Partner Opportunity: Arts Open Data Wiki

We’re looking for a partner to help us make a public database of UK arts and cultural open data.

What’s the Project?

The project has two parts:

1)   Creating a comprehensive list of UK arts and cultural open data sources

2)   Creating an editable website or wiki and publishing the list of open data sources

We’d like the site to be easy to read, easy to edit, and attractive to look at. It should also categorise content through a tagging system. We expect each entry will have a title, a short description of the content, a link to the API and detail data fields, formats, standards and data-set access interfaces.

The project is being funded by an Open Data Innovation Voucher from the Technology Strategy Board. The voucher is for £5,000 and it must be spent with someone (either a company or a sole trader) that we have not previously worked with.

You will need experience of creating lovely, simple websites, an understanding of open data and a good knowledge of the UK arts and cultural sector.

If this sounds like you, please email a short document (no more than one A4 side) telling us about your work and how you intend to approach the project to before 5pm Wednesday 11 September.

Tattoos, Makers and Data Visualisation

Maker Faire tattoosWe approached to MakerFaire with a spirit of enquiry, wanting to gather data about the community of makers attending, asking “What kind of skills do visitors to Maker Faire have?”. The tricky bit was gathering this data in an interesting way. Could we make doing a survey genuinely fun for everyone involved?

We thought we could ask people to create ‘a badge of identity’ as an output to filling in a short questionnaire about their maker skills. We made temporary tattoos, designed by Wes West, so people could brand themselves within three categories – Physical Making, Digital Making and Electronics.  Physical making was represented by a molecule diagram of cellulose, computer making by a binary table and electronics by an electron moving between electrons. Keen participants could indicate their level of mastery with an army-style three bar system.Maker tattoo keyWe applied them to arms, hands, necks, ankles, even a midriff, and you could spy them all over the faire. Indeed, seeing them everywhere brought people to seek out our rather tucked-away stand in one of the corners of the building, and yes, fill out the survey. Their previously invisible skills were now on display for all to see.

Geek CodeThe tattoos were inspired by Geek Code, letters and symbols used by self-described “geeks” to inform fellow geeks about their personality, appearance, interests, skills and opinions. Other geeks can read the geek code and discover what the writer looks like, what interests they have, and so forth. This is deemed to be efficient in a sufficiently geeky manner.

The gold standard for interactive activities at live events is to design something that passers by can see, quickly parse, and get drawn in by. By looking at it, they’ll understand it and want to participate. Simon Katan built us a colourful, gently spinning diagram which highlighted both relative numbers of people ticking different categories, and particularly strong connections between them. It was important that it updated in real time, so each person could see the change they had made to the sum total of the data. By the end of the day the diagram had become gloriously tangled; to see the spinning diagram in action, go here.Caper diagram end of daySo what did we learn?

The top skills at Makerfaire were soldering, closely followed by coding. Circuit design, sewing, and interface design chased each other for third place throughout the day.

Having a write-in ‘other’ field in each of the three categories triggered some really interesting conversations – especially with those who weren’t comfortable calling themselves Makers. So many people said ‘I’m not a maker but…’ ‘I suppose I’ve re-plumbed and rewired my house’, ‘I grind my own telescope lenses’, ‘Does making your own furniture count?’. There’s a divide in people’s minds between making you do because something needs doing, and making for its own sake, as a hobby.

Kids especially loved the tattoos, and choosing them and filling in the survey with parents triggered some interesting inter-generational conversations.

And finally, having the live visualisation made the process of gathering data feel like a two way transaction, not an imposition. Asking people to join in feels quite different from asking people to give something away.stef-and-kids

Photo credits: image 2 by Rain Rabbit, other images by the Caper team.

Caper brings Maker Code to Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Faire


We’re going to be at Maker Faire on Saturday!

Maker Faire has grown up to be a celebration of a culture of prototyping, trying things out, and having fun with technology. Stallholders get a chance to show off what they’ve made, and it will be full of great things to see and people to talk to. However, one of the most interesting things that unites the visitors – their skills and the things they make – is largely invisible when they’re in the room.

So, we’re curious to find out what skills people have, and will be asking everyone to contribute to a group dataset – think of it as a Geek Code for Makers. You’ll be able to join in on our stand, and your data will become part of a live visualisation by digital artist Simon Katan that will build up over the course of the day.

There are also tattoos. Temporary ones of course, but if you’d like to show the room what you can do, this is your chance. Kudos to anyone who can tell us what each symbol is and why.

Entry to Maker Faire is free as long as you register, so see you there.

Maker Faire Tattoos