HighWire attended FutureEverything this week. FutureEverything ‘… is an art, technology and social innovation organisation that runs year-round innovation labs and an annual festival of art, music and ideas – bringing the future into the present.’

With music and presentations from a wide variety of musicians, researchers, professionals and artists choosing between FutureEverything events to attend was extremely difficult. Situated in the Contact Gallery, Oxford Road, Manchester, the first event I attended was the Open Data: Moving the Immovable panel discussion. Introduced by Sarah Hartley of The Guardian William Perrin opened with his views on how to ‘get data out of large public bureaucracies. With four methods entitled The Bulldozer , The Ferret,  The Avalance and The Extraterrestrial method delegates were presented with a number of examples where previously immovable data was either extracted, scraped or freed from large bureaucracies and used in socially important ways.

Following was James Darling of RewiredState who despite technology challenges imparted two useful notes ‘government is bad at computers, let us show you how it is done’ and ‘ask forgiveness not permission’.

Jordan Hatcher a lawyer, academic, and entrepreneur working on Intellectual Property and Internet law issues in the UK and worldwide presented next on ownership in relation to databases. Suggesting three approaches, ‘Ask for Licence’ ‘Copyright as absolute’ and ‘Infringe’, and suggested that databases be presented under ‘Public Domain Licences, Attribution Database Licence or Open Database Licence’. In choosing a licence he suggests that those responsible for the database should consider the reasons behind why they are opening the data.

Finally Eimear Coleman of Barnet Council posed the question of ‘Why are organisations so resistant?’ and suggested a move from the current system of ‘new public management’ to ‘communicative governance’ and to achieve such a movement a ‘fundamental culture change is necessary’. In otherwords there is a need to shift from ‘data ownership mindsets to data custodians’. Highlighting the concern of risk adverse organisations Eimear suggests that strategies must bear in mind the concerns of those involved and at risk of spin. The ‘speedy zealots vs de publik sektor’.

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