Developers are great but…

Doing wonderful things with data: creating apps that everyone can use to seamlessly skip through their lives, or educate/reveal information through linking the data is always going to be awe-inspiring and useful/needed. We know this, hence there is a real revolution in the way the developer community is being trusted to help government open data in a useful and appropriate way.

But equally there are other benefits to having people freely playing with data – what are they doing with it and why?

Take for example the fact that two of the apps developed independently from each other at Young Rewired State were for finding safe routes to school. This tells us more than just: oh there’s a clever app, let’s talk to the IT people and data people to get this live as a government service. It tells us that young people do not feel safe going to school and in a group of 50 people aged under 18, two groups have chosen to give up their weekend to try to develop a solution to this. (That’s quite a high margin).

To any business, organisation or government, this is extremely useful information. The solution is not the app, that might form part of it, but what the development of such an app tells us is that there is a fundamental problem, a very clearly defined one, that needs some attention.

I could go on to give countless examples, but I know that you are all brilliant enough to think through the implications of this for yourselves. And why I think that it is important that those beyond the geek community keep a very close eye on what comes out of making data available.

On that note, I am hoping to get some of the gen on the apps being created behind the closed Beta at data.gov.uk as I suspect that there some early lessons we can all take from this. And when they do open it all up, please take time to look through what has been done, and see what clues you can find to making your own businesses better – in and outside of government.

I am going to this – Barcamp overspill or somesuch

After a hectic Summer of Barcamps, festivals, general jolly get-togethers for all people who either crush on geeks or love social media and want to learn more – I find myself rather reluctantly signing myself up for one last hurrah (for this year).

Why reluctant? Because it is a Saturday and I love my daughters and want to see them (and make sure they do their homework).

Why sign up? Because I need to know this stuff. Speaking to these people and being around those that are passionately involved in this stuff enables me to do my job better. Read this post from Tom Steinberg of My Society to explain why the people who go to these things to share their knowledge are so important to amateurs like me. (P.S. It is Tom’s birthday tomorrow, knowing Tom S. as vaguely as I do I am sure that he would be delighted by a deluge of well-wishers :))

So, I will be there (sorry Jess and Amy – I love you x)

Do please come and find me if you are there too.