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FutureEverything Liveblogging 2011

So I’m going to attempt a liveblog from some of the FutureEverything talks. I’ll be updating this page throughout the day.

  • The internet of things that no longer exist – Dr Chris Speed
  • Iconomical. Data and Infographics – Elizabeth Turner and Dave Boyce
  • Open Transport
  • Linked data/ Data stories
  • Robots, editors, strangers & friends

  • The internet of things that no longer exist – Dr Chris Speed

    So, the internet of things: Stuff that’s on the internet. Or as Future Everything says:

    The ‘internet of things’, refers to the technical and cultural shift as society moves to a 24/7 form of computing in which every device is ‘always on’, and every device is connected in some way to the internet. However, many versions of this notion rely upon one significant premise: that the thing remains in existence.

    Chris has been experimenting with gathering stories related to objects.

    He gathered stories from people dropping off donations at a charity shop in Manchester and attached the story of the item to an RFID tag attached to the object, so people could hear this in the shop.

    These ‘things’ become more than just ‘things’ as they’re laden with memories. Is this a new way of consuming and thinking about objects?

    Ghost bikes are bikes painted white and left in the site of where someone died from a cycling accident. The ‘ghosts’ are physical reminders for us. And are full of memories and emotion.

    May day riots. A war memorial was vandalised. There was outrage, as this is a ‘ghost’ and you can’t play with it, it’s sacred. But the act of the vandalism meant that it got brought back into public consciousness.

    Is this how the internet is going to go? Full of dead objects connected with memories? Will the internet space these dead things occupy become sacred?

    Iconomical. Data and Infographics – Elizabeth Turner

    Users tend to be quite passive but love to click on things, so interactivity is the best way to engage. DON’T MAKE static Infographics. Use timelines, maps etc. Also think about if they need to be suitable for print and how they need to be presented.

    Tools created need to be about exploring stuff we don’t yet know. By asking relevant questions about stuff we already do know. We have to be careful about editorial bias. This can occur even when we’re choosing the metrics by which to measure things.

    Iconomical are currently working on projects with governments to help them really understand where money is becing spent. They’re also looking in to using the data to create projections for the future and mapping back in the past, looking at trends.

    “We need to be more concerned with the actual analysis of the data.”

    Open transport

    Featuring David Hytch, Richard Russell, Jonathan Raper, Tom Steinberg. Moderator Dr. Thomas Birtchnell

    David Hytch – Information Systems Director for Transport for Greater Manchester

    Greater Manchester Transport facts: 14,000 bus stops, 200 train stations 2,000 bus routes, 40 bus operators, 6 train operators. They’re currently developing open data sets for Manchester Transport which can be used in an exciting way.

    But, as always, there is a limited budget and different people want different facts in different ways. Can this be crowd-sourced or developed innovatively?

    They’re happy to release real time data… but there are implications. If it’s updated every 15 minutes, they can turn on the tap, but it needs to be managed, or you’ll be flooded.

    Richard Russell has been working at Google UK for the past four years

    Google likes the user data. And in the correct format so it can interact with as much stuff as possible. You also need to develop a relationship with the right people so it’s distributed and updated. Also is it sustainable, can you get a licence to use the data and make money from it.

    GTFS Community is a free format for data to be used by developers. It means agencies produce in GTFS, developers can interact and make stuff with it and this can then be passed to users.

    See: google.com/transitpartners

    Jonathan Raper is CEO of the location-based services startup Placr Ltd.

    Rules:

    • Public money going IN must = access. Give us the raw data so that developers can do good shizzle. Network Rail are a private body with a public task and WONT give out data. Boooo. Highways agency are brill at giving out data.
    • Free – We can only do excellent things with this info if the cost base is LOW. Don’t make licencing complicated.
    • Travel line are expensive. TFL give away a lot of real time tube data for free. Good for them.
    • Equal access to data – Data GM document data well
    • Release data in the format it is already held in. Dammit man. It took iBus 2 years to get off the ground because they had to faff around with data.

    Tom Steinberg is the founder and director of mySociety

    Usually think transport data is about journey planning. It’s useful in other ways:

    • Mapumental Helps you find where to live based on a sensible commute using transport info.
    • Fix My Transport helps communities get together and campaign for improvements in their community.

    Linked data/ data stories

    Chris Taggart – Originally a magazine journalist then later publisher (and occasional geek)

    Looking at data carefully can influence good journalism and bring up interesting stories.

    Martin Belam is Lead User Experience & Information Architect at Guardian News & Media

    There’s plenty of varied data available. From published data to trails users leave as they use the internet. Wiki leaks showed that American soldiers are good at adding meta data to information. Data is softer than it looks. Mainstream media and politicians often uses this in the way they want. How?

    Small sample sizes, using an area of peak and failing to show error margins

    Now we can produce tools for people to find data for themselves. 15,000 data sets collected by The Guardian for use. They’re making it accessible so that people can explore it, but without making it like The Matrix.

    Linked data would make things great.

    David Higgerson – Head of multimedia for Trinity Mirror Regionals

    Audiences are increasingly asking to see sources of data. Open data is not a threat to journalism, despite what’s said. Journalists aim to find information that’s interesting to the user. Another warning against infographics from David. Don’t get caught in the trap, simplicity can give it strengths.

    Paul Bradshaw is visiting professor in online journalism at City University London

    Newspapers are FAST. Good journalism needs time. Don’t get distracted by the tools. Good journalists need to:

    Compile, Clean, Connect when they get data.

    Panel chat

    It’s a skill to spot dodgy data and use it as a story

    You need to know the consequences of releasing data

    Robots, editors, strangers & friends

    Meg Pickard is the Head of Digital Engagement for Guardian News & Media

    Dan Catt is a programmer The Guardian (and likes kittens)

    Word of mouth and trust is important and many people use this as a filter. I’ll either ask the newspaper or I’ll ask my friend Anna.

    Transmediated Discovery is the act of being involved in a social space. Social Syndication.

    When you’re looking for new stuff, you might branch out to BOTS. Some bots are quite clever and can filter meta data. Google news helps you find out whats important by recommends, relevancy, time etc… the robots are applying an extra layer of sense, although they can sometimes be evil and not notice when they’ve made a mistake until its too late.

    Strangers can sometimes be better for us than friends if they have the same interests as us.

    Hump of irrelevance is interesting. Trending topics are often not always relevant.

    Robots can be useful if they’re set up well. It’s a good idea to use them to measure stuff. To understand a city you have to be in it, then to analyse it you need to step out of it. Same with data.

    Dan and Meg built Guardian Zeitgeist to see what was popular on the site. It’s front end is pretty, but the back end is prettier (graphs, mmm) and helps them to see rhythms in the use of the content and what’s really going on and how it’s all linked together.

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