Great to see so many old and new faces at the International Open Data “unconference” yesterday, and such diverse ones, too! Many noted that it was likely the first time they found themselves in the same room with such number of nationalities from all over the world, with Latin America being close to outnumber the Canadian hosts.
I was personally – and probably naively – surprised in realising how most of us shared the same challenges and issues. From my open data practitioner perspective, the UK – two-times, self-proclaimed open data world lead – does not feel that easier than what I got from many of the stories I was privileged to share from other countries. We all fight the same resistance to transparency and change, the politics and censorship of uncomfortable datasets, and – even when you get all of that right – the need to demonstrate a business case for open data in what is still uncharted territory, after all.
If you think that through, and considering the limits to resources and infrastructure or the threats to democracy the Latin American or African friends experience and reminded us of, we really have little to celebrate in the allegedly “developed” world. Having such an advantage, our “lead” feels meaningless, and working on open data in such privileged conditions makes you realise how we should achieve much more than we do. Hats off to all the humble workers that make open data happen for real across the world.
There will be a lot more talking about open data and the (so called) developing countries in the next few days. The actual, polished conference starts tomorrow. I feel, though, like I’ve got my biggest lesson already.