Just to post a recap of the things that have happened during the last year. While it has been awfully quiet around here a lot of things have been going on behind the screens and in other places.
We did most of our data work within Hack de Overheid / Open State where we believe our efforts produced the largest possible impact. During the past two years as part of my program direction, curation, advice and advocacy along with the help of my extremely capable fellows has enabled a series of events and a network to evolve in the Netherlands, the likes of which the world has not yet seen.
A summary would already be too long to post here (just skim the weeknotes to get a glimpse), but to name some highlights: several app competitions, numerous hackathons (the next of which is in Rotterdam) with apps developed in the hundreds and a range of theme networks around certain subjects. We have turned the Netherlands from an open data laggard into a country with one of the most vibrant ecosystems in Europe. Doing this together taught me one of the most important lessons in doing business: people working together can achieve more than they can alone.
To add to that, the foundation we built is going to be even stronger in 2013 which will alleviate my personal involvement in the operational day-to-day and enable me to focus on my own data business again.
On the services part, we have diversified from a pure visualization offering to a set of services that emphasize product development in a big data context as well as taking on teaching to develop data capabilities within organizations.
We focus on Analysis, Creation and Teaching because we have found that a pure focus on visualization is not pertinent to solve significant problems for most organizations. The issues they deal with are far more complex and capable visualizations are only one small part of the solution.
Added to that we found that data literacy at all levels in society from decision makers to journalists and designers to the general public is severely lacking. This creates a challenging environment for those busy in the field of data. Explaining the work they do to the general public is not only in a practitioner’s self-interest, it is also a moral responsibility.
Also we moved our base of operations to the European startup capital Berlin while still maintaining offices in the Netherlands.
Our Alper has joined the board of Hack de Overheid a Dutch think tank that creates software and events to advance thinking about transparent government and open data in the Netherlands. Actually more of a do tank in that respect.
Each year Hack de Overheid holds a developer day where civically inclined programmers gather to exchange knowledge and create new open data projects either with government’s consent or without.
This year the devcamp is part of a broader program along with an application contest for local data and local applications in the city of Amsterdam called Apps for Amsterdam. There is a lot of momentum and it looks like open data is finally being taken seriously.
Until the event, updates here may be a bit sparse, but do register for the March 12th event if you have any interest in data and let’s create something great together.
The past weeks Alper has been giving lectures at the Willem de Kooning design academy on the subject of data visualization. The students should be busy creating their projects these coming weeks and we eagerly anticipate their results.