[@OKau] After the hackathon: 4 classic recipes

Craig Thomler craig.thomler at gmail.com
Sat May 9 03:46:53 UTC 2015


I've also considered becoming a Buddhist nun - though I obviously don't
meet the criteria - I'm not Buddhist.

There's some options through universities to take up grants which could be
used peripherally to work on open data. There's also the Churchhill
Fellowship, which could be used to fund an exploration of overseas use of
open data (I thought about it, but having kids & preferring not to live on
the poverty line directed me away from it).

Realistically the best route is to find an employer who sees commercial
value in supporting open data initiatives and convince them to employ you -
it is working for Maxious, and there's some consulting firms like Deloittes
doing things here too. Whether this is selling out varies by degrees on the

There's also the option of starting a business that leverages open data
into profit - there's a selection of start-ups in the US & UK who are
managing this to various degrees, but they exist in ecosystems with
substantially more comprehensive open data, more sophisticated investment
environments and clear political support which doesn't threaten to turn off
the data tap with a change of government.

Australia is less mature in all these respects, so the road would be much
harder - but that doesn't mean impossible if you have a workable idea.




Craig Thomler


*Mobile:* 0411 780 194 (*International:* +61 411 780 194)
*Phone:* 02 6161 4508 (*International: *+61 2 6161 4508)
*Skype:* craig.thomler

On 1 May 2015 at 16:51, Cobi Alison Smith <cobi.smith at unimelb.edu.au> wrote:

>  +1
>  I earn nothing working in/researching open technologies compared to when
> I worked as a management consultant (cue tiny violin) or even when I worked
> in a charity.
>  But seriously, it's not sustainable. I was funded (a "volunteer"
> allowance) through AusAID most of 2013; that opportunity literally doesn't
> exist now. Half of last year I was on EU research & tech dev funding...
> obviously can't do that from Australia. After my PhD I have no idea what
> happens.
>  It will be interesting if I have to decide between selling out (cue
> people like Steven rolling eyes, fair enough) or running away from
> Australia to live as a Buddhist nun. They're equally appealing at this
> point. Or move to another country again - brain drain - which is
> realistically most likely.
>  I've said this before but third time's the charm maybe... Rosie you
> should apply for a Shuttleworth Fellowship :)
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* okfn-au [okfn-au-bounces at lists.okfn.org] on behalf of Rosie
> Williams [budgetaus at hotmail.com]
> *Sent:* Friday, 1 May 2015 10:48 AM
> *To:* okfn-au at lists.okfn.org
> *Subject:* [@OKau] After the hackathon: 4 classic recipes
>   BudgetAus and the resulting input into budget transparency can be seen
> as an outcome of GovHack given that BudgetAus (as it was originally
> conceived and implemented) began by using the csv created during what I
> suspect was the original GovHack event. As a programming student I was
> seeking data with suitable copyright conditions for publication in my first
> database. That is how I happened across the concept of open data and came
> across the GovHack project created by theopenbudget.org.
>  In fact, that csv (containing data scraped from about half the federal
> portfolios) was my first ever look at a 'table' and from there I went on to
> create my own data set encompassing all portfolios and broken down to the
> finest grain to make the data searchable across all portfolios. At the time
> the existing app created during GovHack did not provide this. The team that
> did theopenbudget.org was then employed to create the CSV (according to
> BudgetAus specs) for last year's first ever publication of budget data in
> machine readable format.
>  The point of this all though in my mind, is the improvement to
> government accounting that has been put in motion as a result of these
> combined efforts:
>  - the first publication of budget data in usable formats including a
> machine readable version that made it possible to use the data in BudgetAus
> and other similar projects. Without the csv which contained all the data
> broken down to line item level, the data would only have been published in
> 173 separate excel files.
> - the budget office has been asked to publish MYEFO data in usable formats
> and broken down along the same lines as the data published on budget night
> ie broken down to line item level so that it can be integrated with
> existing data
> - submissions have also been sought from people such as myself working
> with budget data into the PMRA and Joint Committee of Public Accounts &
> Audit on specifications for the publication of financial reporting
> including annual reports due to networks built among people working outside
> government on budget data.
>  These are not insignificant outcomes, however I suspect they would never
> have come about had I not worked constantly and continually on budget
> transparency through BudgetAus since it's inception. I have done this to
> date without any financial support and under the most difficult of
> conditions which brings the topic back around to sustainability of open
> data projects and the need for incubators and other support. Had I been in
> the position of most other people with similar skills, I'd have obtained a
> professional position & decided I could not afford time to work on a
> 'volunteer' project. None of the existing or potential outcomes would have
> occurred. This irony is not lost on me.
>  While budget transparency (and the expertise in government spending that
> I gained) is invaluable to our democracy - which is why the project
> received both government & media support, this value is not easily
> monetised. I have recently reconceived BudgetAus to be a more marketable
> product with a defined target market using grants and tenders data rather
> than the 'top down' data published on budget night in recognition of this
> observation.
>  For open data projects to survive beyond the hackfest stage, there
> either needs to be sufficient market value to them to attract backing or
> sufficient public engagement to underpin ongoing funding, infrastructure
> and labour. Code for Australia and the Open Data Institute in QLD are
> presumably striving to fill the void in supporting/incubating emerging open
> data projects. The NSW State Library DX Lab (launching in a few months)
> also aims to nurture open data projects. I think that if we want quality,
> sustainable open data projects then we need to build an ecosystem where
> open data projects need not rely so heavily on the volunteer labour of
> coders.
> Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)
> ________________________________________
>   NoFibs.com.au <http://nofibs.com.au> - Open Data Reporter
>  InfoAus.net <http://infoaus.net> - Founder and Developer
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