“Somewhere along the way, however, we seem to have forgotten that causing political change is about action” — Carne Ross in his LSE talk. He continues “we have slipped from a discourse, from a commitment, an understanding, that it is action that changes things, we’ve shifted from action to inaction, or to, put it bluntly inaction: campaigning”
After a decade working (lately) as a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, I’m mostly moving on (and South, to Cambridge).
It’s been a pleasure to work on large scale social science Government data (under license, contract and restriction) and research methods projects, but now it’s time for something else.
While it is extremely rare that I talk online about my role there, there a clear parallel between some discussions with Dear and Valued Colleagues, and the positions that Bill, Ben, other Ben and others take on the digital age of open data.
For now, I’ll be taking a couple of months break (I hope), working on some fun things, and we’ll see what’s next.
This is a draft that’s been sitting unpublished for a while, doesn’t really go that far, but is a useful reference for something that might follow.
For the last couple of years, I’ve run a little tumblr called interestingAgain.com which is interesting or any talks/ideas that I’d like to be able to find again and really engage with again. I’m not entirely sure that I would put the entirety of the Do catalogue on the site, but it would all fit.
Do is the physical embodiment of what I was going for with InterestingAgain, and the ability of Team Do to get those speakers to come to the event for free is a real testament to what the Do Lectures actually are.
I remember when I first read the name Julian Assange. A narrative book called Underground had just been released into the web as a text file (2001) Read more…
The irrepressible Carl Malamud recommended to his twitter followers the new Biography of John Moss – People’s Warrior: John Moss and the Fight for Freedom of Information and Consumer Rights. John Moss was the member of Congress who guided the Freedom of Information Act into law in the US (it took a decade). That, and stories of the other causes he took on, makes a really interesting book.
Just Do It is a story of passion, politics and power, and the interactions between the three.
I’ve had the pleasure of minimally advising the lovely people at the Just Do It Film for the last year or so. The product of over 2 years hard work is now visible on a Big Screen Near You
I’m struck by the similarity between people who do the best work, and people who doubt that the work they do is that good.
We don’t have a written constitution, but a tradition and knowledge passed down. With a permanent Civil Service, it is they who are charged with maintaining that, politically neutral, informed service.
The work Puffles has started on twitter to begin join up campaigners with an understanding of the policy process is a start. But it’s a massive job, that needs to be supported from multiple angles.
If you’re based in the US, there’s legal clarity in (almost) all directions. [Carl Malamud][http://public.resource.org] has done fantastic work based on the lack of copyright on US Government work. This is now something that the UK has now made possible with the Open Government Licence.
The new Judgemental.org.uk and the long-running OKFN have been working in areas. But unlike the US, that’s not quite how the UK works. Spotify – possibly apocryphally – launched because the founder went for a pint with the right people who agreed not to shut them down for a while to see what happened and whether they could make it work.
The UK is like that. A dear (partially-)American friend was looking for a good overview of How The UK Works, and didn’t feel she got it until the Queen became involved (as a legal entity, not in the conversation). I’d love to see the writeup of that understanding. I suspect it would fill a number of holes in my assumptions & knowledge of how everything relates to everything else.
But in the absence of that explanation (probably phrased in terms of the Muppet Show), and even when we get it, that’s probably not how it should work.
But as the OGL kicks in, the scope to FoI all the docs for training civil servants (if you’ve ever wondered how thye got that way, you can find out), and then do something interesting with them online becomes greater.
OpenTech now has it’s own blog/podcast feed over at http://blog.opentech.org.uk/
While I’ll probably post one announcement here, If you want to follow OpenTech news, you should follow that blog.