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Slides for a talk given by Jack Thurston, co-founder of farmsubsidy.org at re:publica 2010 in Berlin.
Farmsubsidy.org is described by WorldChanging.com as “demonstrating the power of geek activism done right”. It is a website that publishes the fruits of a transparency campaign by journalists and researchers who succeeded in lifting the veil of one of the EU’s greatest state secrets: who gets what from the €60 billion spent each year on farm subsidies. The project has brought together freedom of information experts, investigative journalists, academic researchers, NGO campaigners, data analysts and computer programmers. From the very beginning it has been a truly cross-border adventure and one of the first pan-European experiments in civic hacking. Last year saw the launch of a sister project fishsubsidy.org. Along the way the projects have encountered political, legislative and bureaucratic challenges, not to mention the technical challenges of accessing, compiling an enormous quantity of complex data and then making it ‘come to life’ for website users. Some of the challenges have been solved, others are still being worked on.
Jack explains how the projects came about, what made them work, what are the lessons learned and mistakes made, and what are some of the new frontiers in open government.