Is this blog useful?

This blog was intended as a helpful resource. Is that the case, or is it just another well-meaning but unnecessary piece of online clutter?

I was intending to highlight Leicestershire’s 2008 Place Survey results in my examples of local authorities using open data well, but I don’t really know if it is one. Certainly it’s an interesting and useful tool, and the underlying data is publicly available; however, the data itself is not that easy to access (as the page listing the datasets explains) and I’m not qualified to judge how reusable it is. So I’m not including it as an example, because I’m keen not to lose focus.

My premise for this blog (in its current form at any rate) was to champion the release of public data at a local level while also challenging it constructively, from the view that it will only be a force for good if it is executed critically and intelligently. Both of those things are being done elsewhere much better than I can do them: data.gov.uk tries hard to promote the notion of open local data, as do a number of blogs, and plenty of activists, journalists, academics and commentators are busy talking about it.

Is that enough? Could this blog – independent from government and run by someone with no academic, professional or technical expertise in the subject – be a useful resourse? Or is it just adding to the noise, regardless of how focussed it remains?

There is also a conversation happening about the place of the voluntary sector in the realm of publicly available and open data, and the relationship between it and the public sector. Should that happen here, or are the two different enough that to do so would undermine the original purpose of encouraging public sector workers to embrace open, public data? And is even that necessary anymore?

Should I call it a day, or does this blog have a future?

Answers on a postcard. Or in the comments below.

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

9 thoughts on “Is this blog useful?

  1. I certainly think this blog is useful.

    As a relative newcomer to Open Data and transparency, it can be quite hard to navigate the way around all the fascinating blogposts, publications and thoughts that people who have been thinking about this stuff for a long time have written. As such, this blog, by starting with the first principles and going from there, has been very beneficial to me, for example, in navigating my way around.

    I’m broadly involved in the debate around Open Data and the third sector (the link above kindly goes to my website). I think the Voluntary Sector Datastore is doing a nice job of highlighting Open Data as it applies to VCS, but I don’t see any reason why debates/posts should be restricted by sector. The overlaps – both current and future – between Open Data in the public and voluntary sectors are such that having a few sites engage with it can only be beneficial!

      • I don’t think there is a standard – my feeling is we’re still at the stage of understanding the agenda and engaging with it, and getting the data out there!

        Others are much better placed than me to know about this – probably @karlwilding or @kaneder.

        • First things first – the blog is really useful. I’ve only recently discovered it and I’ve certainly learnt a lot from it. I think a focus on examples and the challenges of implementation is right, and you seem to moved into that sort of area recently.

          On the standards for VCS data, not quite sure what you mean here? Probably the biggest group of data that the VCS needs to think about long term is data on the impact that organisation’s have – this is Martin Brookes’ and New Philanthropy Capital’s argument for open data. Perhaps we need to think about guidance and standards for publishing this sort of impact data?

  2. Yes I think it is useful, you’re communicating the issues very clearly. You recognise that you can only provide a part of the conversation, but I’ve found a few useful things here for the first time so I hope you can continue to provide challenges and guidance to people new to it all.

  3. Yes, this blog is definitely useful. You write about difficult concepts in a clear and engaging way.

    What I like are the practical issues about learning technical topics, which you address in lay language. You’re providing a good bridge between those introducing public data concepts and those further on who are pushing developments in (for me, difficult to understand) linked data.

    Keep on keeping on.

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