CPH Week 4

The past and last full week in Copenhagen was a busy one, filled with appointments and presentations.

I started Tuesday, after discussing a workshop with a Dutch client for next month, with preparing a presentation for the Danish Ministry of Housing, Urban and Rural Affairs (MBBL), that I gave later that afternoon. The Danish government has announced a major open data release, with wanting to stimulate growth and innovation as a key part of the rationale behind it. Now, all the general research makes that growth highly likely, but how do you actually on an operational level make sure the right conditions are there for it to happen? And what is the role of public sector bodies on that highly operational level? This was a timely request by the MBBL for me to talk about, as it is helping me to further frame open data as a change management issue. That is exactly what is currently needed to help me set up The Green Land, my / our open data consulting start-up.

In between I finally got around to some reading, absorbing John Robb’s ‘Brave New War‘, ‘The Innovator’s DNA‘ (Christensen) and Lane Becker’s ‘Get Lucky‘ (triggered by our dinner with him earlier this month) in parallel. As usual in my mind they are all very much connected, and if you look closely at my MBBL presentation above you will see traces of it in the slides.

Early Wednesday morning I met up with Pedro Parraguez Ruiz, at the welcoming Paludan. He’s a PhD looking at open innovation networks and ecosystems, trying to see if social network analysis and other aspects can be fruitfully applied to it. Pedro described most existing open innovation set-ups as being too transactional in their focus, creating closed groups that treat the network as just another asset. Saying that ‘the long tail of university held patents’ is just wasted (as in, not exploited, but also not open to build upon), he wondered what would happen if you put open design thinking at the core of the scientific and university process. Made me think of some of the discussion triggered by Elsevier’s Michael Habib on scientific reputation building in Düsseldorf in 2009, and some of the good presentations at last week’s FabLab Toulouse conference. Later that day in Fredriksberg I had another stimulating conversation with another PhD, Thorhildur Jetzek Hansdottir. She is looking into (economic) modeling of open data impacts. Again here there was a tension between ‘classic’ structures and networked structures in creating value. It helped me formulate a bit more clearly where I think the transition from social transactions to monetized transactions takes place, and that rather than treating ‘social activity’ and ‘economic activity’ as separate domains, economic activity is a subset of social activity where monetization becomes sort-of a proxy for social distance or trust differences in a network. At the end of the day I was interviewed for the Dutch magazine Vice Versa on the potential and role of open data for international development aid, as part of their ‘Smart Aid Debate’. A very thought provoking day, all in all.

New Subway Construction
Subway construction in Frederiksberg

Dansk IT, the Danish association for IT professionals, had invited me to give a presentation on open data potential on Thursday. I spent most of the day preparing the talk, rearranging some of the arguments I used on Tuesday for the MBBL session for this private sector audience’s context. Basically the presentations for MBBL and Dansk IT are two sides of the same story, as public sector and private sector need each other to really create open data impact. Cathrine Lippert of the Digitaliseringsstyrelsen first explained the Danish open data steps, and then I tried to put that in a broader context of public sector information re-use in Europe.

Room filling up Cathrine Lippert presenting
Room filling up at Dansk IT and Cathrine Lippert presenting Danish OGD steps

Friday I met up with Simon of KL7 who has volunteered to organize the next Copenhagen Data Drinks on 28 November. KL7, housed in the great SOHO co-working facility, have a very interesting approach in using data to shape narratives and interaction between stakeholders, and it was an inspiring meeting with Simon and his colleague Mikkel. Good observations on how to link-up this (open) data work, with things like Sensemaking, and the bridge to social media, which inspired some new insights in how I can combine those various aspects of my work and interests. I certainly aim to continue our conversation.

Elmine and I explored the hip Jaegersborggade in Nørrebro, which is in the process of (early) gentrification: hipsters taking over the shops, rising prices for the small apartments, and people with Macs working in the corner café, but drug dealing taking place in the open and signs in the shop windows warning burglars that there is no money or computer worth stealing inside. In 2009 we bought some cool ceramics in Copenhagen, and now found the artisan who made them, Inge Vincents, in this street. So we added a few items to our collection.

SOHO Reception Thinware, Inge Vincents ceramics
SOHO, and Inge Vincents ceramics

Also accepted invitations to speak on open data in Dublin and contribute to the Open Innovation Festival in Leeuwarden (NL) next month.

The weekend brought freezing temperatures but also clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. Saturday we visited our friends Henriëtte and Thomas and their daughter Penny in Helsingør, right on time to see Coworking boat PAN, of which we are shareholders, being lifted from the water for the winter. Hanging out together was fun and relaxing, so we headed back up there on Monday evening again for a dinner together. Sunday we walked for hours, starting in Østerbro in Faelled park, where Elmine and I extensively discussed various questions and ideas, while letting our feet take us where they happened to be heading. Over a nice lunch we wrote some of the fruits of walking and thinking down, before continuing on foot along the city lakes towards Nørreport and the city center, where we hit the Lego store for some early Sinterklaas preparations.

PAN leaves the water
PAN leaves the water

The fourth week in Copenhagen ended this Monday with a day in the office at SocialSquare, where Magnus and I also took the opportunity to talk about Sensemaking, and I handed back the office keys when I left. After work, as mentioned we headed up to Helsingør again for a ‘hyggelig’ dinner with Henriëtte, Thomas and Penny.

Tomorrow is the last full day in Copenhagen after a month that zipped by at high speed, and we’ll be ‘closing down the Copenhagen operation’ as Peter would put it, which includes returning our rented bikes. But not before I meet up with the people behind the Copenhagen bicycle policies at city hall to talk about open data. On Wednesday we’ll drive back home, taking a day to unpack and rest, before I head out to Prague for new open data adventures on Friday. By the end of next week I hope to post some thoughts on how this month-long stay worked out as an experiment.