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Open Data & The Rewards of Failure

Presentation given by Chris Taggart at Open Data session at Future Everything conference, Manchester, May 13, 2010. Discusses how open data helps change the incentives from big, slow failures to small, fast failures, from which we can learn

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Open Data
                                    &
                               The Rewards
                                of Failure

Future Everything Conference, Manchester, May 23 2010
Me: Chris Taggart
         @countculture
Me: Chris Taggart
                    @countculture

✤   Developer of OpenlyLocal.com
Me: Chris Taggart
                    @countculture

✤   Developer of OpenlyLocal.com
Me: Chris Taggart
                            @countculture

✤   Developer of OpenlyLocal.com
    ✤   Makes local data (esp govt) available
        in consistent and accessible form
Me: Chris Taggart
                            @countculture

✤   Developer of OpenlyLocal.com
    ✤   Makes local data (esp govt) available
        in consistent and accessible form
    ✤   Scrapes council and govt websites

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Open Data & The Rewards of Failure

  • 1. Open Data & The Rewards of Failure Future Everything Conference, Manchester, May 23 2010
  • 2. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture
  • 3. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com
  • 4. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com
  • 5. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form
  • 6. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites
  • 7. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites
  • 8. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites ✤ All open data
  • 9. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites RDF JSON XML ✤ All open data
  • 10. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites RDF JSON XML ✤ All open data
  • 11. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites RDF JSON XML ✤ All open data ✤ Open Election Data project
  • 12. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites RDF JSON XML ✤ All open data ✤ Open Election Data project
  • 13. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites RDF JSON XML ✤ All open data ✤ Open Election Data project ✤ Helping local authorities publish their election results as open data
  • 14. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites RDF JSON XML ✤ All open data ✤ Open Election Data project ✤ Helping local authorities publish their election results as open data ✤ Tackling the open local data problem, one set at a time & learning lessons on the way
  • 15. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites RDF JSON XML ✤ All open data ✤ Open Election Data project ✤ Helping local authorities publish their election results as open data ✤ Tackling the open local data problem, one set at a time & learning lessons on the way
  • 16. Me: Chris Taggart @countculture ✤ Developer of OpenlyLocal.com ✤ Makes local data (esp govt) available in consistent and accessible form ✤ Scrapes council and govt websites RDF JSON XML ✤ All open data ✤ Open Election Data project ✤ Helping local authorities publish their election results as open data ✤ Tackling the open local data problem, one set at a time & learning lessons on the way ✤ Member of Local Public Data Panel
  • 17. Open data: why do we want it?
  • 18. Open data: why do we want it? ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data
  • 19. Open data: why do we want it? ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data
  • 20. Open data: why do we want it? ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data ✤ Engagement – reducing barriers to getting involved
  • 21. Open data: why do we want it? ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data ✤ Engagement – reducing barriers to getting involved
  • 22. Open data: why do we want it? ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data ✤ Engagement – reducing barriers to getting involved ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power). Much of this data is already available... for a price
  • 23. Open data: why do we want it? ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data ✤ Engagement – reducing barriers to getting involved ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power). Much of this data is already available... for a price
  • 24. Open data: why do we want it? ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data ✤ Engagement – reducing barriers to getting involved ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power). Much of this data is already available... for a price ✤ Efficiency – Endless amount of duplication in all levels of government because they can’t/won’t share data
  • 25. Open data: why do we want it? ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data ✤ Engagement – reducing barriers to getting involved ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power). Much of this data is already available... for a price ✤ Efficiency – Endless amount of duplication in all levels of government because they can’t/won’t share data ✤ but most important of all...
  • 26. Transparency so that we see what’s going on (and understand it too)
  • 27. Transparency so that we see what’s going on (and understand it too)
  • 28. Transparency so that we see what’s going on (and understand it too)
  • 29. Transparency so that we see what’s going on (and understand it too)
  • 30. Transparency so that we see what’s going on (and understand it too)
  • 31. But wait a minute... Lord Mandelson photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bisgovuk/4382508152/
  • 32. But wait a minute... Lord Mandelson photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bisgovuk/4382508152/ To some people and companies these are all reasons for not doing it. From their perspective, it’s all downside
  • 33. But wait a minute... Lord Mandelson photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bisgovuk/4382508152/ To some people and companies these are all reasons for not doing it. From their perspective, it’s all downside
  • 34. But wait a minute... Lord Mandelson photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bisgovuk/4382508152/ To some people and companies these are all reasons for not doing it. From their perspective, it’s all downside
  • 35. But wait a minute... Lord Mandelson photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bisgovuk/4382508152/ To some people and companies these are all reasons for not doing it. From their perspective, it’s all downside
  • 36. Open data: why do we want it? ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data ✤ Engagement – reducing barriers to getting involved ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power). Much of this data is already available... for a price ✤ Efficiency – Endless amount of duplication in all levels of government because they can’t/won’t share data ✤ but most important of all...
  • 37. don’t the Open data: why do we want tit?ve it? o ha y want you ✤ Stupid question: It’s our data ✤ Engagement – reducing barriers to getting involved ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power). Much of this data is already available... for a price ✤ Efficiency – Endless amount of duplication in all levels of government because they can’t/won’t share data ✤ but most important of all...
  • 38. don’t the Open data: why do we want tit?ve it? o ha y want you t; we collected it, ✤ No it’s no It’svourus power Stupid question:t gi es data it’s wha ✤ Engagement – reducing barriers to getting involved ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power). Much of this data is already available... for a price ✤ Efficiency – Endless amount of duplication in all levels of government because they can’t/won’t share data ✤ but most important of all...
  • 39. don’t the Open data: why do we want tit?ve it? o ha y want you t; we collected it, ✤ No it’s no It’svourus power Stupid question:t gi es data it’s wha ✤ Engagement – duces power of to Rereducing barriers olitical/ p getting involvedpublic service elite ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power). Much of this data is already available... for a price ✤ Efficiency – Endless amount of duplication in all levels of government because they can’t/won’t share data ✤ but most important of all...
  • 40. don’t the Open data: why do we want tit?ve it? o ha y want you t; we collected it, ✤ No it’s no It’svourus power Stupid question:t gi es data it’s wha ✤ Engagement – duces power of to Rereducing barriers olitical/ p getting involvedpublic service elite ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power).goes the competitive Bang Much of this data is already available... antage adv for a price ✤ Efficiency – Endless amount of duplication in all levels of government because they can’t/won’t share data ✤ but most important of all...
  • 41. don’t the Open data: why do we want tit?ve it? o ha y want you t; we collected it, ✤ No it’s no It’svourus power Stupid question:t gi es data it’s wha ✤ Engagement – duces power of to Rereducing barriers olitical/ p getting involvedpublic service elite ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power).goes the competitive Bang Much of this data is already available... antage adv for a price ✤ Efficiency – Endless amount of Fewer people = difficult d ecisions, duplication in all levels of government less power, less prestige because they can’t/won’t share data ✤ but most important of all...
  • 42. don’t the Open data: why do we want tit?ve it? o ha y want you t; we collected it, ✤ No it’s no It’svourus power Stupid question:t gi es data it’s wha ✤ Engagement – duces power of to Rereducing barriers olitical/ p getting involvedpublic service elite ✤ Equality of access to information (and thus power).goes the competitive Bang Much of this data is already available... antage adv for a price ✤ Efficiency – Endless amount of Fewer people = difficult d ecisions, duplication in all levels of government less power, less prestige because they can’t/won’t share data ✤ but most important of all... scary
  • 43. Transparency so that we see what’s going on (and understand it too)
  • 44. Transparency an that jus ho what’s going so d see wetseew truly screwed on (and up things are. it too) understand
  • 45. The rewards of failure today
  • 46. The rewards of failure today ✤ Big projects/policy initiatives bring media attention, power & influence (and the key individuals will have moved on by the time its failure is publicly realized)
  • 47. The rewards of failure today ✤ Big projects/policy initiatives bring media attention, power & influence (and the key individuals will have moved on by the time its failure is publicly realized) ✤ Spread the risk by emphasizing process over results, scoping everything out to the nth degree (you get very little benefit from doing good in public service; lots of grief by visibly doing bad)
  • 48. The rewards of failure today ✤ Big projects/policy initiatives bring media attention, power & influence (and the key individuals will have moved on by the time its failure is publicly realized) ✤ Spread the risk by emphasizing process over results, scoping everything out to the nth degree (you get very little benefit from doing good in public service; lots of grief by visibly doing bad) ✤ Don’t do small, quick, innovative projects (it’s too easy to see whether they have succeeded... or failed, and difficult to spread the blame)
  • 49. The rewards of failure today ✤ Big projects/policy initiatives bring media attention, power & influence (and the key individuals will have moved on by the time its failure is publicly realized) ✤ Spread the risk by emphasizing process over results, scoping everything out to the nth degree (you get very little benefit from doing good in public service; lots of grief by visibly doing bad) ✤ Don’t do small, quick, innovative projects (it’s too easy to see whether they have succeeded... or failed, and difficult to spread the blame) ✤ Outsource everything (see ‘process over results’ above. Bonus: ‘commercial confidentiality’ means the facts can kept secret)
  • 50. no better The private sector’s http://www.flickr.com/photos/pingnews/2935021856/
  • 51. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pingnews/2935021856/ The private sector’s no better ✤ Finance industry incentivized to take risks, reap short-term rewards and let others bear the consequences
  • 52. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pingnews/2935021856/ The private sector’s no better ✤ Finance industry incentivized to take risks, reap short-term rewards and let others bear the consequences ✤ Bigger, more opaque and more complex schemes give protection to people & companies (until it all falls apart)
  • 53. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pingnews/2935021856/ The private sector’s no better ✤ Finance industry incentivized to take risks, reap short-term rewards and let others bear the consequences ✤ Bigger, more opaque and more complex schemes give protection to people & companies (until it all falls apart) ✤ Senior executives insulated from shareholders by diverse and diffuse nature of the reporting/ownership system
  • 54. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pingnews/2935021856/ The private sector’s no better ✤ Finance industry incentivized to take risks, reap short-term rewards and let others bear the consequences ✤ Bigger, more opaque and more complex schemes give protection to people & companies (until it all falls apart) ✤ Senior executives insulated from shareholders by diverse and diffuse nature of the reporting/ownership system ✤ People at the top are incentivized to make big changes (because intelligent comparison becomes difficult); people at the bottom incentivized to do as they’re told
  • 55. The rewards of failure done right
  • 56. The rewards of failure done right ✤ The open-source movement has been founded on failure and fixing that failure, with amazing results (and amazing stability)
  • 57. The rewards of failure done right ✤ The open-source movement has been founded on failure and fixing that failure, with amazing results (and amazing stability) ✤ More than that, it’s failure in public. Makes all bugs shallow; all faults visible
  • 58. The rewards of failure done right ✤ The open-source movement has been founded on failure and fixing that failure, with amazing results (and amazing stability) ✤ More than that, it’s failure in public. Makes all bugs shallow; all faults visible ✤ It also allows a meritocracy to develop, incentivizing innovation and quality, encouraging people to do their best work
  • 59. The rewards of failure done right ✤ The open-source movement has been founded on failure and fixing that failure, with amazing results (and amazing stability) ✤ More than that, it’s failure in public. Makes all bugs shallow; all faults visible ✤ It also allows a meritocracy to develop, incentivizing innovation and quality, encouraging people to do their best work ✤ The internet and the web are not only accepting of failure, the inevitability of failure is at the heart
  • 60. How can Open Data help?
  • 61. How can Open Data help? ✤ It helps change the incentives, from Fail Big, Fail Slow to Fail Small, Fail Fast, and Fail Forward (i.e. building on the failure)
  • 62. How can Open Data help? ✤ It helps change the incentives, from Fail Big, Fail Slow to Fail Small, Fail Fast, and Fail Forward (i.e. building on the failure) ✤ It helps surface issues/problems making them less likely to be repeated (learning from other people’s failures)
  • 63. How can Open Data help? ✤ It helps change the incentives, from Fail Big, Fail Slow to Fail Small, Fail Fast, and Fail Forward (i.e. building on the failure) ✤ It helps surface issues/problems making them less likely to be repeated (learning from other people’s failures) ✤ It allows you to stand on the shoulders of giants. Don’t reinvent the wheel – use or improve someone else’s
  • 64. How can Open Data help? ✤ It helps change the incentives, from Fail Big, Fail Slow to Fail Small, Fail Fast, and Fail Forward (i.e. building on the failure) ✤ It helps surface issues/problems making them less likely to be repeated (learning from other people’s failures) ✤ It allows you to stand on the shoulders of giants. Don’t reinvent the wheel – use or improve someone else’s ✤ It increases the quality of data – reuse by other people and combining with other data identifies (and helps solve) quality issues far more quickly and cheaply than internal checking
  • 65. We need to recast the debate
  • 66. We need to recast the debate ✤ Perhaps we need to talk about continuous improvement rather than failure; evolution (which has failure built in) rather than revolution
  • 67. We need to recast the debate ✤ Perhaps we need to talk about continuous improvement rather than failure; evolution (which has failure built in) rather than revolution ✤ Be upfront about problems, knowledge gaps, issues
  • 68. We need to recast the debate ✤ Perhaps we need to talk about continuous improvement rather than failure; evolution (which has failure built in) rather than revolution ✤ Be upfront about problems, knowledge gaps, issues ✤ Less centralised complexity; more distributed innovation
  • 69. We need to recast the debate ✤ Perhaps we need to talk about continuous improvement rather than failure; evolution (which has failure built in) rather than revolution ✤ Be upfront about problems, knowledge gaps, issues ✤ Less centralised complexity; more distributed innovation ✤ Make public data open by default (and include outsourced work/ data), particularly anything to do with spending money
  • 70. We need to recast the debate ✤ Perhaps we need to talk about continuous improvement rather than failure; evolution (which has failure built in) rather than revolution ✤ Be upfront about problems, knowledge gaps, issues ✤ Less centralised complexity; more distributed innovation ✤ Make public data open by default (and include outsourced work/ data), particularly anything to do with spending money ✤ Outsource commodity tasks, not skills and knowledge (and avoid the used-car buyer information trap). Stop the vendoritis
  • 71. We need to recast the debate ✤ Perhaps we need to talk about continuous improvement rather than failure; evolution (which has failure built in) rather than revolution ✤ Be upfront about problems, knowledge gaps, issues ✤ Less centralised complexity; more distributed innovation ✤ Make public data open by default (and include outsourced work/ data), particularly anything to do with spending money ✤ Outsource commodity tasks, not skills and knowledge (and avoid the used-car buyer information trap). Stop the vendoritis ✤ Reward small-scale innovation and spending less money (not big projects and spending more money)
  • 72. In short, less this...
  • 73. ...and more this 5 years of Linux kernel development in Git

Editor's Notes

  1. subtitle: These are the things you learn in public sector
  2. subtitle: These are the things you learn in public sector
  3. subtitle: These are the things you learn in public sector
  4. subtitle: These are the things you learn in public sector
  5. Note: Stability is very important when we’re talking about the public sector
  6. Note: Stability is very important when we’re talking about the public sector
  7. Note: Stability is very important when we’re talking about the public sector
  8. Note: Stability is very important when we’re talking about the public sector
  9. Ideally I’d like to reclaim back the concept of failure, back to Edison’s view of it: “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” Take the Netflix approach: here’s the data, help us understand it better; show us how to use it to improve things. The Market for Lemons: George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz
  10. Ideally I’d like to reclaim back the concept of failure, back to Edison’s view of it: “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” Take the Netflix approach: here’s the data, help us understand it better; show us how to use it to improve things. The Market for Lemons: George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz
  11. Ideally I’d like to reclaim back the concept of failure, back to Edison’s view of it: “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” Take the Netflix approach: here’s the data, help us understand it better; show us how to use it to improve things. The Market for Lemons: George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz
  12. Ideally I’d like to reclaim back the concept of failure, back to Edison’s view of it: “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” Take the Netflix approach: here’s the data, help us understand it better; show us how to use it to improve things. The Market for Lemons: George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz
  13. Ideally I’d like to reclaim back the concept of failure, back to Edison’s view of it: “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” Take the Netflix approach: here’s the data, help us understand it better; show us how to use it to improve things. The Market for Lemons: George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz
  14. Ideally I’d like to reclaim back the concept of failure, back to Edison’s view of it: “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” Take the Netflix approach: here’s the data, help us understand it better; show us how to use it to improve things. The Market for Lemons: George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz