back to article Open Data Institute pours golden £10m shower on upstarts

The Open Data Institute has launched with a taxpayer-funded £10m pot to turn the government’s public information dumps into something tangible. Or that's the promise. Based at Silicon Roundabout in London’s Shoreditch, the group is headed by web daddy Tim Berners-Lee and artificial intelligence professor Nigel Shadbolt. The …


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  1. LinkOfHyrule

    Golden Shower

    Any excuse! You lot are worst than me! Honestly!

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Golden Shower

      but we're used to getting p*ssed on by government...

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        Re: Golden Shower

        We should all get tested for hepatitis then as a precaution - I do not mean to cast accusations or anything here but we're being pissed on by Torries and Liberals and they have a bit of a reputation for certain "things"!

  2. HollyHopDrive

    I think one of the main problems that has made all this open data a.bit worthless is a lack of access to granular information. It's all either too summarised or just lack detail or its just crap. Also, some data is.provided in wildly different formats and detail level from different authorities. It needs somebody with some decent vision to make useful datasets available and in a timely and ideally almost real time level.

    We can but hope that this isn't more wasted money achieving nothing........

    1. Kevin7

      Have to agree - the quality of the data I've seen is pretty crap and I have no idea how you re-purpose it into something useful. It has the hallmarks of Government bullshit stamped all over it.

  3. Craig 33

    "warning: PDF - yes, we thought it was all about "open data", too"

    There's nothing wrong with using a PDF as far as open data goes. PDF has been 'free' since 2001. There are a host of non-adobe supplied readers. The Free Software Federation Europe points to some here:

  4. John Styles

    I'm sorry, my rage sensitive spectacles have triggered

    The screen's gone black.

  5. Joseph Lord

    Distraction tactics

    £10M is nothing for the government to spend to be able to claim that they have a growth and innovation strategy and that they support openness while actually doing absolutely nothing useful for the economy or government accountability.

    On this scale the project is a fairly harmless little quango (weren't they going to get rid of those) but I have a feeling that the government will try to pretend this amounts to plan for the UK economy which would be a laughable suggestion

    Does anyone know if the AI Professor involved is one of the sensible and useful ones or the lunatic fringe (not necessarily Captain Cyborg crazy but a little bit beyond the realistic)?

    1. Nick Gibbins

      Re: Distraction tactics

      I've been working with Nigel Shadbolt for a little over a decade - he's a pragmatist.

      1. Joseph Lord

        Re: Distraction tactics


        Thanks, that is slightly promising that it might not be a complete waste of time/money. I feared the government might have got someone keener on PR than actual work.

  6. Nick Gibbins

    OP misses the point

    "There’s also talk of W3C participation, something the taxpayer already got for free thanks to the fact TBL is actually the standards group’s director."

    I believe that you've misunderstood both the nature of the W3C and the role of W3C Director. TimBL's involvement with ODI doesn't give it a free ride with respect to participation in W3C activities; as Director, he assesses consensus within the Consortium, but it's the members (ie. member organisations) of W3C that have the vote.

  7. Peter Galbavy

    modern day "jobs for the boys"

    This is just a way of moving £10m (plus the rest - you think they will stop at £10m ?) - into the pockets of those who have demonstrated friendship and support to the regime. If they were really interested in the genuine opening up of public data then there are far better ways and some of those go ahead "for free" in spite of, not with the help if, the government.

    1. Nick Gibbins

      Re: modern day "jobs for the boys"

      ODI is a continuation of work that began under the Labour government; at Southampton, we've been working with the Cabinet Office on open public sector information since 2006, if not earlier. Much of the work planned for ODI had previously been planned for the ill-fated Web Science Institute. WSI had been promised funding to the tune of £30M by the Labour government ( ), but that was withdrawn by the incoming coalition ( ).

      Does that count as "friendship and support to the regime"?

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  9. John Diffenthal

    I'm not sure what you mean by open data - is it the incidence of supermarket trolleys found in car parks or waterways? If that's the case it is no wonder that is in wildly different formats.

    I have had some contact with Transparency data and that has recommended data formats and file formats provided by Socitm and the LGA. That isn't to say that Transparency data is useful. Fraudsters have been able to use some of the data to generate income for themselves ( but I think their activity is regarded as an unintended consequence rather than an objective of the exercise.

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