Diary Archive 2013

Two Days on the Danube

My home for two nights: the Danubius Hotel from across the Danube (image from their website)

To Budapest for a couple of days this week to take part in two events. First of all, in my role as an advisor to the ePSIplatform, I'm speaking on a panel discussing the status of Public Sector Information in Europe. The attitudes taken by different governments when asked to let their populations have access to the data they, as taxpayers, have already funded varies. This story from Croatia is, sadly, not unique, so the counter arguments have to be repeated. I dare say I'll be citing the example of Transport for London's massive return on investment when they opened their data (details in a Deloitte study conducted as part of the Shalespeare Review).

On my second day in the Hungarian capital I'll be taking part in a W3C Hungary Day and giving a talk I've called What's so great about 5 star data. This is going to be driven mostly by a study I've been working on recently with others into government use of linked open data which has been a very interesting exercise. I need to write up various blog posts when that doc is finally published but the headlines are clear: people who use linked data do so entirely for their own benefit, not for the benefit of others, except where offering linked data is a trivial addition to what they already do.

Hmm … plenty of room for rumination on that one.

An evening at the Bombay Club Restaurant

A short tale of a weird experience for an Englishman in search of an Indian in America.

Automatic Heading Numbering with CSS

This past week included one of those "Doh! How come I didn't know that?" moments. While working on a document with Ivan Herman I discovered that it's possible to automatically add heading numbers to Web pages using CSS. No JavaScript required. Not only that, it's been possible for years.

I wanted to create an easily re-usable stylesheet that I could just link to whenever I wanted to include those 1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.2.1 style headings. Turns out it's really simple.

What Happens If You Drive With Your Caravan Brake On (in France)?

Caravan on a flatbed truck

A tale of caravanning woe though my own stupidity and the help of many people who got us back on the road.

Samos Summit & my Summer Summary 2013

The traditional family portrait at Samos 2013 (last year I was hidden at the back, this year only Vangelis Karkaletsis is between me and organiser Yannis Charalabidis)

Last year I was delighted to be asked to speak at the Samos Summit, an annual event organised by the University of the Aegean that brings together many eGov and open data related projects. This year, through my role as an advisor to the ENGAGE project, the organisers have kindly asked me back. I'll do my best to provide an overview of the topic as an update to last year's Summer Summary.


To Pisa for a couple of days, or rather, a hotel on the beach near Pisa, for the kick off meeting of a new EU funded project, PRELIDA, who have kindly asked me to serve on their advusory board. I don't know the partners in this project so I'm looking forward to making new connections, but I know the subject area - how to create and maintain persistent URIs. The project is broader than that but the basic questions remain - how can you create and maintain electronic data that will persist across decades.

During the meeting in Pisa I'll talk about the Study on Persistent URIs I and others did for the European Commission earlier this year and, I imagine, there will be much discussion of what happens if Dan Brickley goes under a bus.

My 'slides' for this event are really just a collection of links.

(Dublin & Manchester)2

A ridiculous schedule this week! I'm in Dublin on Monday 17th for the first part of the Crossover project's International Conference on Policy Making 2.0. This has been a very interesting project in which I've played a very minor role but have learned a great deal. The use of open data for evidence-based policy making is definitiely something to be encouraged.

On Tuesday I take a bit of a left turn as I head for Manchester for Making Data Work: Cities & Transport. On this occasion my attendance is being funded not by W3C but by Reeep, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, a very interesting organisation based in Austria that is doing seriously good work with linked open data for energy efficiency and climate change mitigation.

Machester again on Wednesday afternoon for an open meeting of the UK Gov Linked Data WG and then it's back to Dublin for the day again on Friday 21st for the SEMIC conference [slides].

Open Data Dag in Vlaanderen

At last year's Using Open Data workshop (PMOD), Noel van Herreweghe was buzzing with the excitment from the successful first Flanders Open Data Day he'd organised the previous week. He kindly invited me to give a keynote speech at the next year's event … which is now upon us.

Tia Sharpe and April Jones are more important than Edward Snowden

The Web privacy and freedom communities are screaming about the revelation that the US intelligence services routinely record details of phone calls, e-mails and other electronic communications. They are, however, silent on the use of the Web to distribute and thereby encourage the production of child abuse material.

I think those priorities are back to front.

Likely Future Directions for (Open) Data at W3C

Earlier this week I gave a talk at Sem Tech Biz in San Francisco that reported on the Open Data on the Web workshop I ran back in April and how that fits in to the likely future work around the topic of (open) data at W3C. Slides on their own only tell you so much so I've created a slidecast version.

(Open) Data on the Web, future directions at W3C. from Phil Archer

Interactive Map of Europe

As is so often the case, I'm working on an EU project proposal at the moment and I want to be able to show the countries covered by the project. To do that I needed a map that I could just click the relevant countries and they'd be filled in, then I could copy and paste that into the proposal. My guess is such tools already exist on the Web but I wanted to make my own.

It needs writing up but it's all working now so I may as well publish it and add the commentary later.

Machine Readable Rights and the News Industry: Opportunities, Standards and Challenges

IPTC logo

Hmm … rights expression languages, how to attach metadata to lots of online resources at once, machine readable metadata … those themes have a familiar ring to them. The IPTC - the membership organisation for news agencies that does a lot of technical standards work including rNews - has invited me* to speak at their event in Amsterdam, something I'm looking forward to. For good reason, licences on the Web are almost synonymous with Creative Commons but how can licences be included in a modern, high capacity workflow? I need to talk to various colleagues and get a full picture of the space but I can't help but think that POWDER just might have a role to play here.

* Actually the invitation first went to Ivan Herman but he passed it to me.

EUROGI imaGIne Conference

EUROGI (European Umbrella Organisation for Geographic Information) logo

My role at W3C means I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about open data (and I wish I had more time to actually do something practical about it/with it to). The role played by geospatial data is critical in this. Obviously there are the base maps, but so many data sets refer to specific locations, regions, postcodes etc. Applications that use open data very often depend on geospatial data. Things like the UK Crime Map are the post-children of the open data movement.

So I'm pleased to have been invited to contribute to the imaGIne conference - an event that provides the first of several trips to Dublin this half year as Ireland is the current holder of the EU Presidency. I'll be reviewing how GI data is currently used on the Web and what we need to do to make it easier.

Happy Birthday Helen

Today is my oldest friend's birthday.

We're Not Like Them

The cover of C J Sansom's novel Dominion

I've just finished a very throught provoking book: C J Sansom's Dominion. By coincidence, this week saw the UK Independence Party gain its highest poll rating in a Westmister byelection. Scarily the two go together.

On Turning 50

2013-02-19 — a date of staggering unimportance except that it happens to be the day on which I have a zero at the end of my age.

A New Image

The new image, taken by Wendy Bailey on 2012-10-27The photo I've used for 10 years

I've used the same picture as my online image/avatar since it was taken, I think in 2003. Hmm … maybe it's time to update it. This new one was taken on Saturday at a reunion for staff of Radio Orwell. Photo credit is due to Wendy Bailey.

I suppose I ought to update relevant pages now in different corners of the Web. Gah! But hey … I kept the same URI and the images are identical in size so where the old was was referred to rather than copied, it's just been updated automatically.

And be honest — you don't look the same as you did 10 years ago either.

Science Fiction First Editions

Stephen Baxter <i>Raft</i> first edition, Grafton books 1991

It's hardly surprising that someone who makes a living as a techie enjoys reading science fiction novels — but I've got a thing about not just the novels but their first editions … and having complete sets of them.

DanBri's Bus and the Fate of FOAF

Dan Brickley and a bus — what could possibly go wrong?

Just what would happen if Dan Brickley fell under a bus? It's a question that comes up a lot.

Study on Persistent URIs

At the end of last year I worked with the team at PwC to study how different public authorities were tackling the creation and publication of URI sets designed to be persistent over the long term. This is a crucial part of the open data infrastructure and different countries have gone about it in slightly different ways although there is a lot of commonality - which is reassuring. The original document is published as a PDF on the EC's Joinup Platform. I wanted a Web version …

The EC Open Data Portal (Beta)

The EC quietly made the beta version of its data portal public on the night before Christmas. I took a quick look.