After the Digital Agenda Assembly in Brussels

1,300 participants, 24 parallel workshops and several plenary sessions made up the Digital Agenda Assembly held in Brussels on 16 and 17 June, to which we were invited as a result of the Museu Picasso’s co-organizing of Europeana hackathons. The discussions gave rise to a wealth of proposals for ways of improving Europe’s digital ecosystem and making it more open, innovative and competitive. In a nutshell: more content, more accessible. This means ‘content’ in the dual sense of creating new material and digitizing existing, and ‘accessible’ in the broadest sense of the term, capable of being accessed, understood, co-created and reused by users in open and interoperable systems. Transparency, innovation and openness were the key concepts of the get-together.

Among the topics studied, there was a lot of discussion of Open data and re-use of public sector information; Interoperability and standards; Cibersecurity; Social networks, a driver for economic and political change; e-Learning; e-inclusion; Wireless innovation; Future digital economy; the Digital Single Market; the Digital Agenda for local and regional development.

Model form for defining objectives and proposed actions used in each of the 24 workshops and discussion groups

This is a list of some of the insights and proposals fished out of the ocean of ideas you can dive into via the links to the discussion groups and the summing-up:

– Open data is a digital application of democracy that will fuel a major share of growth and jobs creation (S. Naudet)

– The Public Administration often publishes information but not data, so it’s not easy to produce statistics, maps or mobile apps (Tommy Kaas)

– If you provide a platform for data, apps will arise (Harry Verwayen)

– The real challenge is unlocking the data in machine-readable formats (José Luis Marín)

The Power of Open: Open Data, Licenses, Standards, Public Data Principles

– With ICT, social media and eGovernment we are moving towards a more personalized world (Richard Wilson)

– ICT creates two jobs for every job lost (Neelie Kroes)

– We have to mobilize the money for high-speed broadband investments (Neelie Kroes)

– As industries and governments put more and more content online, the gap separating those not online gets bigger (Robert Madelin)

– Promote face-to-face interactions to build a community; build a (local) market for apps using open data (Simon Chignard)

– Standardized copyright licensing and interconnected databases (ICT & Management of Creative Content workshop)

– Promote digital talent and capacity building for social innovation. User-centric design of technology and services

The Social Networks workshop, one of the liveliest and most participatory (as it was bound to be!)

– Data protection: the authorities should work directly with Social Networks to create a common format for Terms of Service Agreements

– Standardized copyright licensing + interconnected databases

– Create a training programme for policy makers on the use of social media and a code of practice (this proposal proved extremely popular!)

Open Cities: in practice, bottom-up, because the market demands it, because the hackers are impatient and because the innovation agents are pushing for it (Katalin Gallyas

Graphic interpretation of the Digital Agenda discussion, done live by a illustrator

The Digital Agenda Assembly also hosted the awards ceremony for the four winning projects at the Europeana Hackathons staged in London, Stockholm, Poznan and Barcelona. This last was held in the Museu Picasso, so we shared the stage and the microphones with the other organizers and winners. The awards were given by the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes.

Our congratulations, once again, not just to the winners but to all of the participants, whose projects demonstrated so much talent and creativity in using technology to bring the contents of museums and libraries closer to users.

TimeBook, the winning project by Luca Chiarandini and Eduardo Graells, which was created at the Hackathon in the Museu Picasso, is a sort of Facebook for historical figures that combines data from Europeana, DBPedia and Wikiquotes.

I’d like to end on a personal note. It had been a long time since I attended a European get-together — the last being the Eurocities Culture Forum, where I was representing Barcelona. Now as then, I came away with a strong sense of having debated issues of real interest and of having shared ideas and passionate commitment with colleagues from other countries, which was energizing in itself. But at the same time there was a certain feeling that all of these Europe-wide structures (too wide maybe?), are quite far away from local realities. So it comes down to extrapolating the many good ideas and conclusions and downloading them from the European scale to our most immediate sphere. And, in turn, to trusting that the relevant political structures will implement some of the measures that emerged. As noted: ‘If the Digital Agenda does not “go local” then it fails.’ The museums and the heritage sector in general have a lot to contribute here.

Conxa Rodà
Project Manager

Related Links

The first ever Digital Agenda by Neelie Kroes

Europe’s Digital Agenda Assembly: A conference fit for a continent’s future? by Martin Bryant

Big idea, big support by Dominic Young

Every Woman Digital = Smart Growth by Eva Fabry

Dades del Twitter de la Digital Agenda (hashtag: #daa11eu)

1 Comment
  • Ana Buenacasa
    June 22, 2011

    Really interesting. I think it would be a good idea to split data up in a way they could be added to most mobile devices. Was there anybody talking on the necessity to agree on how to do it?

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