Why did I change my mind about open data?

Knowledge against fear and suspicion – open data is beneficial

Generally disagreeing about any kind of data sharing, I realized my behavior was mostly based on fear. Fear is a major impediment to anything innovative and to any kind of change. Why did I change my mind about open data? It is about differentiating between public and private data, and about the fact that data made public are first of all edited.

New work – new ideas

In November 2015, I started working at Liip and I had a lot of new projects and inputs. The core of my work is the same, I completely changed field though. I stand now in the middle of a flow of innovative ideas and energy, which is very motivating and helps me be constantly open-minded.
One of my projects, last spring, was the coordination of Liip’s involvement at the annual opendata.ch conference. No, I cannot communicate about anything if I don’t understand it! Otherwise I would write complete bulls**t, people would notice it and Liip would lose all credibility on the subject. In other words, I had to know what I was talking about in order to be able to talk about it.

Fear & suspicion, people will be stalking me and CFF tickets will get more expensive

I used to completely disagree on any kind of open data. I mean, why, on Earth, would I be okay to share my personal data with the rest of the world?
Seriously, I was sure that, if I collaborate with the CFF surveys, tickets will get more expensive between Geneva and Lausanne, because they will know my commuting habits. I was convinced that Swisscom will soon be selling my personal data to private polls. If I use a MBudget Card, some people will be stalking me as they know that I always go grocery shopping at the same Migros.

Fear brings fear. It is a major impediment to anything innovative and to any kind of change. The first step to any change of perspective was me realizing that my reaction was based on some purely irrational feeling instead of rational information.

Let’s get started with some reading!

Knowledge the best enemy of fear: What is actually ‘open data’ ?

My education to open data started with learning about the projects that Liip developed (like the open data catalogue of the city of Zurich or the project with the Swiss Federal Archive). I discussed with my colleagues, but the concept of open data remained difficult to grasp.
What is concretely open data?

Step 1: A definition:

The definition of open data as given by the opendefinition.org

“Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose”

As it is very general, the full open definition gives a detailed list of attributes. It is a bit of an unfriendly reading, the open data handbook provides a summary of the most important aspects:

“Availability and Access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.
Re-use and Redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit re-use and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets.
Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, re-use and redistribute – there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavor or against persons or groups. For example, ‘non-commercial’ restrictions that would prevent ‘commercial’ use, or restrictions of use for certain purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed.”

The important thing to remember is that it is a type of content completely available to anyone – public or private sector or even an anonymous quidam – and for any kind of purpose.

Step 2: Private data is not public data

I find important to differentiate between private and public data. When I heard about open data, I felt my privacy instantly threatened. However, opening public data poses no threat to my privacy.
Take the example of cadastral plans, they are available on request. A formal petition to the right administrative service would provide you the info. Opening cadastral plans merely mean saving people working with it the time necessary for the administrative hurdle.

In other words public data is often already available through an administrative process and in an inconvenient format. Opening public data mostly signifies processing and editing them in a convenient format and leaving them in a digital library. Opening public data is about creating a digital library, allowing people to find them without the administrative process.

Private data is one’s individual data, for example, the data-gathered by your period application, your MBudget card, your mobile phone’s GPS tracking. This data is usually under confidentiality.

Opening private data, is not only about making it accessible, but also about editing it, to make sure that it cannot be linked to anyone.

What if open data was beneficial to the community?

Commuting to Geneva, I used to be angry with the CFF, because my Intercity Train was poorly connected to my inter-regio train which lead to me losing 15 to 20 minutes twice a day. Spending 2 hours, 2 hours 30 minutes or 3 hours to commute makes a huge difference. What if the CFF knew that a significant amount of commuters take these same trains as I did? They could delay the train 5 minutes and I would be happier everyday because my travel would be shorter! What if a mobile company shared its data about the mobility of people and made these data available to the CFF? What if I answered the poll? Or better, what if, instead of spending money on a poll, the CFF could access data of commuters? The data quality might be higher and more relevant!

Urbanism: Pully as a case study

The city of Pully is pioneering in the domain with its urban project in collaboration with Swisscom. The project team is analysing the traffic – car, public transportation, bike or pedestrian – based on data provided by Swisscom’s mobile network. (More info in French about this project).
The city of Pully saved the investment necessary for a poll and had reliable data available. Processed to be anonymized, this kind of data is not a threat to my privacy. In this case, opening the data is beneficial to the whole community.
The objective of this project is to develop the urbanisation of the city according to people’s real needs and not to any lobby. It could result in the creation of bike lanes or an improvement of traffic flows.

Pully – Photo Credit l’Avenue Digital Media

Conclusion : open data supports innovation

Sometimes I hear people disagreeing strongly against the concept of open data. I hear fear and threat. The discussion very often goes towards an emotional level rather than staying pragmatic. I find it difficult to rationally fight against emotional argument. First of all, I wish people against open data could make the difference between public and private data. Opening public data means the digitalisation of an already existing public data, ultimately saving public institution’s time.
Secondly, I wish they could realise that sharing information is beneficial to the community. The potential benefit of open data is greater than its threat. Opening data means, processing data, editing and anonymising it to make it available. Open data is the necessary basis of innovation and of a general increase of our quality of life.

At the moment, data can be made available, mostly by investing money (for a poll or negotiating with a company belonging data). In other words, universities, start-ups or associations are restricted to the data they can find or buy. Do we want to live in a world where innovation is driven by companies having the budget to pay for data?

Further Information:

Listen to this podcast, welcoming Pia Waugh, an open data expert and advocate who explains all to Genevieve Jacobs on ABC Radio Canberra.

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Web developer is a dream job? One week to discover

We welcomed Baptiste, 14 years, in our Lausanne Office. One week of “trial internship” to understand what it is to be a dev. What could I teach him in such a short time? Read this post to discover what I organised for him and how it went.

Dev step by step

Baptiste was visiting us to discover the different facets of our job, in view to better know what he wants to do later. This week was a professional orientation internship. Taking this issue very seriously, I have given much thoughts on how to prepare a broad, dense and accessible program.

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Swissquote: How to become a leader in banking in 26 years?

Swissmarketing Vaud invited Jan De Schepper, Head of Marketing at Swissquote. I expected a guide to be a leader in a few simple steps. Highly interesting, this conference actually felt like one of my masterclass.
Report of the conference

SWISSQUOTE, EN 26 ANS, DEVENIR LEADER PAR L’INNOVATION ET LE MARKETING DE CONTENU
Jan de Schepper

At this conference, what I wanted to know was how to become a leader. I expected De Schepper to hand me over the strategic marketing keys to success. The secret recipe for me to make Liip, my entreprise, an absolute leader in web development.
What kind of advice did I get?

Swissquote, a content brand

According to De Schepper, the foundation of a company leaves a significant mark. The founders, Marc Bürki et Paolo Buzzi owned Marvel Communication SA, a company specialized in financial information softwares. Once they figured out that they could provide the services they were talking about, Swissquote became a bank and IPO’d as such on the 29th of May 2000. The focus of Swissquote was on content creation right from the beginning.

A basic brand structure

At Swissquote, they believe that the brand defines who they are and how they act. Their brand structure is actually not original, as it involves a vision and six values.
In De Schepper’s words, a vision is like an Evening Star (Etoile du Berger in French). It is what leads your way.

To be the world’s most pioneering and intuitive online bank.

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TEDxCERN: Don’t be afraid of technology

Technology is just a tool! In one of the most prestigious place for researches, brilliant scientists shared their inspiration during a whole afternoon. Ripples of curiosity was the theme. This is my report of the conference.

Some people travel to visit the CERN, whereas I had never been there. It is not an impressive building lost in the middle of a green field in the countryside of Geneva like I pictured it. It is lost in a suburban area and the building is not high. Rather, it has long, never-ending corridors filled with doors leading to little offices. It’s very quiet, people whispers there. It looks nothing like the big open space that I am used to. However the people I listened too, have the same conviction about their projects.

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Mobile apps – Our 3 best advice for your success

Everyone wants a mobile app that people will own, love and use every day. Before you jump in, ask yourself, and your team, these 3 basic questions to avoid the most common mistakes. This is our guide to help you focus on your strategy and make sure that you invest in a mobile app effective for your business.

1 – What is your objective? – Strategize and test

Do you want a mobile app, because during a meeting, the CEO/CMO/Head of Marketing or whoever proposes ideas you have to follow said ‘we should have one’?
Or because a mobile app seems to be a symbol of innovative, modern or digital enterprises, you want one? Maybe because an app is the symbol of your enterprise taking on the digital turn, you need one?
It is time to rethink.
You should not ‘decide’ to have a mobile app. A mobile app should not be a ‘one shot’, it should be part of a marketing mix, which means, it belongs to a strategy.

Start by focusing on the needs of your business and identify the blockers in the customers’ journey. Ask yourself, what added-value would this app offer your customers. If it is a mere duplication of the content of your website, you should not start developing one.
An app needs a user centric design or is meant to fail. Make sure that the objectives of your mobile app are as clearly as possible defined. Skipping this step is taking the risk of developing something useless and/or having to modify it afterwards.

Keep in mind that the further you are in the project, the more expensive it is to modify. Investing time at the beginning of a project to strategize or, in the best scenario, even test with real users the first wireframes is not wasted time.

2 – Who and where are your customers?

Your app will be effective at its best if it answers your customers need. It is essential to know them and their behavior and where you find them. Then, you will maximise your targeting.

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Rebranding – a symbolic move to recover from an economic downturn?

Swiss marketing Vaud
Conference 2016.04.12
Revamping the Identity of an Iconic Technology Brand: Logitech

Rodrigo Castaňeda, Head of Brand Experience

Logitech

© Atelier Kaïros photos

Logitech’s rebranding was qualified as the most ambitious brand transformation in its 30+ year history’ in the summary of the conference. It was intended to reflect the company’s commitment to design and its transformation into a stronger, multi-category technology brand.
I was particularly interested in listening to Rodrigo Castaňeda and on which perspective he would adopt to explain Logitech’s rebranding. Not only thanks to swissmarketing’s appealing summary but especially because I think that there is nothing challenging like crisis communication or management. In those situations we learn the most and get to understand, in retrospect, from the weight of our decisions. The way a company tells its history is revealing of its essence.

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Death of Spam 2.0?

We don’t like Spam 2.0 and we did our part lately for better declaration of paid stuff. And since last weekend, Google doesn’t like it either and is penalizing webpages, which sell text links or paid reviews. Matt Cutts apparently always warned about selling links without proper usage (like rel=”nofollow), but since the last PageRank update of Google, it looks like it indeed happened (but in general, PageRanks fall and raise all the time and as every other SEO will tell you, is not important anyway :) )

Is this the beginning of the end of Spam 2.0? If you need a high PR to get good money with textlinks, but your PR falls if you do that (and your search engine position with it), it’s maybe a lot less interesting for the average and self-respecting site owner to do it. And if you do it correctly (with rel=”nofollow”), your clients don’t get any linklove anymore and paying for them doesn’t look that attractive anymore …

But maybe it’s just a big plot by Google, so that everyone will use AdSense in the future, since that certainly won’t have any decrease of your PR as consequence (but also doesn’t generate linklove for the advertiser). It’s certainly not only for the love of humankind Google does such things.

Via Markus Tressl

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Enterprise 2.0 Talk

Just as the advent of the Web had a profound impact on the way business is made and deals or done, the concepts under the “Web 2.0” umbrella term (social software, blogs, mashups, all the Ajax glitter etc.) are starting to influence the corporate mindset – even here in good old Switzerland. Or, along the lines of Euan Semple in “The 100% guaranteed easiest way to do Enterprise 2.0”: best thing organisations can do is get out of their employees’ way and let “Enterprise 2.0” happen with the least amount of control possible.

So when Switzerland’s most-hated company (Cablecom, our cable TV monopolist going for quadruple-play ..) came to us and allowed us to apply the lessons learned in our 2.0ish projects in corporate setup, something interesting had to come out for sure.

Now that thing called “Intraweb 2.0” has been presented and discussed in different places already and is going to presented, demoed and scrutinized once more at the upcoming Internet Briefing TechTalk, 2007-05-06 (next week!), 11.15-14.00, Zürich, Zunfthaus zur Schmiden.

The project is going to be presented by the client, but Chregu and me are going to attend as well (maybe you too?), so the entire range of topics should be covered somehow :)

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The first blogcamp Switzerland

Dsc 1141 2

… is over and I had lots of fun, met interesting new people and long-time-no-see “old” friends and had interesting discussions. I went to 2 presentations, the first by Jürg Stucker about namics’ internal multi-blog platform, quite interesting, as we currently build something similar for one of our customers (which was present, as well :) )

The second presentation was by blog.benbit.ch about XSS or as he put it “Wie man sich mit einem Blog unbeliebt macht.” (in English: “how to make oneself unpopular with a blog”). While he’s completely right that XSS is a dangerously underrated security issue and should be taken much more seriously (we blogged about it more than 2 years ago), his tone, arrogance (“at least one third in here will hate me now”) and technical half-knowledge was none the less a little bit annoying. One of his solution “don’t use auto-login” for example just raises the entry-barrier for exploiting XSS issues, but usually doesn’t help anything to prevent them at all. But at least he didn’t claim he’s a technical expert, so I can’t really blame him for that. Nevertheless an entertaining presentation and certainly opened up the eyes of a lot of people in that room, so mission accomplished :)

Now last but not least, a big thanks to the organizers, a well done “unconference”, I’ll be happy to come again next time.

More pictures by me at flickr and by the others and tons of blogposts.

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Following BlogCamp via planet.blogug.ch

Tomorrow, I’ll attend (together with approx. 200 other people) BlogCamp Switzerland. I’m quite curious how that will turn out.

It was suggested to use the tag “blogcampswitzerland” for all posts related to that event, and as planet.blogug.ch does understand and parse tags, you can follow the “show” over there with the URL: http://planet.blogug.ch/tag/blogcampswitzerland

I’ll hopefully also blog from the event, but I don’t promise anything right now :)

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