When Open Data meets Show and Tell

(this is a proposal for a talk and related workshop that I submitted for a conference that took place in autumn 2013. The proposal was accepted but eventually didn’t happen due to lack of funding for travel expenses. Since the idea is not tied to that specific event in any way, here it is)

Young people have always been critical of politics and public institutions in general. This, of course, is absolutely natural and even necessary, to a degree.

Today, however, more and more young people don’t see anymore politics and public administrations simply as awkwards dinosaurs, made excessively complex just for complexity’s sake. These (lost) citizens seem to have already concluded that no form of change, participation or dialogue with “institutions” could ever be remotely interesting or relevant for their lives and future, even if it were just to find a job. This is a terrible waste of energies for society.

The talk suggests one part of the solution to this problem: promote the systematic use and production of Open Data in High Schools.

The talk, which is an updated, more detailed version of a proposal first launched in 2011 and also tested at the 2013 Open Data Week, explains with practical, real world examples:

  • how using and producing Open Data in class may help to mitigate anti-government sentiment and image among young people, showing them that government can’t really be as simple as they sometime imagine

  • how to make students understand (and, when possible, take part into) policy development, through social media and other channels

  • how all this is possible in traditional school activities, that is without turning existing curricula and teaching practices upside down

  • how to involve teachers very gradually, on a voluntary basis, without relying on large scale, expensive programs