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Mapping Skillshare with Codrina

- October 10, 2014 in Community, Events, HowTo

Why maps are useful visualization tools? What doesn’t work with maps? Today we hosted a School of Data skillshare with Codrina Ilie, School of data Fellow.

Codrina Ilie shares perspectives on building a map project

What makes a good map? How can perspective, assumptions and even colour change the quality of the map? This is a one-hour video skillshare to learn all about map making from our School of Data fellow:

Learn some basic mapping skills with slides

Codrina prepared these slides with some extensive notes and resources. We hope that it helps you on your map journey.

Hand drawn map


(Note: the hand drawn map was created at School of Data Summer Camp. Photo by Heather Leson CCBY)

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Data Visualization and Design – Skillshare

- September 26, 2014 in Community, Events, HowTo

Observation is 99 % of great design. We were recently joined by School of Data/Code for South Africa Fellow Hannah Williams for a skillshare all about the data visualization and design. We all know dataviz plays a huge part in our School of Data workshops as a fundamental aspect of the data pipeline. But how do you know that, beyond using D3 or the latest dataviz app, you are helping people actually communicate visually?

In this 40 minute video, Hannah shares some tips and best practices:

Design by slides

The world is a design museum – what existing designs achieve similar things? How specifically do they do this? How can this inform your digital storytelling?


Want to learn more? Here are some great resources from Hannah and the network:

Hannah shared some of her other design work. It is great to see how data & design can be used in urban spaces: Project Busart.

We are planning more School of Data Skillshares. In the coming weeks, there will be sessions about impact & evaluation as well as best practices for mapping.

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Video: School of Data Summer Camp

- September 15, 2014 in Community, Events

We’re proud to share a video all about School of Data. In 5 minutes, you will learn about School of Data with introductions to School of Data Network members, Fellows and staff. You will get a window into the spirit of School of Data Summer Camp 2014.

About School of Data Summer Camp

The School of Data Summer Camp brought together local initiatives and School of Data Fellows to build the foundation for a buzzing and productive coming year. Last year we kicked off a Spanish, French, Portuguese and Greek site as well as local initiatives around the world. On a more individual level we’ve been working with fellows worldwide to bring data skills to their communities. With a new round of fellows coming we want to get together and unify our vision, goals and methods. Our goal was to make everyone go home with better skills and a clear vision where we’ll take the School of Data together!

Special thanks goes to our funders who made all of this possible: Partnership for Open Data (World Bank, Open Data Institute, and Open Knowledge), Hewlett Foundation, Open Society Foundations, IndigoTrust, the British Embassy Skopje, Hivos, and SEATTI.

(Video Created by Sam Muirhead of Camera Libre)

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How to: Network Mapping Builds Community

- September 10, 2014 in Community, HowTo

Who is in your network? Who are your stakeholders? Network Mapping can help you plan, grow and sustain your organization. Nisha Thompson of and a School of Data Fellow shares her Network Mapping Skills in this 40 minute video. See the accompanying slides and resources below.

Network Mapping Resources:

Here are some resources provided by Nisha and the team to get you started on your Network Mapping journey:

Network Mapping – Nisha Thompson

We’ll be hosting more School of Data Fellow Skillshares in the coming weeks. See our wiki for more details.

Title image: Social network in a course CC-by Hans Põldoja, on Flickr

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Dispatch: School of Data Summer Camp

- July 29, 2014 in Community, Events

Close your eyes and imagine an inviting space that you can connect, learn and share with new colleagues from around the world. What would that look like? Well, at School of Data we dreamed big to deliver an amazing event in collaboration with so many people. We are still reflecting but would consider it a successful first School of Data Summer Camp.


The School of Data Summer Camp was held on July 18 – 21, 2014 at Villa Adlon in Potsdam, Germany. There we collaborated to build School of Data with all the participants: partners, network leaders, local instances, fellows, senior fellows, funders, special guests and staff. The 4-day event with 47 people focused on individual and community growth with participatory activities in a programme consisting of conversations, documenting, skillshares, brainstorming, networking, and gamestorming.

Here is a small window into the spirit of Summer Camp:

(Video by Social Tic’s Juan Manual Casanueva)

Thank you

The house, lake, gardens and complete environment provided a perfect setting to unite people for School of Data Summer Camp. We would like to extend a very special thanks to our host Mathilda Huss of Villa Adlon. She generously provided the beautiful location.

Special thanks goes to our funders who made all of this possible: Partnership for Open Data (World Bank, Open Data Institute, and Open Knowledge), Hewlett Foundation, Open Society Foundations, IndigoTrust, the British Embassy Skopje, Hivos, and SEATTI.

We are all taking a much needed rest and then will begin to share more about the next steps for School of Data. Thanks again to everyone who made School of Data Summer camp so special.

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Festing with School of Data

- July 8, 2014 in Community, Data Expeditions, Data Stories, Events

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

- 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

- 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

- June 25, 2014 in Community, Data for CSOs, HowTo

[Cross-posted from the TABridge network. Visit 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:

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Interview: Bikestorming

- 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 <a href=”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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