Last year, I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina as an Open Heroine grantee to attend the International Open Data Conference (IODC). The goal of this event is to bring the open data community together to reflect on both the current state and future of open data.
Attending IODC18 required that I step out of my comfort zone in multiple ways — as a mother who had never been apart from her 3 year old son, as a woman traveling by herself to South America, and as a developer that only had a vague idea of what ‘open’ meant.
I experienced my trip and the conference with these perspectives in mind, feeling both very lucky, and a bit nervous, all at the same time.
Focus on the Future
Before attending myself, I did not know what audience would attend IODC18, but I sure did expect to find a more technical community than I did.
“The future is open” was the conference slogan. But why is it that the technical community was not present, at the conference looking for different ways to help governments and cities achieve this future? Why are we not more worried that developers’ interests are not aligned with this vision? These questions have stuck with me since IODC18 a year ago.
I kept hearing about the amazing results open data has brought to different areas in different countries. However, I did not hear about how these results were accomplished, or any of the technical challenges that were overcome to get there. However, I am certain that there are people with amazing technical skills behind every one of those results.
So as a developer, how can I help?
I went to the conference with a vague understanding of what “Open Data” is, but I left with a very clear concept of what it means — and how governments, cities, and the private sector can achieve better results using it. Despite my conceptual understanding, I was not sure about what contributions the open data community would expect from me as a developer.
However, what I really enjoyed about IODC18 was the diversity of sessions and speakers that allowed me to understand the impact of opening data in different sectors. It was very enriching to hear about AI intersecting with data ethics, since this is something I work with every day. It was also interesting to hear about attacking misinformation with bots as well.
Last but not least, it was very empowering to listen to women speak on improving the open data community and environment for us all.
What I would have liked to hear more of, though, is how I can get more involved in this environment from my position — considering that developers are among the most active consumers of open data.
It is essential that developers are directly involved in the open data conversation. We use open data to build things. And if standards exist to publish and consume the data, we use those standards to do so.
Opening my network
I am really grateful to the Open Heroines community for giving me the opportunity to dig a little more into the Open Data world. I met very interesting and empowered women from around the world, despite my not being a big fan of networking!
As for my suggestions to the conference, for the upcoming IODC20 and future open data events in general, I am looking forward to being involved in communities doing a better job connecting to one another so that we can open the future together.