Inspace, housed within the University of Edinburgh, has hosted a number of events that I've enjoyed over the past year – from mushroom-inspired improvised music to film screenings. On Wednesday 23 February I attended an 'openness' discussion: open innovation, open data, collaborations, etc. Lead organisations were Amb:IT:ion Scotland and the Festivals Lab. The event was also streamed live online, to people such as David McGillivray who has posted a thorough and thoughtful response on his blog.
Maybe you didn't have to be there, man.
The venue is a few yards from Appleton Tower, which hosts Fringe Central during August and therefore the Fringe Society's AGM. There was a tangible shift in attitude towards opening up data between the two events, with lead contributors to the more recent discussion much more enthusiastic. Of course, that also reflects the different relationships that exist between the people concerned and the data at hand: one lot are ready and willing to get stuck into playing with the numbers, locations, bits and bytes; the other have business decisions to make, bills to pay and stakeholders to satisfy.
I left the meet up with optimism that more organisations will take hold of the opportunities that freeing up their data makes available to them, so long as it is managed and controlled to their best advantage. David's subsequent blog also applies these ideas to the Higher Education sector, including the idea of 'Learning and Teaching Innovation Labs' within institutions: I think this is a fantastic idea, but would caution that it may need to have its roots at a very local level, so that academics can see what's being done by their immediate contemporaries. Nicholas Christakis has taught us of the power of networks, so the best way to do something really innovative and open in education is to seek out those who have already picked up the ball and started running.
Image: 'The Secret Sounds of Spores Spectacular! - Fri 21 January 2011 -0339'