Gone But Not Forgotten

Hello, you've landed on DATA eh? - Open Data Toronto's original blog space for data discussions. This is not an active blog at the moment but legacy posts are still here. Have a read ... you can still provide comments.

Friday, October 21, 2011

DATA eh? interviews Trish Garner, Manager, Web Strategy, Information & Technology City of Toronto

By the DATA eh? team
DATA eh?: Hi Trish, you are listed on the blog as an author but, today, we want to speak to you in your role as an Open Data champion and strategist for the City of Toronto. Rather than interview yourself, we thought we'd pose some questions for you.


DATA eh?: Tell us why DATA eh? is important to you?

TG: Our Open Data initiative has been around going on two years. We've been hearing from communities beyond the developers and users of Open Data, that we need to provide bridges between the technical and the casual. Kind of like allowing more room for discussion by the users vs. the creators of applications – hence a spot to have conversations and provide links to interesting outcomes around City of Toronto data.

DATA eh?: Aren't they two very different audiences?

TG: Yes, very much so and I'd even add a third: people who understand what Open Data is all about but aren't interested in using it directly but agree it's good.

DATA eh?: And all of these people are going to engage?

TG: Probably not but we realize we have to start somewhere in extending dialogue. To date, we've seen great pick up from our @Open_TO twitter account but, again, that's from the developer community mostly. We think, if you have any curiosity about data, or Open Government even, you will get something out of a City of Toronto space allowing for conversations and information sharing. A large part of the success or failure will be around readers diving in and helping to set a direction.

DATA eh?: We've often heard you say that Open Data is messy. Is this a part of that sentiment?

 TG: Yes, very much so. We learned early in that waiting for the perfect data set or perfect presentation wasn't a good thing. We heard very loudly from the developer community to just keep on keeping on in getting data out early and often. We also learned that we shouldn't expect to be the only people involved in figuring it all out. We think the DATA eh? space can solidify organically. We created the space but didn't want to spend endless hours meeting around every possible aspect of what it is or could become. Let's push it out and see.

DATA eh?: And if no one comes?

TG: Now, don't be negative! Seriously, we've always taken from the get go around Open Data that we want to be positive and see things half full. We take any interaction as valuable be it one or a thousand and one. We'll never know what forum or space is going to have take-up unless we try. To anyone reading this right now, join in and comment and let us know what you think this "sandbox" can be.

DATA eh?: We are calling DATA eh? a sandbox to meet, play, chat and crunch data. So, here is the spot to chat?

TG: Exactly, on the main DATA eh? page, we are pushing links to City of Toronto content that leverages data. We'll also be adding news items to things of interest – not only ours. And, we really hope to have spots of content where anyone interested can play around with data to see what comes up. We want them to use the same data we use and help frame conclusions. All in all, we see the entire DATA eh? presence as a spot for people to meet up (at least virtually) and see where it goes from there. We know many readers are just passive participants – they may not comment or overtly engage but we still want them to get value out of this Open Data revolution!

DATA eh?: We've learned to keep things shorter rather than longer, so we'll continue our conversation in a future post. You good with that?

TG: Indeed, in fact I'd like to come back soon with some information on the G4 initiative between us at the City of Toronto and Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver. We're not alone in Open Data.

DATA eh?: Sweet. Thanks Trish.

DATA eh? # 2

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