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Announcing the Open Data Handbook version 1.0

The Open Knowledge Foundation are proud to announce the launch of version 1.0 of the Open Data Handbook (formerly the Open Data Manual):

Read the Open Data Handbook now! »

Old books

The Handbook discusses the ‘why, what and how’ of open data – why to go open, what open is, how to make data open and how to do useful things with it.

Read on to find out more about what’s in the Handbook, who it’s for, and how you can get involved – for example by adding to and improving the Handbook, or by translating it into more languages.

What is the Open Data Handbook?

The Open Data Handbook is a valuable resource for everyone interested in open data. It covers many types of data, but its particular focus is open government data.

The Open Data Handbook is targeted towards a broad audience. It contains useful information for civil servants, journalists, activists, developers, researchers – basically, for anyone with an interest in open data!

From a basic introduction of the ‘what and why’ of open data, the Handbook goes on to discuss the practicalities of making data open – the ‘how’. It gives advice on everything from choosing a file format and applying a license, to motivating the community and telling the world. Clear explanations, illustrative examples and technical recommendations make the Handbook suitable for people with all levels of experience, from the absolute beginner to the seasoned open data professional.

The Handbook is divided into short chapters which cover individual aspects of open data. It can be read in a single sitting, or dipped into as a reference work.

Finally, the Handbook is intended to be an organic project. It has been dubbed v1.0 for a reason – we hope that there are many more versions to come! We welcome feedback and suggestions; more on this below.

Where did it come from?

The Open Data Handbook began life as the ‘Open Data Manual’. The initial text was written at a book sprint in Berlin in October 2010. The sprint was organized by members of the Open Government Data and Open Data in the EU working groups at the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Since then, a wide group of editors and contributors have added to and refined the original material, to create the Handbook you see today.

What next?

The vision is to create a series of open-source Handbooks and Guides, which offer advice on different aspects of open data. This project has already been started. So far, we have:

We hope to expand this list and to add further titles over time.

Work to translate the Open Data Handbook into many more languages has already begun, and special thanks are due to everyone who has already contributed. However, more translators are needed! You can watch the progress of the translations on Transifex. See below for details of how to contribute.

We are also aware of the need to tailor general advice about open government data to the legislative frameworks and requirements of different countries. If you would like to be involved in writing a country specific adaptation of the Open Data Handbook, please do get in touch via the mailing list.

Get involved!

The Open Data Handbook v1.0 represents the culmination of more than a year’s work – but the challenge isn’t over yet!

We need now need your input in order to:

  • Translate the text into more languages! We use Transifex to manage translations; see the instructions on our wiki for information about how to get started
  • Point out corrections and suggestions for improvement on our issue tracker or by emailing opendatahandbook[@]ofkn.org.
  • Contribute to the next version of the Open Data Handbook – join the mailing list and share your ideas!
  • Donate! We are committed to keeping the Open Data Handbook entirely free, and all contributions to enable this are gratefully received. Please follow the button below:

 

 

 

7 responses to Announcing the Open Data Handbook version 1.0

  1. Nice work! I was a little disappointed not to see any mention of Linked Data, given that this is the way the inventor of the Web recommends it’s published (and there’s a lot of it out there!). Tim Berners-Lee’s Design Issue, linkeddata.org, “5 Star” data.

    • A specific decision on the first version of the handbook was to be almost entirely agnostic on the technical front.

      For version 2.0 (or even just 1.1) we could have more on this. I would also have to say that I personally don’t think that open data has to be linked data :-) — it is great if it is, but requiring that open data be linked data would create a fairly significant barrier to publishing open data.

  2. Hmm, I could quibble about it actually being agnostic now…but I won’t.

    Agreed 100% about open data not having to be linked. I think it was in a TED talk that timbl said the same – first priority being just to get the data out. In fact in his own 5 Star system I think he is perhaps a little too religious in explicitly referring to RDF and SPARQL at the 4 Star mark (one step up from publishing open CSV). This one I reckon is preferable: “use URIs to identify things, so that people can point at your stuff” http://5stardata.info/#by-example This is good practice for putting any material on the Web.

    Basically IMHO it would be nice to see some reference in (a future edition of) the Handbook for people to know that this was an option, even if it was only by reference to examples like the UK gov stuff.

    • @Danny: all good points.

      BTW i’m interested on what isn’t agnostic now — different people have contributed to the manual over time with their different tastes ;-) and if there was something you thought we should correct or add I’d be interested to hear it!

      Also I should emphasize that a) we would really like a section on linked data in there, and like your suggestions along these lines (we probably wouldn’t need that much in as we can link out to the excellent material already produced by others).

      Which brings me to the question: would you be interested in contributing!

  3. to put it in a way which seems appropriate:

    Y U NO provide a pdf ???

    but now seriously: I think you should provide a pdf. Science thirsts for something they can actually cite and reference to. Why not make the handbook to a standard volume for every researcher to use?

  4. Thanks much for posting this and the ongoing work with the handbook. I learned about the book sprint at last year’s transmediale and, as editor of an analysis site, have ongoing interests in how this will all work as regards the People’s Republic of China and North Korea. These are societies whicha are by and large immune to “transparency grenade” treatment but about which a great deal of data is obviously sloshing around in various languages. How to corral it and interpret it seems to be a key question.

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