Tag Archives: odcamp5

Open Data Horror Stories: 2017 Edition

There’s a tendency to focus on personal data as the major risk of open data. But there has to be more than that.

ODI Devon has made a policy of holding its meetings around the county. This avoids everything becoming Exeter-centric, but there is a cost to hiring the meeting rooms, and as they publish their spending as open data, it’s led to some criticism.

Continue reading Open Data Horror Stories: 2017 Edition

Open Data Camp 5: weekend arrangements

Open Data Camp is returning for a fifth time this coming weekend, 21st and 22nd October 2017.

This time, the Open Data Camp charabanc will be visiting the lovely city of Belfast, in Northern Ireland.

The purpose of this post is to provide details for attendees.


At Queen’s University Belfast, in the Computer Science building

View Larger Map

See the Travel and Accommodation page for information on getting to Belfast from other parts of the UK and Ireland, and where to stay.


For those arriving on Friday, there’s an optional walking tour in the afternoon. There are a limited number of places, so please sign up [here]

For those who have registered for the walking tour, we will be meeting at the gates of Queen’s university at 4:30pm, and the tour lasts about 1.5 hrs.

On Friday evening, a few people will be meeting at The Duke of York from 6pm. Nothing formal, just turn up if you feel like it.

Weekend arrangements


Registration will be from 9:30am on Saturday, and 10am on Sunday. There’s no need to print your ticket, as we’ll check you in using Eventbrite. There will be tea, coffee and pastries available on arrival


At a glance

Day Registration from Welcome Lunch Last session finishes Close
Saturday 9:30am 10am 12:15-1:15pm 4:30pm 5pm
Sunday 10am 10:30am 1-2pm 3:15pm 3:45pm

There will be two sessions in the morning, and three in the afternoon on both days.

Tea, coffee and cakes will be available mid-afternoon on both days.


A light lunch is being provided onsite, and there will be vegetarian options (at least 30%). We haven’t catered for special dietary requirements, but if you have a more specific need, please let us know in advance and we’ll try to help.

Final sessions

We aim to finish the last session by about 4.30pm on Saturday and 3:15pm on Sunday.

Evening social

Networking continues on Saturday evening, and we will be gathering at The Bear and the Doll from about 6:30pm. Remember to bring your lanyard in the evening, as there will be a (not inexhaustible) tab for Open Data Camp-ers. There will also be a snack buffet laid on (but please don’t come expecting a full meal!)

A view from inside The Bear and Doll

Never attended an Unconference before?

If you’ve never attended an unconference before, you may be wondering what on earth to expect. Unlike traditional conferences, unconferences have no pre-defined agenda, and instead attendees ‘pitch’ session ideas to each other at the beginning of the event. These ideas are then written on post-it notes, which are assigned to vacant slots on a session grid, and that becomes the agenda.

For a more detailed (and much better) explanation, and links to more information, take a look at Unconference in a Box, compiled by James Cattell.

Our Volunteers

If you need anything at the weekend, or have a question, look out for people wearing maroon hoodies emblazoned with the Open Data Camp logo. Maroon-hoodie-wearers (Volunteers) have all given up their time for free, and will do their best to help you.

If you are a volunteer and haven’t already seen it, please take a look at Pauline Roche’s blog post Volunteers and Open Data Camp.

A massive thank you to everyone who has volunteered to help plan and run Open Data Camp. I won’t list everyone in this post – you already know who you are.

Our Sponsors

As you will already be aware, Open Data Camp is free to attend. That wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of forward-thinking organisations who help cover the costs associated with holding a large event.

If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to look at our sponsors’ web sites, and show your appreciation in person, or on Twitter.

Join us on Slack




Would you like to run a session at Open Data Camp? That’s awesome. Here are a few tips.

Whether you have been to an unconference or not, we are thrilled you would like to run a session at Open Data Camp! Many attendees reach out to us beforehand asking if a topic is suitable or not, and how to best run the session. After years of feedback and experiments, what we know is that we don’t want Open Data Camp to be too strict about formats. We’ve seen all types of sessions: conversations, presentations, panels, “unkeynotes” (a posthumous definition), debates (I had something akin to a – friendly – boxing match with Jeni Tennison last year!).

If you still have doubts, the short story is simple and based on two broad tips:

1) have some ideas ready beforehand, summarise these in a short pitch on the morning, adjust according to feedback

2) the Law of Two Feet is your master: people might go if the session isn’t what they were expecting, and that is good.

Don’t worry about attendees numbers or about rehearsing to give the talk of your life. An unconference isn’t TED. I’ve once been the only attendee in a BarCamp session about 3D printing your own CT Scans (a bit creepy, I know), and I still remember what I learnt.

Open Data Camp is all about discussions, so please imagine your session with a major conversational component. However, attendees often ask if they can bring a presentation. After loads of discussions and past experiments, we have decided that we don’t want to discourage people who come with a prepared slide-deck, but we have some caveats:

1) first of all, we cannot guarantee projectors or screens at the camp, so please make sure your presentation can work without slides, or by showing them on your laptop

2) try and limit the frontal presentation to about 10 minutes and imagine it as a kickstarter for a discussion; Gavin Freeguard did this amazingly at Open Data Camp 4 with his “Tale of two datasets”

3) alternatively, use your slides as a prompt for the discussion, and have something to engage in an exchange every slide or two; John Murray with his legendary sessions about LIDAR, or Alasdair Rae with his great session on gaining insight from mapping are good examples to follow.

Photo CC BY-SA Adam Tinworth

Tell people honestly what you would like to do and ask them what they expect: your sessions needn’t be a monologue worth of George Bernard Shaw, it is ok to have an unpolished set of ideas and present them as they come. Think, however, that alternatives to presentation are often better received. The aforementioned debate between me and Jeni Tennison was pitched on the day out of a random conversation, and it was entertaining for us to hold it as well as for the over 40 attendees that turned up. If you prefer a conversation that doesn’t involve defending positions, that is fine too: make sure you allow all opinions to be expressed in full.

Of course, you might want to have some support. If you fear you might not be able to stop someone speaking for too long, for example, talk to us beforehand and we’ll send you one of our lovely campmakers. All a campmaker will do is to ensure that the session allows everyone some space, and that no one takes over without reason. Equally, if you want someone to take notes at the session, please let us know so we can send a note-taker or arrange for the notes to be broadcast on our blogs.

If you have any question, please do not hesitate to get in touch!