OpenTech 2009 Provisional Schedule
Please note that the order of speakers within any session will be decided on the day, and may
no implication of ordering should be implied here.
The slides that ran at lunchtime to say Thank you to those that helped make the event happen
Thanks to Richard Elen for his list of links to presentations (also now below).
|Main Hall (101)
|10:00am Doors Open
|11:00am Session 1
Community and Democracy in Hijacked Space
Some of the Space Hijackers talk about what's interesting them.
Does FOI work? You bet!
Heather Brooke talks
about getting hold of MPs' expense receipts. Heather will also join the Freedom of Information workshop later in the day.
Chair: D Green.
KenYersel: a web of democratic rationality - Lucas Dixon
How can we reconcile the internet's
terrible verbosity - just think of
internet forums, emails lists, and
comment streams - with it's unique power
to let so many people participate and
express themselves? KenYersel mixes
web-technologies with democratic
discussion games, an evolving
thought-vine, a web for better democracy.
The Open Internet - Gervase Markham, Mozilla Foundation
The Mozilla project is tasked with "guarding the open nature of the Internet". What happens when you
take the principles of 'open' - freedom, transparency, hackability, community - and map them to the
net? Is it good? And, if so, what can the people in this room do to help it happen? And what
Chair: P Waring
VOIP radio drama - Richard Elen
Radio drama is a wonderful medium: it can
be inexpensive to produce, extremely
evocative, and of course the pictures are
so much better than on television. But
effective radio drama does not require
the facilities of Broadcasting House:
using VOIP techniques and an audio
editing system you can create it at home
and not even be in the same room - you
can be anywhere in the world. The Radio
Riel Players was founded in 2008 by a
group of Second Life residents around the
world to produce plays for broadcast on
internet radio. So far, we have produced
a few public-domain works, including
excerpts from Shakespeare for the
"Shakespeare in SL" project, an E F
Benson short story, and Charles Dickens's
"A Christmas Carol". Next up is "Pride &
Prejudice". The technique is an ideal way
of allowing a group of people separated
by space to create new and traditional
dramatic works for Internet distribution.
This talk shows how you can do it
yourself. With performers around the
world it requires plenty of planning and
co-ordination to get people together at
the same time and determine which
segments to record when. There are steps
you can take to maximise audio quality
(we use Skype) and post-production is
needed to remove latency and polish the
final result (though you can do live
performances at a pinch). You also need
to use public domain or original
material, original music and sound
effects (or use royalty-free sources or
take out a PRS Limited Online
Exploitation Licence and use production
libraries). The result can be broadcast
on internet radio or made available as a
Digital Archaeology of the microcomputer, 1974-1994. Steve Goodwin
In a few years time, it will be
impossible to study the history of home
computers since everything at the time
was proprietary; both in terms of the
physical hardware, and all the software
that ran upon it since most of it is
encumbered by software "protection" to
prevent copying. To compound the problem,
the hardware is dying (literally) and
(being proprietary) can?t be rebuilt in
any equivalent manner. In some cases the
software is physically disintegrating too
since, in the case of many 8-bit micros
from the 1980?s, the storage medium was
cassette tape; a temperamental mechanism
at the time, let alone now. It?s not that
no computer innovation took place in the
1980?s, just that none of it will be
recorded. This talk looks at the methods
necessary to preserve our legacy.
How can open video become the new TV? - Hamish Campbell
Intro to the visionoOntv project
visionOntv has the goal of making open
video activate social change. We have
modest foundation funding for 2 years to
launch this (starting April 2009).
Chair: R Whittaker.
|12:00 Session 2
Going beyond ideas to implementation. With Tom Steinberg (mySociety), Tom Loosemore (4iP and more) and Louise Ferguson (OpenRightsGroup and more).
Standards are Peace, Standardization is War! - Paul Downey
If standards represent peace, then formal
standardisation can be war! Dark,
political, expensive and exclusive games
played out between large vendors often
behind closed doors. There are better
ways to forge consensus and build
agreements and the notion of a committee
taking often a number of years to writing
a specification, especially in the
absence of implementation experience
appears archaic in today's world of Agile
methods, test driven development, open
source, Wikis and other Web base
collaborations. This talk will draw upon
Paul's personal experiences forged in the
wonderful world of XML and Web service
standardisation, examine the risks of
premature standardisation, unnatural
constraints, partial implementations and
open extensions, puzzle how to avoid
lock-in, and contrast formal activities
with lightweight open processes as
exemplified by open source, Microformats,
OpenID, OAuth and other Web conventions
being ratified through open, lightweight,
continuous agreement as exemplified in
his drawings "The Web is Agreement":
Why our internet liability laws are broken - Francis Davey
I'll explain why the laws that are
supposed to protect the "innocent" (such
as web hosting companies) from legal
liability do not do the job properly.
This affects anyone who puts information
onto the internet or who is responsible
for moderating such information
(including the lowly blogger). The talk
will hopefully raise awareness and lead
to better public discussion of the
One Click Orgs: lightweight legal structure for community groups
Most volunteer and community projects
start off informally as groups of people
who share an interest. This is fine until
they reach a size where they need to
start voting on decisions or need a
constitution so they can open a bank
account. At this point they're confronted
by a bewildering choice of legal
structures and a load of bureaucracy to
get an organisation set up. We think
people have got more important things to
worry about. One Click Orgs is building a
website where you can automatically
create a legal structure and electronic
voting system for your group. The
platform will maintain a record of group
decisions, log how members have voted and
provide automatic tools to modify the
constitution as the group's needs evolve.
All OpenTech attendees will be offered
early access to the One Click Orgs closed
beta when it goes live later in 2009.
|2:00pm Session 3
It's fifty years since CP Snow's famous
lecture on the Two Cultures - science and
literature. We seem to have a different
divide these days, between people like us
and the rest. What might be done about
Beyond the Bad Science Blog
Chair: Z Margolis
- Is It Open? Pushing for Open Data in Science - Peter Murray-Rust (University of Cambridge)
- Database License: Share-Alike for Data and Databases - Jordan Hatcher (Open Data Commons)
- Open Street Map - Steve Coast
Open Street Map
OpenStreetMap (OSM) continues to cause earthquakes mapping the planet.
Come and learn where it is and where it's going!
Chair: R Allan.
How to Build Developer Communities - Phil Whitehouse
Engaging with developer communities is
becoming an increasingly popular
activity. But whether it's big business
or one-man open source operations, there
are some key challenges that need to be
considered. In this talk, we explore the
common mistakes people or organisations
have made when engaging with these
communities, and what we can learn from
them. Many of these insights have
repercussions across not just developer
communities, but all communities ? and
Open Source and Schools - Miles Berry
Open source software is receiving much interest in UK education, through
web-based applications such as Moodle, wordpress and Elgg, open source
programs that run under Windows, like OpenOffice.org, Audacity and Freemind,
and increasing interest in Linux powered netbooks. The presentation will
give a flavour of some of the applications used, discuss the work of the
Becta supported Open Source Schools community and explore some of the
strategies for encouraging open source use and development in schools.
Ndiyo - a modern, open, robust, thin client system - Michael Dales
The developing world is no different from
the developed world in its desire for
access to information technology, but the
expense of computers and the
unreliability of infrastructure makes it
hard for such places to get on an even
footing with those of us in the developed
world. At Ndiyo we want to redress this
inbalance. We've developed an ultra-thin
client solution that lets one PC be
shared between many users. The aim is to
produce a thin client that can be made
cheaply, is robust, low-powered, and can
cope with unreliable power. This
hardware, which we call a Nivo, in
combination with open software such as
Linux and Xen, makes it easy to setup a
multiuser system. As a result, bringing
computing to a school, library, or
internet cafe in the developing world
becomes more obtainable. In this talk
I'll explain a bit about the hardware we
use, how we use it to turn a single Linux
PC into a multiuser system, and the ways
in which it can be used, and describe
some of the Ndiyo trials we've carried
out around the world.
Chair: N Metheringham
Freedom of Information/WhatDoTheyKnow workshop
Is there something part of the government is doing that you'd
like to investigate?
Find out everything from MPs' expenses, to the length of allotment
waiting lists, to whether your council's Nov 5th bonfire is
properly checked for hedgehogs.
This practical workshop will help you make your first Freedom
of Information request, including working out what to request,
where to request it from and what exactly to write.
If you're an old hand, you can get and give tips on how to
take requests further.
We've got a team of FOI experts to kick things off and answer hard
- Heather Brooke used FOI to cause the frurore over MPs' expenses.
- Francis Davey is a lawyer with a specialist knowledge in FOI.
- John Cross is a volunteer for the WhatDoTheyKnow website.
- Elena Egawhary is a freelance journalist, currently working for Panorama.
- Francis Irving (mySociety) is a campaigner who works on WhatDoTheyKnow.
Bring a laptop if you have one. Internet will be provided in this
room only, so we can scour Government websites, and make requests
on mySociety's WhatDoTheyKnow.com website.
|3pm Session 4 (50 mins)
- Suw Charman-Anderson - Ada Lovelace Day: what happened, why, etc.
- Janet Parkinson - Marketing to the Digital Woman - Women in Tech
- Sue Black - Setting up an online women in tech network - 10 years on, and how a supportive community and role models are really important for women to succeed
- Kathryn Corrick - interactive brainstorm with the audience to find some women who they think are a modern Ada Lovelace. Kathryn's writeup of this session
We look back on the first ever Ada Lovelace Day; tell the story of the
BCSWomen network; examine how companies market to women online; and ask the
question: Who's a modern Ada Lovelace? Moderator Zoe Margolis is joined by
Sue Black, Janet Parkinson, Kathryn Corrick and Suw Charman-Anderson to take
an inspirational look at women in tech.
Moderator: Zoe Margolis
Web of Power - What's next? Richard Pope and Rob McKinnon
Politics is all about how power gets
sliced up in society. We've used the web
make MP's/councils etc more transparent,
but thats only the beginning. There's a
whole other load of warehouses of power
out there, companies, journalists,
finance, so who's after the politicians
and how do use tech do it?
How to track corporate influence on the
system? Who's lobbying in the UK? How to
build tools to track company information
Opening up the Guardian - Simon Willison
In April, the Guardian released the first
components of its new Open Platform
strategy: the Content API and the
Datablog. The Content API provides access
to the last decade of Guardian content,
including headlines, metadata and the
full text of each article. The Datablog
publishes spreadsheets of information
collected by Guardian journalists, and
encourages people to analyse and explore
the data behind the news.
The Guardian and the Ian Tomlinson story - Paul Roache
Impact of new media and new methods on the Guardian around the Ian Tomlinson story.
|4:10pm Session 5
ephemerality? Real time web vs persistence - Gavin Bell
What value has the real time web? How
long is something interesting for? How
long is permalink permanent? The rush to
the bright new thing that is the real
time web is not all good. We are self
documenting our world, but we seem to
want to retain it all. Activity streams
give us a huge amount of content to
decide about in the future. We have a
binary approach to persistence on the
web, permalinks are around for ever, in
theory. Yet many aspects of the web are
intentionally short term, microsites for
Where are the
forgetting processes, where are the
attics and abandoned houses of the past.
Should we be saving everything or
sampling and 'transcluding' some content
instead The 90s are poorly represented
online, the 00s better? what about the
Location, Privacy and Opting In not Out - Gary Gale
The explosion of location based services
has moved the concept of a user's
location from a niche to the mainstream.
But how do you decide whether to use a
location based service and how much
location information should you choose to
reveal? In this talk I'll discuss how you
should choose to opt in not out and how
you should write your own location
Your Energy Identity - Gavin Starks
As the worlds consumption data is
revealed in the name of sustainability,
your personal and business profiles are
being measured and tracked in increasing
detail. Through payment systems, new
sensors, smart meters and smart grids to
GPS inferring your mode of transport -
shouldn't we be treating this information
as carefully as the rest of our digital
Gavin Starks founded AMEE.
Slides part 1, part 2))
Spread The Web - Fran Sainsbury
Web 2.0 is still a confusing world for
many non techies. But the growth of
simple and free online platforms means
anyone can blog, network and communicate.
'Spread the web' is about my experiences
sharing basic web skills to help an NGO
communicate better. I helped them open up
closed conferences through a basic
Wordpress site, Youtube, Flickr, Twitter
etc. We ended up helping to live blog a
conference from Chile! But the
organisation now has the skills
themselves for the future. How can UK
geeks have the most impact? Building web
capacity in the third sector by knowledge
transfer could be the best thing we do
for civil society. Here or in the
developing world (see GeekCorps). Each
one, teach one.
Local web beyond the hype - William Perrin
From an explosion outside my house in kings cross, all the way to my new project, in association with 4iP
Federated Microblogging - Adewale Oshineye
from twitter to jaiku and beyond
Treat Software as a Symbiotic Organism that Needs a Host Geek to Survive - Jeremy Ruston
Software dies when there is nobody around
to care for it, to keep it up to date
with the latest version of PHP, or
Windows, or the latest foibles of users.
In this talk, a slightly silly way of
thinking about software is presented,
that recognises the peculiarly symbiotic
relationship between a useful piece of
software and its host geek(s).
The Infocene - Stuart Smith
Ever since the dawn of Civilization at
the end of the last ice age, around
10,000 years ago, people have used the
technology of the age to underpin their
existence. At the dawn of the nineteenth
Century, the Industrial revolution marked
a new frontier for Civilization, whereby
fossil fuels could be burned to power
machines, factories and engines on a
grand scale. Today, we stand on the
precipice again, as political, economic
and social boundaries collide. We are in
an age of great challenge alongside
unbounded opportunity, with technology
that allows us to interact with anyone,
anywhere from any place. We also
encounter a boundary, whereby the next
stage of human evolution, must reverse
and repair the environmental damage of
the last. Technology has many of the
answers to this quandary, but we will not
reap the benefits, unless we undergo the
same sort of paradigm shift that was
required to traverse the previous ages of
human existence. During the talk I will
look to explore lessons from the past and
pose questions about the future,
regarding the cultural impact of
technology and it's consequences.
|5:00pm Session 6
This session will be a continuation of the previous one. There will be an opportunity for people to swap to other sessions.
4iP - Public service tools for empowerment
Using and developing tools for empowerment 4ip.org.uk
Video of Sir Bonar's Address at the start of this session.
No2ID and Open Rights Group: Intercept Modernisation Programme (IMP)
Guy Herbert, General Secretary, No2ID
Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group.
The IMP is the latest addition to the database state that would turn
the entire telecoms infrastructure into a single dataset for
Government to use, abuse and data mine. Early rumours of the system
stirred major public opposition due to its disregard for individual
liberty and huge cost. Plans suggest hundreds of security agencies
will have unfettered access to the nation's communications data,
including details of telephone numbers dialled, the location of mobile
phones and email headers. IMP may also also field Deep Packet
Inspection equipment to look at the content of your Internet traffic,
for example your coordinates in Second Life and webmail inbox screen.
What can you do to push back against the IMP? Come along to find out.
What should happen online for the 2010 general election?
If you're interested, come along, and talk to others. There is no schedule for this.
Facilitated by Adam McGreggor
The bar stays open till 10pm