IODC 2018: The hard questions for the future of open data

The latest edition of  the International Open Data Conference (IODC) is just around the bend. We’ll be discussing open data during the entire week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Through a series of pre-events, including symposiums, discussion panels and workshops as well as the main conference, we will discuss with open data practitioners, advocates, and researchers about the future of open data.

This type of conference is important since it allows us to engage with people in different contexts, who may think differently from us and it allows us to learn  through all the discussions.

Our hope: being constructively critical and don’t fear to talk about what does not work

There are some questions like, who does open data work for? Is it really for “everyone”? And if it is not, how do we serve people who are not necessarily interested in open data data but could benefit from it? These questions are not new – in fact some have been around from the very beginning of open data.

In order to advance we want to discuss if those are indeed the right questions. We acknowledge that there may be many views about this. As an example, some may think of the ‘open’ in open data as just a mechanism of sharing data. To us, open is much more than that: ‘open’ is a key value of the societies that we strive for, while being balanced appropriately with concerns around privacy and security.  We will grasp the opportunity of having these great minds in one place and gather different voices from the open data space present at the conference. We will start asking some of the uncomfortable questions that will let us know if open data is actually heading into the future – or are we doing business as usual since 2008?

Do we frame and think about societal problems in the right way? Has discourse around empowerment, transparency, accountability run out of steam? Must the political side of open data (fiscal transparency) become ‘more political’?

We suggest questions that are not straight-forward to answer. We acknowledge this and want to gather the variety of points of view before drawing conclusions.

Where we from Open Knowledge International will be

Open Knowledge International is represented at IODC by Sander van der Waal (@sandervdwaal), Danny Lammerhirt (@danlammerhirt), Oscar Montiel (@tlacoyodefrijol) and Cédric Lombion (@clombion). We want to join the discussions about the future of open data, engaging in the following debates (among others):

From our point of view, these spaces will start addressing some of the larger questions of the open data space. We feel like these debates are critical in their approach to the discourse of openness. It is crucial that look beyond open data for data’s sake, overlooking the political issues of this work.

We will also be helping facilitate workshops and present about our work on Fiscal Transparency, School of Data and Frictionless Data. Join us at the Open Contracting in Practice workshop on Tuesday morning, the refresh of the Open Data Principles workshop on Tuesday afternoon,  and the Data Standards Day on Wednesday.

So, if you’re in Buenos Aires as well we look forward to hearing from you; please come find us and discuss these questions! Or attend one of our sessions. If you’re not attending, please reach out on Twitter to @okfn or to one of us directly.