Ye Butcher, Ye Baker, Ye Candlestick-Maker (1908)

Adam Green - September 19, 2018 in profession, woodcuts, work

In the style of an 18th-century ballad chapbook, a comic look at various professions and there roles both old and new.

The next target user group for the open data movement is governments

Johnny West - September 18, 2018 in Open Data, Open Government Data

Here’s an open data story that might sound a bit counterintuitive. Last month a multinational company was negotiating with an African government to buy an asset. The company, which already owned some of the asset but wanted to increase its stake, said the extra part was worth $6 million. The government’s advisers said it was worth at least three times that. The company disputed that. The two sides met for two days and traded arguments, sometimes with raised voices, but the meeting broke up inconclusively. A week later, half way round the world, the company’s headquarters issued a new investor presentation. Like all publicly listed companies, its release was filed with the appropriate stock market regulator, and sent out by email newsletter. Where a government adviser picked it up. In it, the company  advertised to investors how it had increased the value of its asset – the asset discussed in Africa – by four times in 18 months, and gave a valuation of the asset now. Their own valuation, it turned out, was indeed roughly three times the $6 million the company had told the government it was worth. Probably, the negotiators were not in touch with the investor relations people. But the end result was that the company had blown its negotiating position because, in effect, as a whole institution, it didn’t think a small African government could understand disclosure practise on an international stock market, subscribe to newsletters, or read their website. The moral of the story is: we need to expand the way we think about governments and open data. In the existing paradigm, governments are seen as the targets of advocacy campaigns, to release data they hold for public good, and enact legislation which binds themselves, and others, to release. Civil society tries hunts for internal champions within government, international initiatives (EITI, OGP etc) seek to bind governments in to emergent best practise, and investigative journalists and whistleblowers highlight the need for better information by dramatic cases of all the stuff that goes wrong and is covered up. And all of that is as it should be. But what we see regularly in our work at OpenOil is that there is also huge potential to engage government – at all levels – as users of open data. Officials in senior positions are sitting day after day, month after month, trying to make difficult decisions, under the false impression that they have little or no data. Often they don’t have clear understanding and access to data produced by other parts of their own government, and they are unaware of the host of broader datasets and systems. Initiatives like EITI which were founded to serve the public interest in data around natural resources have found a new and receptive audience in various government departments seeking to get a joined up view of their own data. And imagine if governments were regular and systematic users of open data and knowledge systems, how it might affect their interaction with advocacy campaigns. Suddenly, this would not be a one way street – governments would be getting something out of open data, not just responding to what, from their perspective, often seems like the incessant demands of activists. It could become more of a mutual backscratching dynamic. There is a paradox at the heart of much government thinking about information. In institutions with secretive cultures, there can be a weird ellipsis of the mind in which information which is secret must be important, and information which is open must be, by definition, worthless. Working on commercial analysis of assets managed by governments, we often find senior officials who believe they can’t make any progress because their commercial partners, the multinationals, hold all the data and don’t release it. While it is true that there is a stark asymmetry of information, we have half a dozen cases where the questions the government needed to answer could be addressed by data downloadable from the Internet. You have to know where to look of course. But it’s not rocket science. In one case, a finance ministry official had all the government’s “secret” data sitting on his laptop but we decided to go ahead and model a major mining project using public statements by the company anyway because the permissions needed from multiple departments to show the data to anyone else, let alone incorporate them in a model which might be published, would take months or years. Of course reliance on open data is likely to leave gaps and involves careful questions of interpretation. But our experience is that these have never been “deal breakers” – we have never had to abandon an analytical project because we couldn’t achieve good enough results with public data. Because the test of any analytical project is not “is it perfect?” but “does it take us on from where we are now, and can we comfortably state what we think the margins of error are?”. The potential is not confined to the Global South. Government at all levels and in all parts of the world could benefit greatly from more strategic use of open data. And it is in the interest of the open data movement to help them.

The Kitchen of Tomorrow is: Open

nikki - September 17, 2018 in food

Once again hackers, designers and food scientists got together to hack for a better food system: with less waste, easier choices and more climate awareness.           Let’s collaborate to make our kitchens more convenient & sustainable This was the main aspiration at the “Open Food Data x Smart Kitchen” Hackdays organised by V-Zug and Opendata.ch at Zugorama in Zug last weekend. A diverse pool of experts were invited to develop new prototypes with open resources (such as recipe datasets and oven APIs) and relevant challenges. This cross-sectoral event was enabled in partnership with SIX Payment Services, Nestlé, the city of Zug, Hochschule Luzern, GateB and Milani. Beat Sidler from V-Zug believes that collaboration and openness will take on a more relevant role in the future:
“The future of cooking won’t be invented by us alone, ideas and contributions need to come from everywhere. It was inspirational to see participants develop the kitchen of their dreams based on our recipe data and accessible ovens.”

Thomas Buerki, co-founder of the startup DigiMeals, agrees:
“Our Open Recipe API was used for various projects during the Hackdays. Participants created really exciting solutions to address challenges in the food space and provided us with invaluable input for the development and improvement of our API and the data behind it.”
Solving food waste & climate change in 48 hours As always, it was astonishing to see how many projects come to life over a weekend with motivated people, open resources and a hard deadline! Andrew, a Master student in Environmental Economics from the UK, agrees:
“I met an incredible bunch of engineers and designers who were able to produce tangible products within a seemingly impossible timeframe. Every single team was working until the last seconds of the allotted time.”
The goal to fight food waste and enable a more sustainable food system was prevalent for many teams, as the following examples of projects developed at the Hackdays illustrate:
  • Forgetting food in the fridge is a common cause of foodwaste. BEAT reminds you before your food expires and provides you with recipe-recommendations based on your inventory. Beat the Foodwaste!
  • With Food Matters ingredients left-overs from recipes will be a problem of the past: the app allows you to easily figure out a cooking plan over a specific time frame that uses all the ingredients you bought.
  • EatInDer is an app for all the Eaters tired of searching for the right meal and restaurant. Get a search boost if you specialise in a certain category, understand demand – and get to the right place and time without the costs of market research.
2 winners will get closer to your kitchen To make sure that the feast isn’t over after the weekend, Opendata.ch, V-Zug and SIX selected two winners that they will incubate over the next six months.   Food Matters was selected by the jury to receive a 6 months incubation with coaching, networking and financing. As a second winner, BEAT will get consultation and support through incubation workshops. If they continue developing their project as fast as last weekend, they will soon help us master our food and waste.             Newsletter: If you want to stay informed about the projects and our open food data activities, you can sign up for the Open Food Data newsletter. Link to the open food data program: https://food.opendata.ch/#hackdays  

OParl 1.1: Neue Version des Standards – und viel Aktivität

Ernesto Ruge - September 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

Vor zwei Jahren haben wir mit der offenen Schnittstelle OParl 1.0 den ersten großen Schritt zur Transparenz kommunaler Beschlüsse gemacht. Seitdem ist viel passiert:
  • Die vier größten Ratsinformationssystem-Hersteller haben ein OParl-Modul für ihre Software entwickelt, sodass Kommunen OParl ganz einfach in ihre bestehende Software integrieren können.
  • Ca. 30 Kommunen haben eine offizielle OParl-Schnittstelle, in etlichen weiteren Kommunen ist das OParl-Modul zur Zeit in Einrichtung. Zuletzt dazugekommen sind Aachen und der Kreis Viersen.
  • Die Daten von 30 weiteren Kommunen wurden nach OParl-Standard aufbereitet.
  • Zwei Förderprojekte haben dafür gesorgt, dass für OParl eine Vielzahl von bürgerfreundlicher Open-Source Software entstanden ist.
  • Die Weiterentwicklung ist im vollen Gange: z.B. werden zur Zeit im OK Lab Köln neue Bedienungskonzepte für Ratsinformationssysteme entwickelt.
  • In NRW haben Vertreter von OKFN und dem kdvz einen Arbeitskreis im Rahmen der Open Government Strategieentwicklung des Landes NRW gegründet, welcher OParl auch auf politischer Ebene landes- und später bundesweit verbreiten will. Kontakt: Karl-Matthias Pick.
Die intensive Beschäftigung mit den real vorliegenden Daten führte zu verschiedenen Verbesserungsvorschlägen, welche das OParl-Team gesammelt und in den Standard eingearbeitet hat. Herausgekommen ist die neue OParl-Version 1.1, welche bereits im OParl Mirror, einem Spiegel aller OParl-Daten, umgesetzt wurde.

OParl 1.1: die neue Version des Ratsinformationssystem-Datenstandards

Das wichtigste Feature von OParl 1.1 ist ein neuer, verbesserter Update-Mechanismus, welcher partielle Updates von Datenbeständen erheblich ressourcenschonender macht. Der in OParl 1.0 definierte Mechanismus erwies sich in der Praxis als schlecht durchführbar, so dass mit 1.1 in Zusammenarbeit mit den Herstellern ein neuer, praxisnaher Mechanismus geschaffen wurde. In der Praxis bedeutet dies nun für alle Objekte Listen, welche als Attribut von Body bereitgestellt werden. Außerdem wurden zahlreiche kleine Fehler und Kleinigkeiten hinzugefügt. Sei es SHA512 statt SHA1 für die Datei-Hashes, seien es Rückreferenzen, die zur Vollständigkeit dazugehörten, sei es die Definition eines Fehlerobjektes zur Ausnahmebehandlung: an verschiedenen Stellen wurden aus den Praxisanforderungen heraus Fehler behoben und neue Attribute geschaffen. OParl 1.1 ist dabei nach Semver-Regeln kompatibel zu OParl 1.0, sodass bestehende OParl 1.0-Server ebenso wie OParl 1.0-Clients problemlos weitergenutzt werden können. Nichtsdestotrotz lohnt sich natürlich das Update, weil die Features aus der praktischen Arbeit mit den Daten entstandene Bedürfnisse abdecken und Probleme lösen.

Die Zukunft: erst einmal mehr Daten!

Zwei große Themen wurden bislang in OParl nicht behandelt: die Vereinheitlichung von Begriffen und die Definition einer flexiblen Suche. Beide Themen sind nun Ziel von OParl 2.0, sind aber hochkomplex, da es im deutschsprachigen Raum eine große Vielfalt von kommunalpolitischen Mechanismen gibt. Daher ist OParl 2.0 ein eher mittel- bis langfristiges Ziel, während OParl 1.1 auf längere Zeit die in Kommunen existierenden Daten abdecken wird. Um überhaupt einen Überblick über die kommunalpolitische Landschaft im deutschsprachigen Raum zu bekommen, wäre es daher um so wichtiger, dass möglichst viele Kommunen ihre Beschlüsse via OParl anbieten. Außerdem wird jeder neue OParl-Endpunkt kostenlos in den OParl Mirror und auf Politik bei uns aufgenommen, so dass Bürgerinnen und Bürger eine intuitivere Oberfläche für ihre Stadt bekommen. Um als Kommune OParl zu unterstützen, wenden Sie sich bitte an den Hersteller Ihres Ratsinformationssystems. Auch Bürgerinnen und Bürger können dies anregen. Weitere Informationen wie z.B. eine Vorlage für den Rat haben wir auf Politik bei uns gesammelt. Und vergessen Sie nicht, uns den neuen Endpunkt mitzuteilen, damit Ihre Daten auch verwendet werden können!

Hamonshu: A Japanese Book of Wave and Ripple Designs (1903)

Adam Green - September 16, 2018 in best of books, best of design, best of illustration, design, japan, japanese, ocean, ripples, sea, water, waves

Hamonshū v. 1, by Mori Yūzan; Yamada Geisōdō, Kyōto-shi, Meiji 36 [1903] Hamonshū v. 2, by Mori Yūzan; Yamada Geisōdō, Kyōto-shi, Meiji 36 [1903] Hamonshū v. 3, by Mori Yūzan; Yamada Geisōdō, Kyōto-shi, Meiji 36 [1903] The three volumes above bring together a wonderful selection of wave and ripple designs produced by the Japanese artist […]

Hamonshu: A Japanese Book of Wave and Ripple Designs (1903)

Adam Green - September 16, 2018 in best of books, best of design, best of illustration, design, japan, japanese, ocean, ripples, sea, water, waves

Hamonshū v. 1, by Mori Yūzan; Yamada Geisōdō, Kyōto-shi, Meiji 36 [1903] Hamonshū v. 2, by Mori Yūzan; Yamada Geisōdō, Kyōto-shi, Meiji 36 [1903] Hamonshū v. 3, by Mori Yūzan; Yamada Geisōdō, Kyōto-shi, Meiji 36 [1903] The three volumes above bring together a wonderful selection of wave and ripple designs produced by the Japanese artist […]

Eidgenössische Finanzkontrolle für mehr Verbindlichkeit bei Open Government Data

nikki - September 13, 2018 in National

Die Eidgenössische Finanzkontrolle (EFK), das oberste Finanzaufsichtsorgan des Bundes, hat heute ihren Bericht zur Umsetzung von der nationalen Open Government Data Strategie veröffentlicht. Der Bericht ist, wie Opendata.ch auch, gleichzeitig kritisch und verhalten optimistisch. Das Fazit ist einfach: die Strategie wäre eigentlich verbindlich — aber eben nur eigentlich. Opendata.ch sieht die im Verlauf der OGD-Strategie 2014-2018 regelmässig durch uns als Community Vertreter vorgebrachten Anliegen durch die Analyse, Empfehlungen und Stellungnahmen im Prüfbericht der EFK bestätigt. Wir fordern für die kommende Phase ebenfalls eine verbindliche Ausstattung mit Ressourcen, das heisst insbesondere Stellen und finanzielle Mittel sowohl (1.) auf Ebene des federführenden Amtes —sofern der Bundesrat eine Federführung künftig einem Amt übertragen sollte— als auch (2.) auf Ebene des GS-EDI. Es braucht weiterhin grosse operative Anstrengungen, aber noch mehr Führung auf strategischer Ebene. Wir fordern, dass der Bund in Sachen Open Data verstärkt, offen und auf Augenhöhe mit Gemeinden und Kantonen zusammenarbeitet, ebenso wie mit der Zivilgesellschaft und der Wirtschaft. Gemeinsam muss an einer Open Data Kultur gearbeitet werden, und Opendata.ch bietet seit langem Hand dafür. Wir setzen darauf, dass diese ergriffen wird, denn um die Ziele der aktuellen wie auch der künftigen OGD-Strategie zu erreichen, braucht es eine Schweizer Open Data Community, die alle relevanten Player zusammenbringt. Wir laden die künftig mandatierten Organisationen und Schlüsselpersonen auf Ebene Bund hiermit entsprechend ein, mit Opendata.ch noch 2018 hierzu Kontakt aufzunehmen. Für Opendata.ch:
Andreas Amsler, Vorstandsmitglied Opendata.ch
Hannes Gassert, Vorstandsmitglied, Opendata.ch

Eric, Count Stenbock: A Catch Of A Ghost

Adam Green - September 12, 2018 in Books, count stenbock, decadence, decadent movement, eric stenbock, estonia, estonian writers, Featured Articles, gay writers, Literature, occult, occultism, oscar wilde, poetry, w. b. yeats

With his extravagant dress, entourage of exotic pets, and morbid fascinations, Count Stenbock is considered one of the greatest exemplars of the Decadent movement. David Tibet on the enigmatic writer’s short and curious life.

The Tragedy of the Seas (1841)

Adam Green - September 11, 2018 in accidents, disaster, ocean, sea, shipwreck, water

Colourful compendium of 37 nautical catastrophes that took place in bodies of water around the world between 1803 and 1840.

The Tragedy of the Seas (1841)

Adam Green - September 11, 2018 in accidents, disaster, ocean, sea, shipwreck, water

Colourful compendium of 37 nautical catastrophes that took place in bodies of water around the world between 1803 and 1840.