Reading through the Twitter feed of an event I’m interested in but can’t attend is something of a pastime for me. It was with great interest – and not a little amusement – that I was tracking the progress of a recent Nominet Trust event on UK charities and open data. Following the Twitter hashtag #opencharities offered some genuinely fascinating insights into how charities and individuals are using open data to help inform their work. As Tweets such as
flashed up on my screen, I got a flavour of the kind of event that was unfolding.
Indigo trustee, Will Perrin, was also at the event as his organisation, Talk About Local, has a long-standing interest in how local organisations in the UK can use open data to help inform and guide their work. He offered the following helpful tips:
- Work with people at all stages of capability – there was a huge spread in the room, from people who didn’t even gather data from/on their customers to charities that had hired a data geek.
- Simplify and clarify language – the geeks in particular need to modify their language to be less technical and more inclusive. You wouldn’t turn up at a meeting and speak Latin, don’t turn up and speak geek – people will feel excluded and walk away.
- Show the goal or benefits – open data is complicated stuff you need to keep telling people what the goal is so that they persevere.
- Provide resources all can use – BIG, NCVO, NominetTrust need to pool resources and provide one definitive place for the UK voluntary sector to go to for advice and links on opendata.
- Encourage behaviour with funding – make it clear grants will be favoured that include and element of open data.
- Provide somewhere to discuss issues – people who are good at this stuff love to help others. And the territory covered is so broad that generic advice always needs tailoring. A simple discussion forum for peer support would be the appropriate technical solution.