Rufus Pollock intervention in the Open Content, tools and technology panel was different by all means to the rest of the session, not only because he finally couldn’t be in Amsterdam and had to join via Skype, but because the approach and topic were quite different.
He gave a very brief talk and left aside video to focus in data in general, reminding the audience after several presentations about video and open audiovisual content that there’s more to fight for when it comes to the open culture.
He started asking the audience to try to find online information on the public spending of each one’s country in education, health or culture…only to show that the information, allegedly public, was far from being easily accessible. (The answer, at one of his projects: wheredoesmymoneygo.org)
This, beyond being an example to make evident the lack of accessibility to public data, is an example of some of the content that can also be found in other of Rufus’ projects: CKAN (comprehensive knowledge archive network). This project is a key example of the idea Rufus Pollock centered on: the need to create an open data ecosystem. How can we allow the people to plug together data with different tools?
That is what the open knowledge foundation is trying to find out; how to break the barriers between different countries and databases available in a central easily accessible place, or, in other words, how to plug in together all the datasets from different sources?
And once at that point, it’s really important to remember that the information should be not only accessible, but also open (with everything that implies in relation of the use you can make of that data).
But before we get at that point where we have a frame for collaborative work where data can be broken into pieces and then put together again governments and institutions need to be convinced of the advantages of it. Pollock appeals to the crowd’s intelligence, pointing how it’s been previously proven that people coming up with ideas and applications that they could have never thought of.
Rufus Pollock is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, an Associate of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge and a Director of the Open Knowledge Foundation which he co-founded in 2004. He has worked extensively as a scholar and developer on the social, legal and technological issues related to the creation and sharing of knowledge.
You can hear the entire talk here: MP3
Or watch the presentation here.