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Ten Cool Things I Learned at DataJConf

- August 18, 2017 in Events, Fellowship

This article was cross-posted from its original location at the Open and Shut blog

I had a fantastic time at the European Computational and Data Journalism Conference in Dublin on 6-7 July in the company of many like-minded data journalists, academics, and open data practitioners. There were a lot of stimulating ideas shared during the presentations on the first day, the unconference on the second day, and the many casual conversations in between!

In this post I’d like to share the ten ideas that stuck with me the most (it was tough to whittle it down to just ten!). Hopefully you’ll find these thoughts interesting, and hopefully they’ll spark some worthwhile discussions about data journalism and storytelling.

I’d really love to hear what you have to say about all of this, so please do share any thoughts or observations that you might have below the line!

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The European Data and Computational Journalism Conference, Dublin, 6-7 July 2017

  1. ‘Deeper’ data journalism is making a real impact

Marianne Bouchart – manager of the Data Journalism Awards – gave a presentation introducing some of the most exciting award winners of 2017, and talked about some of the most important new trends in data journalism today. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the electoral rollercoasters of the past year, a lot of great data journalism has been centred around electioneering and other political dramas.

Marianne said that “impact” was the theme that ran through the best pieces produced last year, and she really stressed the central role that investigative journalism needs to play in producing strong data-driven stories. She said that impactful investigative journalism is increasingly merging with data journalism, as we saw in projects shedding light on shady anti-transparency moves by Brazilian politicians, investigating the asset-hoarding of Serbian politicians, and exposing irresponsible police handling of sexual assault cases in Canada.

  1. Machine learning could bring a revolution in data journalism

Two academics presented on the latest approaches to computational journalism – journalism that applies machine learning techniques to dig into a story.

Marcel Broersma from the University of Groningen presented on an automated analysis of politicians’ use of social media. The algorithm analysed 80,000 tweets from Dutch, British and Belgian politicians to identify patterns of what he called the ‘triangle of political communication’ between politicians, journalists, and citizens.

The project wasn’t without its difficulties, though – algorithmically detecting sarcasm still remained a challenge, and the limited demographics of Twitter users meant that this kind of research could only look at how narrow certain segments of society communicated.

Jennifer Stark from the University of Maryland looked at the possibilities for algorithms to be biased – specifically looking at Google Image Search’s representations of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s photos during their campaigns. Through the use of an image recognition API that detects emotions, she found that Clinton’s pictures were biased towards showing her appear happier whereas for Trump, both happiness and anger were overrepresented.

Although it’s still early days for computational journalism, talks like these hinted at exciting new data journalism methods to come!

  1. There are loads of ways to learn new skills!

The conference was held at the beautiful University College Dublin, where a brand new master’s program in data journalism is being launched this year. We also heard from one of the conference organisers, Martin Chorley, about Cardiff University’s Master’s in Computational and Data Journalism, which has been going strong for three years, and has had a great track record of placing students into employment.

But formal education isn’t the only way to get those cutting edge data journo skills! One of the conference organisers also presented the results of a worldwide survey of data journalists, taking in responses from 180 data journalists across 44 countries. One of the study’ most notable findings was that only half of respondents had formal training in data journalism – the rest picked up the necessary skills all by themselves. Also, when asked how they wanted to further their skills, more respondents said they wanted to brush up on their skills in short courses rather than going back to school full-time.

  1. Want good government data? Be smart (and be charming)!

One of the most fascinating parts of the conference for me was learning about the different ways data journalists obtained data for their projects.

Kathryn Tourney from The Detail in Northern Ireland found Freedom of Information requests useful, but with the caveat that you really needed to know the precise structure of the data you are requesting in order to get the best data. Kathryn would conduct prior research on the exact schemas of government databases and work to get hold of the forms that the government used to collect the data she wanted before making the actual FOI requests. This ensured that there was no ambiguity about what she’d receive on the other side!

Conor Ryan from Ireland’s RTÉ found that he didn’t need to make FOI requests to do deep investigative work, because there was already a lot of government data “available” to the public. The catch was that this data was often buried behind paywalls and multiple layers of bureaucracy.

Conor stressed the importance of ensuring that any data sources RTÉ managed to wrangle were also made available in a more accessible way for future users. One example related to accessing building registry data in Ireland, where originally a €5 fee existed for every request made. Conor and his team pointed out this obstacle to the authorities and persuaded them to change the rules so that the data would be available in bulk in the future.

Lastly, during the unconference one story from Bulgaria really resonated with my own experiences trying to get a hold of data from governments in closed societies. A group of techies offered the Bulgarian government help with an array of technical issues, and by building relationships with staff on the ground – as well as getting the buy-in of political decision makers – they were able to get their hands on a great deal of data that would have forever remained inaccessible if they’d gone through the ‘standard’ channels for accessing public information.

  1. The ethics of data sharing are tricky

The best moments at these conferences are the ones that make you go: “Hmm… I never thought about it that way before!”. During Conor Ryan’s presentation, he really emphasized the need for data journalists to consider the ethics of sharing the data that they have gathered or analysed.

He pointed out that there’s a big difference between analysing data internally and reporting on a selected set of verifiable results, and publishing the entire dataset from your analysis publicly. In the latter case, every single row of data becomes a potential defamation suit waiting to happen. This is especially true when the dataset involved is disaggregated down the level of individuals!

  1. Collaboration is everything

Being a open data practitioner means that my dream scenarios are collaborations on data-driven projects between techies, journalists and civil society groups. So it was really inspiring to hear Megan Lucero talk about how The Bureau Local (at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism) has built up a community of civic techies, local journalists, and civil society groups across the UK.

Even though The Bureau Local was only set up a few months ago, they quickly galvanized this community around the 2017 UK general elections, and launched four different collaborative investigative data journalism projects. One example is their piece on targeted ads during the election campaign, where they collaborated with the civic tech group Who Targets Me to collect and analyse data about the kinds of political ads targeting social media users.

I’d love to see more experiments like The Bureau Local emerging in other countries as well! In fact, one of the main purposes of Open and Shut is precisely to build this kind of community for folks in closed societies who want to collaborate on data-driven investigations. So please get involved!

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Who Targets Me? Is an initiative working to collect and analyse data about the kinds of political ads targeting social media users.

  1. Data journalism needs cash – so where can we find it?

It goes without saying these days that journalism is having a bad time of it at the moment. Advertising and subscription revenues don’t pull in nearly as much cash as the used to. Given that pioneering data-driven investigative journalism takes a lot of time and effort, the question that naturally arises is: “where do we get the money for all this?”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, no-one at DataJConf had any straightforward answers to this question.

A lot of casual conversations in between sessions drifted onto the topic of funding for data journalism, and lots of people seemed worried that innovative work in the field is currently too dependent on funding from foundations. That being said, attendees also shared stories about interesting funding experiments being undertaken around the world, with the Korean Center for Investigative Journalism’s crowdfunding approach gaining some interest.

  1. Has data journalism been failing us?

In the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, a recurring topic in many conversations was about whether data journalism actually had any serious positive impacts. During the unconference discussions, some of us ended up being sucked into the black hole question of “What constitutes proper journalism anyway?”. It wasn’t all despair and navel-gazing, however, and we definitely identified a few concrete things that could be improved.

One related to the need to better represent uncertainty in data journalism. This ties into questions of improving the public’s data literacy, but also of traditional journalism’s tendency to present attention-grabbing leads and conclusions without doing enough to convey complexity and nuance. People kept referencing FiveThirtyEight’s election prediction page, which contained a sophisticated representation of the uncertainty in their modelling, but hid it all below the fold – an editorial decision, it was argued, that lulled readers into thinking that the big number that they saw at the top of the page was the only thing that mattered.

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FiveThirtyEight’s forecast of the 2016 US elections showed a lot of details below the fold about their forecasting model’s uncertainty, but most readers just looked at the big percentages at the top.

Another challenge identified by attendees was that an enormous amount of resources were being deployed to preach to the choir instead of reaching out to a broader base of readers. The unconference participants pointed out that a lot of the sophisticated data journalism stories written in the run-up to the 2016 US elections were geared towards partisan audiences. We agreed that we needed to see more accessible, impactful data stories that were not so mired in party politics, such as ProPublica’s insightful piece on rising US maternal mortality rates.

  1. Data journalism can be incredibly powerful in the Global South

Many of the talks were about data journalism as it was practised in Western countries – with one notable exception. Eva Constantaras, who trains investigative data journalism teams in the Global South, held a wonderful presentation about the impactfulness of data journalism in the developing world. She gave the examples of IndiaSpend in India and The Nation in Kenya, and spoke about how their data-driven stories worked to identify problems that resonated with the public, and explain them in an accessible and impactful way.

Election coverage in these two examples shared by Eva focused on investigating the consequences of the policy proposals of politicians, engaging in fact-checking, and identifying the kinds of problems that were faced by voters in reality.

Without the burden of partisan echo-chambers, and because data journalism is still very new and novel in many parts of the world, data journalism could end up having a huge impact on public debate and storytelling in the Global South. Watch this space!

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Kenya’s The Nation has been producing data-driven stories more and more frequently, such as this piece on Kenya’s Eleventh Elections in August 2017*

  1. Storytelling has to connect on a human level

If there was one recurring theme that I heard throughout the conference about what makes data journalism impactful, it was that the data-driven story has to connect on a human level. Eva had a slide in her talk with a quote from John Steinbeck about what makes a good story:

“If a story is not about the hearer he [or she] will not listen… A great lasting story is about everyone, or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting – only the deeply personal and familiar.”

“I want loads of money” — Councillor Hugh McElvaney caught on hidden camera video from RTÉ

Conor from RTÉ also drove the same point home. After his team’s extensive data-driven investigative work revealed corruption in Irish politics, the actual story that they broke involved a hidden-camera video of an undercover interview with one of these politicians. This video highlighted just one datapoint in a very visceral way, which ultimately resonated more with the audience than any kind of data visualisation could.

I could go on for longer, but that’s probably quite enough for one blog post! Thanks for reading this far, and I hope you managed to gain some nice insights from my experiences at DataJConf. It was a fascinating couple of days, and I’m looking forward to building upon all of these exciting new ideas in the months ahead! If any of these thoughts have got you excited, curious (or maybe even furious) we’d love to hear from you below the line.

Open & Shut is a project from the Small Media team. Small Media are an organisation working to support freedom of information in closed societies, and are behind the portal Iran Open Dat*a.

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Ask Your Questions to Former School of Data Fellows

- March 23, 2017 in Announcement, Events, Fellowship


Do you have questions about what it’s like to be a School of Data Fellow? What will I learn? How can I fit Fellowship work around other commitments like work and family? Will I need to travel a lot?

As part of our call for applications for the 2017 Fellowships and Data Experts, we’re hosting a live, informal Question and Answer session next Monday 27th March at 12.30 UTC with two former fellows :

  • Julio Lopez, a Fellow from the Class of 2015 from Ecuador
  • Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub, also from our Class of 2015, who’s based in the Philippines.

You can read more about both of their backgrounds and interests here.

The Q&A will be live on School of Data’s Youtube channel: link. Look forward to seeing you there!

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First National Open Data Conference in Turkey

- September 6, 2016 in Events


On September 25, The First National Open Data Conference will be held in Antalya. The conference is being organized by the Open Data and Data Journalism Association (Açık Veri ve Veri Gazeteciliği Derneği (AVVG). The conference carries the first conference feature for the development of open data ecosystem.

One-day programs of the conference will be hosted by 5 speakers. Open education, open science, open government, data ethics, the importance of data analysis, data mining for open data, open data for data journalism are the main topics for the National Open Data Conference in Turkey. First National Open Data Conference (l.Ulusal Açık Veri Konferansı (UAVK) to explore how data can also help Citizens to make better decisions and underpin the new economic growth. The conference is limited to only 50 people and if you wish to attend you can apply here.

The Open Data and Data Journalism Association team will also share the infrastructure of the first National Open Data Index. During the conference will also feature the first Turkish small mooc about Data fundamentals. The first open data and data literacy small online courses will be completed on September 10. The courses received over 600 applications and will have trained 400 people all around Turkey.

About Open Data and Data Journalism Association
(Açık Veri ve Veri Gazeteciliği Derneği(AVVG )

From left to right AVVG Board Members: Dersu Ekim Tanca-Kubilay Öztürk-Pınar Dağ-Sadettin Demirel-Merve Kartal-Ecem Boğatemur-Tuğçe Yılmaz /

From left to right AVVG Board Members: Dersu Ekim Tanca-Kubilay Öztürk-Pınar Dağ-Sadettin Demirel-Merve Kartal-Ecem Boğatemur-Tuğçe Yılmaz /

It was established in December 2015 with seven people in Ankara-Turkey and is the first non-profit organization regarding Open Data and Data Journalism in Turkey. It held its first General Assembly on May 7, and after that the association had a total of 40 members. The aim is to promote data literacy in Turkey via workshops, conferences, producing e-books, articles, and long-term projects regarding Open Data & Data Journalism in Turkey. Since 2015 until today, the association has held 14 events about Open Data and Data Journalism Workshop for Local Media and Civil Society and also became a School of Data Member on May 22.

The association has received £25,000 from the Bilateral Program Fund – UK for our first individual project application. AVVG started a 4 month project entitled: ‘Training, Open Data and Data Literacy Project’. It is the First Turkish small mooc about Data fundamentals by way of e-learning. In this regard, AVVG  started to train 400  people through e-learning within 2 months for a period of 10 weeks. The e-learning section is being programmed by the official web portal of AVVG.

The mooc will end on September 10 and it will be the first School of Data Turkey Camp with the best 15 selected projects from participants together with the School of Data Turkey team which will be held in Antalya between September 22-25. The first National Open Data Conference 2016  with open data policy maker has a +50 people attendee limitation in Antalya.

The future plans of the association are; developing fellowship program for journalism students & NGOs, producing more e-books about data literacy in Turkish, developing long-term planned MOOC in Turkish, developing the First National Data Journalism Award Competition Developing FOI reform with policy makers & officials & also to continue to organise National Open Data Conferences 2017, 2018 and developing CSV , Conference 2017 ( Not only format of CSV, it will be about what CSV represents to community: data inter-operability, hackablity, simplicity, etc) . For more information in Turkish:


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Call for a week-long data journalism training in Berlin

- August 18, 2016 in Events, Fellowship

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Photo from a data visualization training in Istanbul, 2014. Author: Nika Aleksejeva

‘Data-driven journalism against prejudices about migration’ training course for young media-makers, human rights activists and developers Berlin, 12 – 20 November 2016

Deadline for receiving applications is: 31st August 2016, 23:59h CET.

School of Data fellow, Nika Aleksejeva, in collaboration with European Youth Press (EYP), an umbrella association of young media-makers in Europe, is inviting young media-makers, designers/developers/programmers and human rights activists to participate in a week-long data journalism training. The training aims to produce impartial, data-driven reports on local migration issues using innovative storytelling forms. It will address the current European refugee crisis, from the perspective of 11 European countries (listed below).

What to expect?

The main objective of the training course is to increase data journalism skills through hands-on training and through working on a real story that will eventually be published in the media. During the project, EYP will partner up with established media organisations from the eleven, listed countries, who will each send one journalist to attend the training. Working together, participants will learn data journalism skills and immediately apply them to practical scenarios. The finished results of their work will be published by media partners of the project. It is hoped that this broad public outreach will lead to significant effect on the media’s treatment of the issue. This course will be an opportunity to strengthen an already-established international network of young media-makers, mid-career journalists and activists concerned with migration and refugee rights.

Participants of the training course will:

  • learn and practice data journalism techniques: finding the right data, scraping, compiling, cleaning, storytelling with data;

  • form teams and work on specific projects, with a view to publication in the national media of participants’ home countries;

  • make professional contacts in the field and obtain hands-on experience of working on a cross-border, data-driven investigation.

Financial Information

This training course is funded by the Erasmus+ grant. Participants will receive reimbursement of their travel costs** up to the amount indicated below, **according to their country of residence:

  • Armenia: 270 EUR

  • Belgium: 170 EUR

  • Czech Republic: 80 EUR

  • Denmark: 80 EUR

  • Germany (outside Berlin): 80 EUR

  • Italy: 170 EUR

  • Latvia: 170 EUR

  • Montenegro: 170 EUR

  • Slovakia: 170 EUR

  • Sweden: 170 EUR

  • Ukraine: 170 EUR

  • participants living in Berlin will not be eligible for reimbursement of any travel expenses.

Although travel costs will be reimbursed, participants are asked to make the travel bookings themselves, as soon as possible after being selected. Participants are also asked to take the most economical route from their place of residence to Berlin and use the following means of the transportation:

  • Train: 2nd class ticket (normal as well as high-speed trains),

  • Flight: economy-class air ticket or cheaper,

  • Bus

Accommodation, meals and all necessary materials will be provided.

Who can apply?

Applicants must fulfil all the criteria below:

  • young media-makers, journalism students, bloggers and citizen journalists with a demonstrated interest in issues related to the rights of ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees; human rights activists working on refugee/migration issues; developers interested in the topic;

  • 18-30 year-olds;

  • residents of Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Armenia, Ukraine, Montenegro, Slovakia, Denmark and Latvia;

  • proficient in English.

How to apply?

Interested candidates are invited to apply by completing this application form. Please also send your CV, in Europass format, and via e-mail, to [email protected] with ‘ddj on migration’ in the subject line.

The deadline for receiving completed applications (form and CV) is: 31st August, 23:59h CET.

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Second #OpenDataParty Comes to Benin City, Nigeria

- December 9, 2015 in Announcement, Events, Fellowship


“– bring your laptops, coffee mugs and power extension cords!”

On December 11th, the second #OpenDataParty kicks off at Benson Idahosa University, Benin City. During two action-packed days, #OpenDataParty will welcome open data enthusiasts united by the desire to make, meet and speak everything open data!

This exciting event is the creation of Nkechi Oduwuone, School of Data’s 2015 Fellow in Nigeria, and Oludotun Babayemi, a School of Data alum. Together with support from The Indigo Trust , Heinrich Boll Foundation Nigeria, and the Edo State Open Data Portal, Sabi Hub, Nkechi has come up with a promising agenda including a Data Expedition Class focusing on environmental and health data and a session focusing on a new platform for NGOs, journalists and citizens to use in tracking environmental expenditures.

This promises to be a fantastic event and an opportunity for the Nigerian open data community to gain new skills, make connections and have a lot of fun. We can’t wait to hear all about it!

There’s still time to register for the event at, which runs from Friday, December 11th to Saturday, December 12th, 2015, 8am to 5pm both days. The full agenda is as follows:


9-9.30am – Registration | Introductory/Welcome Remarks

9.30 – 11am – Data Pipelines?

Open Knowledge Foundation School of Data

11 – 11.30am – Coffee Break/Media Briefing

11.30 – 1.30 – Skill Share [Using Mobile Phones to Ground Truth Data | Data Scraping Tools | Data Analysis Tools [Excel, Google spreadsheets]| Digital Security and Privacy

Reboot | eHealth Africa | School of Data | CODE | Heinrich Boell Foundation

1.30 – 2.30pm – Lunch

2.30 – 3.30pm – Telling Stories with Data [Storytelling mechanisms and tools for Journalists | Using Data for Advocacy for NGOs| Using the FOIA]

Radio One | Premium Times | Follow The Money | Right to Know

3.30 – 4.30pm – Skillshare 2 [Tools to Collect and Find Data | Data Scraping Tools | Data Analysis Tools [Excel, Google spreadsheets]| Digital Security and Privacy

Save the Children | Population Council | ONE.ORG

4.30 – 5.00pm – What have you learnt



Through Follow The Money, how can we collaborate to track expenditures on the Great Green Wall in Nigeria Go? Let’s Find Out! How can we develop a tool to reduce waste in Benin City?

9.00 – 9.30am  What have we learnt?

9.30 – 9.45am What about Following The Great Green Wall Funds?

9.45 – 10.00am What about the Environment Data Sprint?

10 – 10.30am Tea/Coffee Break

10.30 pm – 1.30pm Mapping | Data Sprint [Laptops + Music + Coffee + Drinks]

1.30 – 2.30pm Lunch

2.30 – 3.30pm Rounding Up + Presentation: Mapping | Data Sprint

3.30 – 4.00pm Networking + Vote of Thanks


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The Latin America open data community speaks loud

- October 22, 2015 in Community, Data Stories, Events, Fellowship

Last September the open data community in Latin America gathered in Santiago de Chile in the two most important events in the region to talk and discuss about open data. Since 2013, Abrelatam and ConDatos have been a space to share experiences, lessons learned and discuss issues regarding open data in Latin America.

In this third edition hundreds people from the region came to Chile showing that the open data community has a lot of potential and is continuously growing and involving in the open data movement.

As a fellow of School of Data, this was my first time in Abrelatam and ConDatos and it was a great experience to see, exchange ideas with the community and learn from all the different projects in the region. I had the opportunity to share with journalists, civil society and technology groups that were working on amazing open data initiatives.

Since there was a lot of interest in learning new tools and working specifically with data, there was also a training track in the conference with several workshops about data analysis, data cleaning, data visualization, access to public information, among others. School of Data had three workshops with ex-fellows Antonio Cucho (Perú), Ruben Moya (México) and myself as a current fellow from Costa Rica. The attendants were excited and interested in learning more.


In the past years I’ve been mainly working as a data journalist in Costa Rica, but I had never had the chance to meet the community that shared my same interests and concerns. This is what makes Abrelatam and ConDatos most valuable. It helped me learn about how things and data projects are done in other countries and see how can I improve the work I’m doing in my own country.

We all have similar issues and concerns in the region, so there’s no point in trying to fix things by yourself if you have a huge community willing to help you and share their lessons and mistakes. On the other hand, as a School of Data fellow I was given the opportunity to share my knowledge with others in data workshops, and it was a great way to show people from other countries the work we are doing in School of Data, helping build data literacy in civil society.

The most important lesson learned from this four days in Chile is that there’s an eager movement and a growing need to work together as a region to make data available and to push the open data agenda with governments. There’s no doubt the region speaks loud and is creating a lot of noise worldwide, so it’s in our hands to keep up and innovate as a community!

If you are interested in learning more about the projects, here’s a list of the projects that participated in AbreLatam in 2014 (the 2015 list well be ready soon!).


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Open Data Party Akure – Treading new grounds in Nigeria!

- September 3, 2015 in Events, Fellowship


Cross-Section of participants

Cross-Section of participants

We took the open data party to the Southwest of Nigeria with the goal of building a data literate community in Nigeria. School of Data collaborated with the Nigeria Open data Access (NODA) team of the University of Technology Akure, to host the first open data event in that region.

It was a 7 hours awareness and skill share session. Similarly to our previous event, the participants had little or no knowledge of open data. one of the participant said:

I only just saw the post about the open data party and came out of curiosity to know what it is all about

Their interest was in knowing what open data is and how they can apply it to their work as a business or in advocacy. Some misconceptions had first to be cleared, as some of the participants thought of open data as a tool, a specific project or even a software. So, how do you explain open data to a group of 30 where no one knows exactly what is it?

We split the event into two sessions  : one was about awareness while the other was focused on skillsharing. The awareness session featured talks about open data, its relevance and case studies. We took a practical example of a participant who is currently working on a project to automate course attendance in her school. She said afterwards –

I now have a better perspective and will work towards automating and opening attendance data. Students will be able to access it for monitoring their performance.

We introduced them to our data Pipeline and gave them success stories. For those without projects, we succeeded in spurring them to research their options as they appreciated the leverage they could get using open data.

In the skillsharing session, participants were more interested in learning how to visualize the plenty of rows and columns they had stacked up in folders. Sessions in visualization, storytelling, advocacy and even fund raising for NGOs, were held concurrently.

Participants were really excited to meet new tools like Tableau, CartoDB, E-draw and even Excel. Links to resources that could make their work easier were also highlighted. We were worried about the receptiveness of the participants but were eventually amazed by their engagement and the innovative concepts about data harnessing they came up with for their various fields.

Breakout skill share session.

Breakout skill share session.


Strengthening the community.

Rounding up, we had a Google Student Ambassador from the University of Technology of Akure explain to the participants how to use the Google Drive collaboration tools. They learnt basic –intermediate skills of working with Google docs. So great! We now have a working group in the South-West of Nigeria with the NODA team to continue keeping the community vibrant.

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The School of Data Macedonia website is live!

- June 5, 2015 in Events, Fellowship

Open data is a generator of prosperity and democratization of the society, said the Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Macedonia, Charles Edmund Garrett at the launch event of  the the School of Data – Macedonia website. The event took place at the Journalists Club in Skopje on the 4th of June.

Opening data helps support to civil society organizations, journalists and all citizens interested in the use of data. To build a community around the use of data, a “Network of Civil Society Organizations for Open Data” has been created thanks to a collaboration between the Metamorphosis Foundation and Open Knowledge, with the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“The possibility of civil society to ask for information relevant to public policies and procedures is essential to the rule of democracy,” Garett said.

A two-way street

The British Ambassador emphasized that open data is a “two-way street” – on the one hand governments and institutions increase transparency, and on the other civil society increases their participation in decision making and emphasizes the voices of marginalized groups.

“This project is based on a previous engagement of the UK in this area through the so-called “Open Government Partnership” and I hope that our cooperation will continue and will impact on increasing the government transparency and citizen participation in the review of government activities and the decision making process.

Bardhyl Jashari, the director of the Metamorphosis Foundation, told the audience that access to data is important for both sides, because “it helps citizens to equalize their knowledge with the knowledge that politicians have via the data from state institutions available for them at any given time.”

The event was attended by thirty representatives from civil society organizations, associations, media, and interested individuals. As Donna Djambaski from Metamorphosis Foundation said in an article on the website, interested parties can find courses on basic data knowledge, as well as tools and applications for the use and handling of data.

“If any civil organization needs a certain course / training for a skill, we will find / adapt, or create such a course, and later share it with them,” Djambaski said.

A competition for Macedonian open data projects

Besides the website, a competition to support projects related to open data in Macedonia was announced. The deadline for registration is until June 22, and all civil society organizations can apply with a specific idea for a project linked to open data. After completing the competition four projects will be selected and will receive support from Metamorphosis Foundation to implement them.

More photos from the event are available on this link

The competition to support projects related to open data is available on this link

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What does a School of Data Summer Camp look like?

- June 5, 2015 in Community, Events, Fellowship

On 24, 25 and 26 May, members of the School of Data network came from all around the world to gather in Ottawa for the 2015 Summer Camp. There was a lot of work to do: the new School of Data fellows were tasked with preparing a detailed roadmap of their fellowship while representatives of the member organisations of the School of Data network were asked to work on the future of the project.

This Summer Camp was exceptionally focused and productive which allowed us to achieve a lot in a little time. Participants worked from 9am to 6pm, while coordinators started earlier and finished later.

How we succeeded in making 25 people from 16 countries work together during 3 intense days is still a mystery, but the photos taken during the event help shed some light on the process.

The coordination team

The first ingredient is a great coordination team ready to work 12h a day. Of course, the preparations for the Summer Camp started several months in advance. From left to right : Dirk Slater from Fab Riders (lead facilitator), Zara (top), Milena (bottom), Marco, Cédric.

Group photo

And a group of very motivated participants. The ‘moose’ sign has been a core part of Open Knowledge’s facilitation toolkit for years. And people love it.

Then you need a lot of group discussion. Here, a governance session with Milena as a facilitator and note taker. From the left of the table to the right: Antonio (former fellow, Peru), Cédric (coordinator), Ignasi (Spanish local instance), Bardhyl (School of Data Macedonia), Natalia (Escola de dados), Anna (School of Data Germany), Marco (coordinator), Nisha (former fellow, India), Juan (Social-TIC, Mexico). At the bottom left is Charalampos (School of Data Greece).

A lot of writing in small groups helped participants share their insights without being overwhelmed by the bigger group. Someone from the group then shared back to the larger group. From left to right: Sylvia (Ecole des données, France), Katelyn (coordinator), Natalia (Escola de dados, Brazil).

From left to right: Julio (2015 fellow, Ecuador), Sander (Open Knowledge), Sheena (2015 fellow, Philippines)

The drawing activities of the Summer Camp were the most anticipated event. Thanks to them, participants are able to share more than words ever will. From left to right: Natalia, Marco, Sylvia.

Sharing is a core value of the network, so sharing workshops are a central to the Summer Camp. Antonio (former fellow, Peru), Camila (2015 fellow, Costa Rica), Julio (2015 fellow, Ecuador).

From left to right: Bardhyl (School of Data Macedonia), Ignasi (Escuela de dates Spain), Cédric (coordinator).

Mariel (Social-TIC, Mexico).

And of course, post-its. From left to right: Antonio (former fellow, Peru), Nisha (former fellow, India), Juan (Social-TIC, Mexico).

Lots of them. Here with David (2015 fellow, Ghana), Nkechi (2015 fellow, Nigeria), Anna (School of Data Germany) and Sheena (2015 fellow, Philippines).

Post-its, post-its everywhere.

We do love posts-its. But then you have to digitize every single one. Jennifer (Code 4 South Africa).

The cake was an essential part of the facilitation strategy.

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School of Data coming to Ottawa!

- May 22, 2015 in Events

Photo CC-BY, taken by d.neuman.

Photo CC-BY, taken by d.neuman.

In a couple of days, the School of Data community will be descending upon Ottawa – first, for our annual Summer Camp, and then to join the International Open Data Conference.

Summer Camp will be the chance for our Class of 2015 fellows to meet the rest of our community, with representation from local instances from all around the world. All in all, with only 30 participants at Summer Camp, we’ll have people from over 20 countries represented! Our new fellows will be learning about School of Data and planning the rest of their fellowships, and representatives from our local instances will be coming together to discuss governance of the School of Data network.

On Thursday and Friday, we’ll be at the Open Data Conference where we’ll have a room for the whole of Thursday. If you’ve had any data-related problems with your projects, any questions or tools you’d like to learn – come and talk to us!

We’ll be running a data clinic on Thursday morning, with people at hand to talk you through any data driven projects you might have or questions you might have, and in the afternoon, we’ll run a short data expedition – a way to get hands on with data. No experience is necessary, and we welcome total newcomers to working with data.

If you don’t have a chance to come and meet us on Thursday at the conference, together with the rest of the Open Knowledge community we’ll be having a meet and greet on Thursday evening at The Brig Pub, 23 York St, from 7.30pm. All welcome – just come by on the night. We’ll be there with fellow Open Knowledge staffers, the School of Data community, and open knowledge advocates from around the world!

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