and Co-manager of Google Developer Group (GDG), Dar es Salaam, a group of technology enthusiasts and software developers who are interested in open source technology with a bias in Google’s developer technology; this includes everything from the Android, App Engine, and Google Chrome platforms, to product APIs like the Maps API, YouTube API and Google Calendar API. Joachim holds a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Dar es Salaam majoring in Computer Science and Statistics with a minor in Economics.

Nisha Thompson, India
Nisha is currently working as Lead Organizer of a new organization called DataMeet, which is a community of people who are working towards open data by sharing experiences and helping others with data related problems. Datameet is hosting meetups and Open Data Camps around the country to promote dialogue about the use of data for civic purposes. Nisha moved to India in 2010 and worked with the India Water Portal to open up water data and worked with partners on the ground to improve the use and management of data. She also co-wrote a report on Open Government Data in India with the Centre for Internet and Society located in Bangalore. Previously she has worked with the Sunlight Foundation, in the United States, as social media and community organizer.

Oludotun Babayemi, Nigeria
Oludotun Babayemi has 5 years experience in the nonprofit sector and a Masters degree in Information Management. He is a Monitoring and Evaluation Expert with Connected Development [CODE], and the Lead Development Consultant with Cloneshouse Nigeria. He is a Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional and presently a USAID and Google sponsored CrisisMapper Fellow. Oludotun Babayemi is working on monitoring and evaluation systems [such as the Follow The Money and the Education Budget Tracker] that could be used in putting pressure on governments and organizations in developing countries to be more responsive to demands from internal and external stakeholders for good governance, accountability and transparency, greater development effectiveness and delivery of tangible results. He has worked in participatory mapping projects with UNOCHA during the Libya Crisis, UNOSAT in the Post Libya Crisis Geotagging , WHO in the health facility registry post-Libya Crisis, Amnesty International-US during the Syria Uprising, UNSPIDER in the Samoa Simulation Exercise, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Simulation Exercise and also with USAID on the mapping of poverty alleviation projects around the world. He was the Geo-Team Lead with Humanity Road using his expertise in information communications in disasters and humanitarian relief support.

Rita Zágoni, Hungary
Rita is a programmer with social science background. She has worked in IT management and web development before joining the Economics department of Central European University, where she is in charge of parsing unstructured, free text data to create analyzable format. Wandering across these fields she has gained some experience in website development, text processing and statistics using mainly Python, Java and MySQL.

Ruben Moya, Mexico
Ruben studied computer science at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (UDG). He is currently freelancing developing web applications. He is a follower of technology and love to see new places. In the past months he has given lectures on code optimization, and have been teaching basic and advanced programming and developing. He also manages the programming of online conferences (hangouts) and online courses on various topics of technology, development and design.

Siyabonga Africa, South Africa
Siyabonga Africa
Siyabonga is from the east coast of South Africa but is currently living in Gauteng and working as a data visualization lead developer at Apehllion. His career has its roots in public administration and journalism from the University of Pretoria and Stellenbosch University respectively. He completed his masters in new media design at Indiana University before returning to South Africa in 2012.

Yuandra Ismiraldi, Indonesia
Yuandra is a full stack mobile engineer and game developer from Indonesia. He holds a bachelor and master degree in software engineering, and started his career working with several startups in mobile and gaming space. He became interested in open data after participating in a hackathon about open data. Thinking that open data is a very interesting field, he is currently expanding his skill set to the world of open data and feels that information technology can become a great tool for open data.

Delivery partners
The Fellowship Programme is developed and delivered with Code for Africa, Social-Tic (Mexico) and Publish What You Pay Indonesia.

Funding partners
The School of Data Fellowship is made possible thanks to the generous support from the World Bank through the Partnership for Open Data, Hivos, Indigo Trust, Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative (SEATTI), The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Open Society Foundations.

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Festing with School of Data

Heather Leson - July 8, 2014 in Community, Data Expeditions, Data Stories, Events, School_Of_Data

School of Data Fellows, Partners, Friends, staff and supporters will converge on Berlin next week for OKFestival: July 15 – 17, 2014. We know that many of you may be attending the festivities and we’d love to connect.

Mingling: Science is Awesome!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 18:00 CET
OKfestival starts with a Science Fair to help you get to a taste of of all the amazing people and activities. We’ll be there to share School of Data with the large global community. Please stop by and say hi!

Activity: Be A Storyteller

July 15 – 17, 2014
As those of you who have attended Data Expeditions before, being able to tell an impactful story is key to success. Join the Storytelling team as we meander through the festival collecting and sharing real-time stories. To join.

Session: How to Teach Open Data

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 15:30 – 16:30 CET
Are you passionate about teaching data and tech? Are you striving to support a community of data teachers and learners? Are you keen to exchange experiences with other professionals in the field of teaching data? Then this is the right session for you.
Join us for a conversation about standards and methodologies for data teaching with School of Data, Peer to Peer University and Open Tech School.

  • How to organise tech and data workshops
  • Building effective curriculum and accreditation
  • Type of education activities: a blended offline, online
  • Designing passion driven communities

More about the session.

Informal Session: How to Build a School of Data

Thursday, July 17, 2014 16:30 – 17:15 CET (same room as the previous session.)
Are you keen to join School of Data? Do you want to set up a School of Data instance in your locale? Join us to meet staff, fellows and partners. We’ll answer your questions and start the conversations.

Most of all – happy Festing!

(Note: For those of you are unable to attend OKfestival, we’ll be sure to share more details post-event. See you online.)

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What’s new at School of Data

Heather Leson - July 2, 2014 in Community, Events

What’s new at School of Data? Today we held a Community Session all about School of Data. In the session, we shared updates on fellowships and upcoming events, including OKFestival and School of Data Summer Camp. As well, we talked about what it means to be involved in School of Data – as a partner, fellow, contributor and potentially a School of Data instance. We are very keen to get your input on how you want to be involved and garner your guidance for upcoming programming and community plans.

Here is our 30 minute conversation for your review:

As well, we’ve set up a School of Data Youtube Playlist. If you have a video related to School of Data, just send it our way and we’ll add it.

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Community Origami: How can we better Support you

Heather Leson - June 30, 2014 in Community, Events

stickies are love

We have two School of Data Community Sessions this week. The goal is to share the latest School of Data news from you and the team. We will also be asking some questions on how we can better serve your learning and teaching journeys. Join us for either of the timezone friendly sessions:

School of Data – Community Session (G+ Hangout to air)
Date: Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Time: 09:00 EDT/14:00 BST/15:00 CEST
Register for the July 2nd session

School of Data – Community Session( G+ Hangout to air)
Date: Thursday, July 3, 2014
Time: 08:00 BST/ 07:00 UTC/09:00 CEST/15:00 PHT
Register for the July 3rd session

Small, Medium and Large Tasks

We’ve been doing some analysis to try and better support you – community members. With a growing community plus the overwhelming interest in fellowships, we want to make it easier for you to get involved. Here are some ideas and some suggested programming ideas. Join us for the community calls or drop us a line – info at schoolofdata dot org or heather dot leson at okfn dot org. Our goal is to get your input and plan together.

Here is a list of some ideas we have:
Our goal is to be a value-driven community. Tell us what you would like to do and we will work to co-build it with you.

  • Blog editors
  • Blog post procurement/wrangling
  • Social media outreach – twitter, facebook
  • Regular online meeting co-chair
  • Bloggers
  • Badge committee to help design and test badges
  • Website committee to help build and test website
  • local event organizers
  • storytellers – impact interviews, regular storify
  • assistants for weekly roundup
  • feedback loops -test loomio?
  • assist on Q & A tool?
  • Writing and Curating online courses/modules

If you are really keen, we think there is about 24 different roles/tasks that could be done ranging in type of activity and levels of time/skill (small, medium and large tasks).

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Tech projects for transparency – a new guide to the ‘Fundamentals’ that deliver impact and save money

Heather Leson - June 25, 2014 in Community, Data for CSOs, HowTo, Impact Case Study, narrative, Resources

[Cross-posted from the TABridge network. Visit tech.transparency-initiative.org to learn more and download the new 'Fundamentals' guide. Thanks Jed Miller for the post for the support. The report was written by Dirk Slater of FabRiders. ]

LONDON, 17 June 2014—The Transparency and Accountability Initiative is proud to launch a practical new guide for transparency campaigners planning and executing technology projects.

Fundamentals for Using Technology in Transparency and Accountability Organisations presents clear, step-by-step guidance to the key phases in a technology project, from defining your strategy, to spending wisely, to tracking outcomes.

The guide is also designed to help funders identify projects with the potential to succeed and provide effective support to grantees.

Too often, technology projects burn money and staff time, but still lack impact. In ‘Fundamentals,’ author Dirk Slater and experts from our TABridge network distil years of experience into the principles and steps that drive success in technology projects.
The guide will help you:

  • Clarify why you’re creating your technology project and how it contributes to your overall organisational strategy.
  • Ensure you have the internal capacity and external expertise to manage the project.
  • Build in early and regular evaluations of your progress so that rather than end up with an expensive failure, you can detect problems early and adjust as you go.

Vanessa Herringshaw, director of the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, said:

“Digital tools have great potential to improve transparency, but if we’re honest, it’s also really easy to get it wrong. Developing technologies to expose corruption and engage citizens in the fight for accountable government demands significant resources, but without smart planning, money gets wasted and opportunities get lost. The guide is a roadmap for NGOs and funders who want to get tech right.”

“Technology is not a panacea,” said Rakesh Rajani, civil society co-chair of the Open Government Partnership and head of East African CSO Twaweza, “It is one piece in larger social change. T/AI’s ‘Fundamentals’ guide addresses the reality that tools that don’t match the local context or aren’t linked into other approaches can’t solve the deep problems that weaken government accountability or citizen mobilization alone. The guide seeks to help people think through these needs and linkages, and make more effective choices.”

‘Fundamentals’ is presented in six chapters, which can be used separately or as a unit:

It also includes appendices that help organisations to match technology tactics to different stakeholders; ensure that projects are guided by a user-centred approach; ask the right questions when planning mobile-based outreach; and enlist data and open data effectively for advocacy.

To support our community of practice and deepen the impact of the guide, the Transparency and Accountability Initiative is hosting a series of webinars this spring and summer, based on the guide’s key recommendations.

For easy use, ‘Fundamentals’ is available to read online or to download in full or chapter by chapter. Learn more and get started at: http://tech.transparency-initiative.org/fundamentals.

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Interview: Bikestorming

Heather Leson - June 23, 2014 in Community, Data Expeditions, Events


We are joined by Matías Kalwill of Bikestorming to share how he has used his love of cycling and special events including data expeditions to build a product and community. He recently presented this PechaKucha talk all about his project.

(Traducción en español abajo)

Bikestorming is a great project. Can you tell us about the project and its evolution?

Bikestorming is a soon-to-be-released mobile app to grow urban cycling everywhere. It helps people navigate the city on a bicycle by providing them with amazingly useful information in a Map. And it invites them to contribute to this information through Missions.

This information is actually open data available and produced by the community. We either use data from open sources like local open data portals and OpenStreetMap, or open the datasets gathered in the local activation of the app, and push it back to the open knowledge ecosystem.

To achieve this “always-open” workflow with the data is not an easy task, since the data we bring into a local map is usually scattered around websites, loosely-tagged entries on OpenStreetMap, or PDFs and Word documents (ouch!!!) in local government offices. That’s why part of our effort is to solving this problems in the back-end: bring multiple and diverse data sources together, and push them into the app, and into the open, in an elegant and useful manner.

After a couple of years of experimenting with a wide range of technologies, both the mobile and server app are coming together in a surprisingly useful and beautiful way. We look forward to sharing this with the Open Knowledge community and seeing what crazy hacks might happen from that :)


How have you connected via communities (eg. Hacks/Hackers and Escuela de Datos) to build your project?

Though the project was born out of the urban cycling and music/art scene of Buenos Aires, after some time working on the vision / mission / values statement it became clear that this was going to be a tech project. I’m a Visual Arts and Industrial Design graduate, so whatever I learned about apps, code and data I learned by hacking and making with the amazing civic tech community of Buenos Aires and beyond. The first lines of code where actually written on Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires’ Media Party in 2012, and all developers on board now I have met at civic hackatons and tech meetups. I have personally punched a ton of pencils, pixels, wireframes and time into the app, but it would have never happened without the community getting behind it across two years of hacking on every idea i’d pitch, at pretty much every civic tech meet up of 2012 and 2013 in Buenos Aires. It’s been super fun.


What are the next steps for Bikestorming?
Right now we are piloting the app roll-out in a small and medium city. This means both packaging and distributing the app here, as well as working with the local community and government to figure out what and how this makes sense and can grow for each specific place, at this time.

The way we work with the local communities is through productive meet-ups called Bikestorming Expeditions, which started as a fork of the School of Data’s Data Expeditions, and are designed to to identify, gather and open datasets to activate the app in a any given city, at any given time.

All of this is happening right now in Uruguay. There might be something big in August, of which I shouldn’t say too much because it’s still cooking. But follow us on Twitter to stay tuned for some exciting news, about a massive open data collaboration happening in a small and beautiful country on this side of the planet :)

After this we would like to do a roll out the app in a big city on either North America or Europe. Working slowly through the winter to have the app running for springtime gives us the time and momentum we need, to learn from the community and iterate on the technology, so we can make an amazing product.

Sometime on 2015 we should be ready to roll out everywhere. We believe that the world is full of bikestormers, waiting to connect as a community and get their hands on this exciting project, both as users and makers.

Bikestorming-Screens 2

Any tips you can share with people who want to do something similar?

Well, although we’ve gotten a lot of attention from the media and received a bunch of awards, I’m not sure I’m entitled to giving advice, since our product is not out there yet. I mean, it could totally fail and have no one use it. Then I’m sure I would have a lot of advice to give hehe.

But I can share an important insights about civic tech I’ve learned a long the way:

Don’t settle for an awesome vision with a lame product.

Let me explain: your vision should guide your product as it evolves, but never replace it. If you are building a piece of civic technology to improve other people’s lifes, work hard to listen and understand what your audience needs. Don’t just package your values into an app. Your product should solve very specific problems for a very specific audience. Make it fun. Make it sexy.

Make it affordable and easy to understand. Because if you succeed in solving this specific problem for a very specific audience, in an engaging way, your product might go beyond its initial borders of super-concerned individuals and early adopters. It might become a great tool for this new kind of active citizenship that is emerging everywhere, thanks to faster networks and low-cost mobile devices.

It is important to build good, vision-driven apps. To make them well, and have them go mainstream.

It cannot be that people only drool for profit-driven products.

We need civic tech that is hot and awesome.

Bikestorming: Datos, ciclismo y apps


Este blog post fue escrito originalmente en inglés para School of Data por Matías Kalwill, director del inspirador proyecto (orgullosamente latino) que nos comparte hoy.

Bikestorming es una aplicación móvil de próximo lanzamiento, para aumentar el ciclismo urbano en las ciudades. Ayuda a las personas a navegar la ciudad en bicicleta al proveerles de información altamente útil en un mapa, y les invita a contribuir a agregar información a través de misiones.

Esta información de hecho se trata de datos abiertos disponibles y producidos por la comunidad. Usamos datos de fuentes abiertas como portales y OpenStreetMap, o abrimos los datasets compilados en activaciones locales de la aplicación para incorporarlos al ecosistema de conocimiento abierto.

Conseguir este flujo de información “siempre abierta” no es tarea sencilla, pues los datos que llevamos a un mapa local generalmente están distribuidos en distintos sitios, entradas con etiquetas diversas en OpenStreetMap, o PDFs o documentos de Word (¡OUCH!) de gobiernos locales. Por eso, parte de nuestro esfuerzo es resolver estos problemas tras bambalinas: juntar fuentes múltiples de datos y llevarlas al app y al ecosistema abierto de manera elegante y útil.

Después de un par de años de experimentación con un amplio rango de tecnologías, las aplicaciones móvil y de servidor por fin están en crecimiento. Esperamos ansiosamente el día de compartir esto con la comunidad de Open Knowledge y ver qué hacks locos pueden surgir de ello. :)


¿Cómo se han conectado a comunidades (como Hacks/Hackers y Escuela de Datos) para impulsar el proyecto?

Aunque el proyecto nació en las escenas de ciclismo urbano y música/arte de Buenos Aires, se volvió claro cuando trabajamos en la visión/misión/valores de Bikestorming que esto iba a ser un proyecto tecnológico. Soy graduado de Artes visuales y Diseño industrial, así que todo lo que he aprendido sobre apps, código y datos ha sido gracias a la increíble comunidad de tecnología para usos cívicos en Buenos Aires y alrededores. Escribimos las primeras líneas de código de Bikestorming en la Media Party de Hacks/Hackers en 2012, y conocí a todos los desarrolladores involucrados en el proyecto en hackatones y meetups de tecnología para fines cívicos. Personalmente, he inyectado muchos lápices, pixeles, diseño y tiempo al app, pero nunca hubiera avanzado como lo hice sin la comunidad que la ha respaldado durante dos años de hackeo de todas las ideas que he presentado en casi todos los eventos a los que he asistido desde 2012 en Buenos Aires. Ha sido muy divertido.


¿Cuáles son los siguientes pasos para Bikestorming?

Ahora estamos piloteando el lanzamiento de Bikestorming en una ciudad pequeña y mediana. Esto significa “empaquetar” y distribuir el app ahí, así como trabajar con la comunidad y los gobiernos locales para ver cómo esto hace sentido y puede crecer para cada lugar específico.

La manera en que trabajamos con comunidades locales es a través de meetups productivos llamados Expediciones Bikestorming, que empezaron como una adaptación de las expediciones de datos de Escuela de Datos, y están diseñadas para identificar, recolectar y abrir datasets para activar el app en una ciudad en un momento determinado.

Todo esto está sucediendo ahora en Uruguay. Podría haber algo grande en agosto, de lo cual no debería contar demasiado pues aún se está cocinando. Pero síguenos en Twitter para estar al tanto de las noticias que compartiremos acerca de una gran colaboración de datos abiertos sucediendo en un pequeño y bello país en este lado del planeta :)

Después de esto, nos gustaría lanzar el app en alguna ciudad grande de Norteamérica o Europa. Trabajar durante el invierno para tener el app lista para la primavera nos da el tiempo y fuerza necesarios para aprender de la comunidad y alimentar así la tecnología para tener un producto sensacional.

En algún punto de 2015 deberíamos estar listos para hacer el lanzamiento en todos lados. Creemos que el mundo está lleno de bikestormers esperando a conectarse como comunidad y sumarse al proyecto, como usuarios y como co-creadores.

Bikestorming-Screens 2

¿Algún tip que puedas compartir con personas que quieren hacer algo similar?

Bueno – aunque hemos recibido mucha atención de los medios y algunos premios, no me siento con la autoridad de dar consejos, pues nuestro producto aún no sale. Es decir, podría fallar totalmente – lanzarse y que nadie la usara. En ese caso, tendría muchos consejos que dar, jeje.

Pero puedo compartir una reflexión sobre tecnología para fines cívicos que he aprendido a lo largo del camino:

No te conformes con una visión excelente ejecutada en un mal producto.

Me explico: tu visión debe guiar tu producto en su evolución, pero nunca reemplazarlo. Si estás construyendo una tecnología con fines cívicos para mejorar las vidas de otras personas, trabaja duro para escuchar y entender lo que necesita tu audiencia. No sólo pongas tus valores en un app. Tu producto debe resolver problemas muy específicos para una audiencia muy específica. Hazlo divertido. Hazlo sexy.

Hazlo asequible y fácil de entender, pues si tienes éxito en la resolución de ese problema específico de esa audiencia específica en una manera que la involucre, tu producto podría ir más allá de las fronteras iniciales de individuos súper interesados y usuarios tempranos. Podría convertirse en una gran herramienta para este nuevo tipo de ciudadanía activa que está emergiendo en todos lados, gracias a redes más rápidas y móviles de bajo costo.

Es importante construir buenas apps guiadas por un buenas visiones; hacerlas bien y lograr que se vuelvan masivas. No puede ser que la gente sólo babee por productos hechos por lucro.

Necesitamos tecnología para fines cívicos que sea sexy e increíble.

Puedes estar al tanto de las noticias de Bikestorming en Twitter, y puedes también ver sus materiales en PechaKucha.

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Presenting learning modules online: datavines, GIFs, and our tips so far

Zara Rahman - June 20, 2014 in Open Development Toolkit

This week at School of Data we’ve been doing a Curriculum Sprint – getting people together to really block off some time to work on the online learning materials that we have to improve and standardise them.

One comment that I’ve heard a few times about the online modules we currently have is that they’re very text-heavy. So, I did some research into other ways of putting learning materials online; for example, via slide decks – like Michael’s course on Extracting information from PDFs.

But, sometimes (especially when following step-by-step instructions) it helps to be able to see them all at once on a screen, so that you can see where you went wrong, or figure out where you’re going, rather than having to scroll backwards and forwards through slides.

I found a couple of good examples from Guardian Data of #datavines, which they used to illustrate GCSE results from 2013, like this one:

I like the idea of having vines focused on just one figure or fact, and I was very happy to find this tutorial from Twitter, on “How to tell a numbers driven story in six seconds” (incidentally, written by Simon Rogers who used to be at Guardian Data). He includes three key tips at the end of this blogpost there:

Our three tips when making data-driven Vine videos: Keep it simple: one big number is enough for each one Make the idea behind the video memorable – but don’t over-complicate it. Does it support the story? Remember Vine’s unique ability to loop – people will watch this again and again so try to create something that circles seamlessly

In addition to these tips, and the other advice in Simon’s blog post, here are some addition things I’ve learned from my very basic attempts at making data vines. Bear in mind the materials I’ve used have been the ever so rudimentary collection of paper, post it notes and pens!

  • Don’t change shot too often — personally, I find using one sheet of paper as a background to be the easiest to follow
  • Leave enough time for people to read and take in what is in that particular frame before changing
  • Don’t try and convey too much information – six seconds isn’t very much!
  • Vine’s ‘ghost tool’ is amazing. I tried using a different app to start with (Loopc.am) as Vine was having some issues on my phone, but thanks to the ‘ghost tool’ as well as the other editing features, I’m a big convert.

Here are the vines which I made: one for World Refugee Day, and another one (using Loopc.am) which tries to break down what we mean by ‘aid’.

One thing I found especially tricky in this one was the timing- I wanted to get exactly 4 seconds, or at least evenly spaced frames, but it was tricky without being able to see how far through (in seconds) I was through the total Vine length.

As my colleague Mariel accurately pointed out – the idea is not to substitute but rather duplicate for guaranteed learning. There’s no way that a looped video could properly replace chunks of text in terms of learning materials, but I hope that adding some more animations like this might make the modules easier to follow, or more interesting.

** Are there other ways of presenting learning materials online that we should be thinking about?*

Screencasts have been suggested, or including more pictures and illustrations in amongst the text. In a way, I like the clearly ‘human’ aspect of the vines, especially when they are handwritten, as well as the fact that they are very easy to begin making (at least, at my very basic level!) I’d love to know whether they add anything to the content from an audience perspective though – what do you think?

Leave your thoughts/ideas/suggestions/links in the comments below, or tweet them to @SchoolofData or @zararah.

Thank you!

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Join us! Explore Copenhagen’s bicycle paths using data

Michael Bauer - June 19, 2014 in Data Expeditions

Do you ride a bicycle or know someone who does? If you live in Copenhagen, your answer to this question is probably a resounding “yes”.
Known as the most bike friendly city in the world, more people in greater Copenhagen commute by bicycle than everyone who rides bikes to work IN THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES.
There are many more interesting and surprising stories waiting to be discovered in the comprehensive cycling statistics that Denmark collects every day.

Riding a Bike

Help us unlock those stories – join our data expedition as part of the Kopenlab citizen science festival!
You will explore different aspects of cycling data in a small team and learn from each other as well as our guide in how best to create interesting and compelling stories using data.
No experience needed – just curiosity and a sense of adventure! Plus, you’ll have a guide to help you every step of the way.

Monday June 23rd
13:00 to 16:00
Thorvald Bindesbølls Plads.

Join the team by registering for free here. Everyone is welcome!

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WhatDoTheyKnow Team Urge Caution When Using Excel to Depersonalise Data

Heather Leson - June 17, 2014 in Community, Data Cleaning, HowTo, Spreadsheets

[Guest Cross-post: from Myfanway Nixon of mySociety. You can learn more about her on her blog. The original post can be found here. Thanks for sharing!]

mySociety’s Freedom of Information website WhatDoTheyKnow is used to make around 15 to 20% of FOI requests to central government departments and in total over 160,000 FOI requests have been made via the site. wdtklogo

Occasionally, in a very small fraction of cases, public bodies accidentally release information in response to a FOI request which they intended to withhold. This has been happening for some time and there have been various ways in which public bodies have made errors. We have recently, though, come across a type of mistake public bodies have been making which we find particularly concerning as it has been leading to large accidental releases of personal information.

What we believe happens is that when officers within public bodies attempt to prepare information for release using Microsoft Excel, they import personally identifiable information and an attempt is made to summarise it in anonymous form, often using pivot tables or charts.

What those working in public bodies have been failing to appreciate is that while they may have hidden the original source data from their view, once they have produced a summary it is often still present in the Excel workbook and can easily be accessed. When pivot tables are used, a cached copy of the data will remain, even when the source data appears to have been deleted from the workbook.

When we say the information can easily be accessed, we don’t mean by a computing genius but that it can be accessed by a regular user of Excel.

We have seen a variety of public bodies, including councils, the police, and parts of the NHS, accidentally release personal information in this way. While the problem is clearly the responsibility of the public bodies, it does concern us because some of the material ends up on our website (it often ends up on public bodies’ own FOI disclosure logs too).

We strive to run the WhatDoTheyKnow.com website in a responsible manner and promptly take down inappropriately released personal information from our website when our attention is drawn to it. There’s a button on every request thread for reporting it to the site’s administrators.

As well as publishing this blog post in an effort to alert public bodies to the problem, and encourage them to tighten up their procedures, we’ve previously drawn attention to the issue of data in “hidden” tabs on Excel spreadsheets in our statement following an accidental release by Islington council; one of our volunteers has raised the issue at a training event for police FOI officers, and we’ve also been in direct contact with the Information Commissioner’s office both in relation to specific cases, and trying to help them understand the extent of the problem more generally.


Some of our suggestions:

  • Don’t release Excel pivot tables created from spreadsheets containing personal information, as the source data is likely to be still present in the Excel file.
  • Ensure those within an organisation who are responsible for anonymising data for release have the technical competence to fulfil their roles.
  • Check the file sizes. If a file is a lot bigger than it ought to be, it could be that there are thousands of rows of data still present in it that you don’t want to release.
  • Consider preparing information in a plain text format, eg. CSV, so you can review the contents of the file before release.

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From Storymaps to Notebooks

Tony Hirst - June 16, 2014 in HowTo, narrative, Storytelling

Construct your story: What is a storymap and how can we use technical tools to build narratives?

Storymaps can be used to visualize a linear explanation of the connections and relations between a set of geotemporarly distributed events.

In my recent presentation, I explore these topics. The talk was given at Digital Pedagogy: transforming the interface between research and learning?, hosted by KCL on behalf of the Hestia Project.

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