Open Data at the Rebellious Media Conference


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A short presentation about the ScraperWiki Hacks & Hackers Hack Days, plus some thoughts and info about opening up legal data

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Open Data at the Rebellious Media Conference

  1. 1. OPEN DATA & JOURNALISTS <br />REBELLIOUS MEDIA CONFERENCE 2011<br />Judith Townend (@jtownend)<br />
  2. 2. HACKS & HACKERS<br /><ul><li>First ScraperWiki Hacks & Hackers Hack Day in January 2010
  3. 3. 12 Hacks & Hackers events around UK and Ireland, sponsored by local media and universities, BBC, the Guardian, Skillset, Vision+Media
  4. 4. Involved around 430 ‘hacks’ and ‘hackers’
  5. 5. Simultaneously but separately, a ‘Hacks and Hackers’ meetup formed in London out of the ‘Ruby in the Pub’ group, led by Joanna Geary and others</li></li></ul><li>HACKS & HACKERS TOUR 2010/11<br /><ul><li> London
  6. 6. Liverpool – x 2
  7. 7. Manchester
  8. 8. Leeds
  9. 9. Glasgow
  10. 10. Dublin
  11. 11. Belfast
  12. 12. Cardiff
  13. 13. Sutton
  14. 14. Lichfield
  15. 15. Cardiff</li></li></ul><li>SCRAPERWIKI<br /><ul><li> Online tool that makes finding and storing data simpler and more collaborative
  16. 16. A technology platform that allows programmers to write and schedule screen scrapers and store the data they generate
  17. 17. Launched its "data mining" site in early 2010</li></li></ul><li>KNIGHT NEWS CHALLENGE<br />In June 2011 ScraperWiki was named a Knight News Challenge winner <br />It will use the Knight Foundation funding to expand to the United States, improve the platform’s functionality and make ScraperWiki even more useful to journalists around the world. <br />ScraperWiki plans to run events across 12 cities in 12 US States - to liberate local, state and federal data.<br />More info:<br />
  18. 18. HACK DAY IN ACTION<br /><br /><br />
  19. 19. EXAMPLE STORY 1<br /> ‘Leeds Uncut’ – winning project at Leeds Hacks & Hackers Hack Day, October 2010<br />A map showing eight Leeds constituencies in Leeds, highlighting how they’re being affected by spending cuts and redundancies <br />Looked at job vacancies in each of the constituencies, to identify whether the creation of new jobs is offsetting the doom and gloom caused by spending cuts and job losses. Different shades of colour in the form of an “economic health thermometer” gave a visually effective overview of which constituencies are suffering the most and least<br />Sources included data from: job websites, news websites, the Guardian’s Cutswatch page and the Office of National Statistics<br />
  20. 20. EXAMPLE STORY 2<br /> Manchester Hack Day: Making sense of #gmp24, October 2010<br /><ul><li>A web-based search system that makes it easier to view and analyse thousands of tweets about police incidents</li></ul><br /><br />
  21. 21.
  22. 22. OTHER EXAMPLES<br /><br /><br />Coalition urged to act over lobbyists who use party groups 'to buy influence‘” by James Ball, The Guardian, 25.02.11<br /> “Investigation reveals more than £1.6m was channelled to MPs and lords in last year by corporations and interest groups”<br />
  23. 23. RESEARCHING THE COURTS<br />Statement of case: available for a fee through courts (unless ‘sealed’)<br />Judgments: many released on Bailii and other sites<br />Court listings: some listed on HMCTS site <br />Results: complicated…(see Perrin 2011)<br />Reporting restrictions / court orders: no database<br />Transcripts: only by authorised paid services<br />Video and audio recordings: prohibited. Some official televising of Supreme Court cases (see Guardian)<br />
  24. 24. FRUSTRATIONS<br />Very little information is categorised or ‘tagged’, eg: by type of legal action <br />Can be costly to access documents <br />Release of data is patchy and inconsistent <br />Some legal data only made available through paid-for services<br />
  25. 25. WHY DO WE NEED DIGITAL OPEN JUSTICE?<br />As the Master of the Rolls said:<br /> “The great strength of our society is that it is built on the competing voices of free speech. Justice to be truly open must join its voice to the chorus; and must ensure that inaccurate or misleading reporting cannot gain traction.”<br /> Source:, March 2011<br />
  26. 26. CHALLENGING DISTORTION<br />Conservative ‘Cat flap’ <br /> “... the answer to the question of whether this is a case where an “illegal immigrant… cannot be deported because… he had a pet cat” appears to be no .... the reason he was not deported was because he successfully showed he had a relationship with another person lasting over two years, not that he had a pet cat.” Adam Wagner, UK Human Rights Blog<br />
  27. 27. SOURCES<br /><ul><li>
  28. 28.
  29. 29.</li></ul>Photo credit: MowT, Flickr<br />
  30. 30. FUTURE FOR LEGAL DATA<br />Open data consultation: deadline 27 October, 2011:<br />Digital open justice Google Group:<br />Ministry of Justice feedback:<br />Suggestions? <br />
  31. 31. CONTACT ME<br /><br />@jtownend on Twitter <br /><br />