OpenTech 2013

18th May 2013

from UKUUG, the ODI and friends

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Past: '11, '10, '09, '08, '05


OpenTech 2013 Draft Schedule

Please note that the order of speakers within any session will be decided on the day, and no implication of ordering should be implied here.

In the bar: visionOntv's revolutionary pop-up TV studio.

Hashtags: #opentech #A1 - for Session 1 in Main Room. Drop #opentech for space if needed.

Stream A — Main Room (1st Floor) Stream B — Malet Suite (2nd Floor) Stream C — Seminar Room (3C/D, 3rd Floor)
10:00am Doors Open
10:45am Session 1

#opentech #A1

Welcome to Opentech!
  • Being Female on the Internet
  • Selling ideas

#opentech #B1

10 years of ORG
  • Open Rights Group

#opentech #C1

  • Un-artificial Intelligence: How people learn
  • Objects of Intrigue: Modifying object behaviour to increase interaction
  • how we spent a year turning a caravan into a spaceship
click on a talk to see its abstract here
11:40am Session 2

#opentech #A2

Beyond Snowdenia
  • RIPA 2?
  • The 3rd year of Snowdenia
  • Privacy: I do not think that word means what you think it means

#opentech #B2

  • Lost in Tech Translation
  • 360Giving : Open Funding Data
  • The Cult of Equity

#opentech #C2

Not the Government Digital Service
  • DVLA Digital
  • statistically significant: what next for the "world's worst website"?
  • HSC Digital Service
click on a talk to see its abstract here
12:30 Lunch
1:30 Session 3

#opentech #A3

The State
  • The State of the Network Address
  • The State of Data

#opentech #B3

  • Open Rail Data - Where Now?
  • Integrating Rail Fares and Times
  • Digital Cholera

#opentech #C3

  • Moving government publishing to GOV.UK without breaking the web
  • Open Source Journalism
  • I hacked 1,000 UK Government websites. Stop me before I hack again!
click on a talk to see its abstract here
2:30 Session 4

#opentech #A4

Privacy and Open
  • From the Tip: physical infrastructure lessons for data.
  • Do you know where you medical records go?

#opentech #B4

  • Using data to find patterns in law
  • Scenic environments, healthy environments? How open data offers answers to this age-old question.

#opentech #C4

Open Health
  • OpenPump: open-source hardware for medical devices
  • OpenHealthCare
  • Open Access Research
click on a talk to see its abstract here
3:30 Break
4:00 Session 5

#opentech #A5

Blockchains, addressing, and everything
  • Blockchains - the power of trustless networks
  • Let's redecentralize
  • Addressing data

#opentech #B5

Democracy in action
  • I stood as a candidate, and...
  • Democracy Club
  • The Twitter Election?

#opentech #C5

Science in Action
  • Inspiring the Next Generation of Scientists & Engineers - Confessions of a Science Communicator
  • Science and Democracy
  • Science as Art
click on a talk to see its abstract here
5:00 Session 6

#opentech #A6

  • The Fantasy of Frictionless Cities?
  • Digital toilets: For your convenience
  • dotEveryone

#opentech #B6

  • Election: what's next

#opentech #C6

  • gitfs - building a filesystem in Python
  • A mobile web of apps and documents
  • meditation for opentech-types?
click on a talk to see its abstract here
6:00 Close

Session 1

Main Room

Being Female on the Internet — Sarah Brown

How to tweet on in the face of harassment, stalking and the occasional rape threat.

Selling ideas — Vinay Gupta

How the language we use to talk about an idea changes as it goes from a highly complex technical abstraction to an everyday concept, and how to get your project over all those odd little gaps of understanding that can stop a project from growing.


Malet Room (2nd Floor)

Open Rights Group — 10 Years on since Open Tech founded Open Rights Group

Happy Birthday Open Rights Group! 10 Years since Open Tech founded ORG in a panel like this one, we bring back the original founders and look at how digital rights in the UK has changed, what we've done together, - and what the challenges are for the next 10 years.


Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

Un-artificial Intelligence: How people learn — Melinda Seckington

"HAL, Skynet, KITT… we’ve always been intrigued by artificial intelligence, but have you ever stopped to considered the un-artificial? Most developers are familiar with the basics of AI: how do you make a computer, an algorithm, a system learn something? How do you model real world problems in such a way that an artificial mind can process them? What most don't realize though is that the same principles can be applied to people. This talk looks at some of the theories behind how machines learn versus how people learn."

Objects of Intrigue: Modifying object behaviour to increase interaction — Rachael Moat

"How do you make a bowl of spaghetti hoops play music? Why would you want to? Exploring the novel research taking place at Seashell Trust, Manchester, this presentation showcases some of the more unusual prototypes and concepts for personalised musical interfaces - all designed to encourage children with complex needs to interact. Developed utilising low-cost technologies such as Arduino, these same tools could also hold the key to collecting quantifiable data on the behavioural patterns of children with complex needs. Could this herald a new approach to research in this field?


how we spent a year turning a caravan into a spaceship — tom wyatt

a quick story of how 4 people turned a knackered caravan into a 3 player spaceship simulation

Session 2

Main Room

RIPA 2? — Ian Brown


The 3rd year of Snowdenia — Caroline Wilson Palow

Privacy: I do not think that word means what you think it means — Kat Matfield

"You only need to look at the relative popularity of Facebook and Diaspora, WhatsApp and Telegram to realise that techies think about privacy quite differently from other people. I spent much of 2014 researching how normal people think about their privacy online. In this talk, I’ll share a few of the most surprising things I learnt – for instance, what role 'security theatre' plays in people's behaviour. If you design and/or develop anything for the general public, knowing these things will help you make sites/apps/services that people can trust with their personal information.


Malet Room (2nd Floor)

Lost in Tech Translation — Lucy Chambers

Tech translators are bridges, they connect real world problems with technical solutions. Today, I have a confession: I have problems. Tech translation is not a job, it’s a skillset that cuts across many different formal role descriptions from product management to facilitation.* This talk is about the relationship between human language and tech problems. It's about how spending more time talking about problems in human language (vs tech) forces us to shift focus in our projects to things that matter. We'll explore why 80% of a tech translator's job is problem definition and how to pick your battles when choosing a problem to solve.

360Giving : Open Funding Data — Alice Casey

360Giving is working with the UK's foundations and trusts to help them publish funding data to an open standard, and using that to inform their decision making.

The Cult of Equity — Paul Robinson

The spirit of innovation within the tech industry is being perverted by a lust for money. Those who produce the ideas, do the work and provide the passion find they do so for the benefit of venture capitalists and feckless marketing droids. Evenings, weekends, holidays and perhaps lives are lost to The Cult of Equity. To fix this, we need to understand there is another way than the funding merry-go-round, the 24-month long "crunch", the ever-present search for growth and attention, and even the structure of the businesses we build. This talk briefly discusses the problems and some possible solutions.

Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

DVLA Digital — Daffyd Vaughan

statistically significant: what next for the "world's worst website"? — Matt Jukes

The ONS website has been called “..a national embarrassment.”, “..virtually unnavigable” and "the worst, most important, website in the UK." We're fixing that, and this talk will start to show how.

HSC Digital Service — Roger Donald

Session 3

Main Room

The State of the Network Address — Bill Thompson

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.... but shouting out of the window won't help. What might? How can we get ourselves organised and online, and take back the network?

The State of Data — Gavin Starks


Malet Room (2nd Floor)

Open Rail Data - Where Now? — Peter Hicks

I'll be talking about the changes in Open Rail Data over the last two years since my previous talk at OpenTech, what can be done with the data and how you can get involved. This will be followed by an outline of how the industry is changing and what other data and information could be made open.

Integrating Rail Fares and Times — Paul Kelly

Determining the cheapest valid fare for a given rail journey itinerary is a fascinatingly complex subject that combines train schedule and connection data, ticket validity and restriction information, as well as arcane and frequently changing rules defining what constitutes a "permitted route". A lot of the requisite data sources have been opened up in the last few years, but vital elements are still hidden away, accessible only to those willing to pay hefty licence fees. This talk gives an overview of how a typical online journey planning and ticket booking session works together with the data sources involved, both open and closed.

Digital Cholera — Peter Wells

Open Addresses & Digital Cholera: lessons from building an open data service in a world of copyright.

Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

Moving government publishing to GOV.UK without breaking the web — Jenny Duckett


Open Source Journalism — Annabel Church

There’s a lot of work being replicated across newsrooms and this is wasting a lot of time and resources that could be spent better. If we open source our code we can save time, and compete on journalism rather than tech. Of course there are awesome existing libraries like D3, but we could do so much more. In addition newsrooms have a responsibility to fight for the open web.

I hacked 1,000 UK Government websites. Stop me before I hack again! — Terence Eden

"Last year I discovered thousands of security flaws in,,, and websites. I was a very good boy and responsibly disclosed the flaws to the website owners. When they didn't fix them, I went to the press. In this exciting, action packed, thriller of a talk, find out... - How I did it. - Why I did it. - Which councils are selling ""little blue pills"" - If I got arrested. - How to stop me doing it again."

Session 4

Main Room

From the Tip: physical infrastructure lessons for data. — Ellen Broad

We've talked repeatedly about a UK National Information Infrastructure. Still, it's been hard to get a handle on what an NII looks like - How do we show the thing? Can we start building it?

Do you know where you medical records go? — Phil Booth

You don't, but Phil's changing that.

Malet Room (2nd Floor)

Using data to find patterns in law — John Sheridan

"The journalist, Christopher Booker, suggested that there are seven essential stories that distil all novels (eg “the quest”, “kill the monster”). Are there seven, or twelve, or fifteen, essential laws that distil legislation, and if so, what are they? Can the combination of open legislation data, open source tools and cloud computing help us find these essential laws? Find out about our work to create a pattern language for legislation. We’ll be presenting new open data, new methods, and new insights into how statute book works. Open tech meets legislation. Will the law ever be the same again?

Scenic environments, healthy environments? How open data offers answers to this age-old question. — Chanuki Seresinhe

"Does living in picturesque areas make you feel healthier? Urban planners and think tanks have puzzled over this question for years, but have been held back by a lack of data on the beauty of our environment. In this talk, we’ll explain how open crowdsourced data from the mySociety project “Scenic-or-Not” might offer some answers to this age-old question. A comparison to data from the Census shows that people living in more scenic environments report better health, even when taking variables such as income and greenspace into account. These results suggest that the beauty of our everyday environment might have more practical importance than previously realised, and underline the value of open crowdsourced data for scientists and policymakers alike."


Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

OpenPump: open-source hardware for medical devices — Gerrit Niezen

OpenPump is an open-source hardware project to build a syringe pump, a device used to dispense fluids over a set period of time. Syringe pumps are used in hospitals to administer medication, but also in lab environments for activities like microfluidics, bioreactors and bioprinting. This talk will discuss the design and development of OpenPump, as well as the challenges and opportunities for open-source medical devices.


OpenHealthCare — David Miller

Health care software isn’t good enough. Too often, it hinders rather than helps. The opportunity cost of the status quo is spectacular and unacceptable. Health care software is too important to be proprietary, inefficient, and broken. David Miller of Open Health Care ( ) will be telling stories of frustration, success, and delivering software that doctors fall in love with.

Open Access Research — Joseph Mcarthur

Open Access to research articles is fast making progress in academia, in this talk we'll see if the same can be said for code.

Session 5

Main Room

Blockchains - the power of trustless networks — Jutta Steiner

excitement about its potential. Project Ethereuem is further developing blockchain technology to build a platform that makes it easy for any developer to implement decentralized applications. Ethereum is building a magic world computer that anyone can upload programs to and leave the programs to self-execute, where the current and all previous states of every program are always publicly visible, and programs running on the chain will continue to execute in exactly the way that the blockchain protocol specifies. This massively reduces high trust barriers for entrepreneurs and change makers by massively reducing the social capital required for a venture. London based tech start up Project Provenance Ltd. was founded with the goal to make supply chains more transparent and uses Ethereum's technology on its mission. We have long tried to entrust third parties to operate systems to oversee supply chains - with very mixed success. Removing the need for a third party operator, blockchains will entirely change the game for certifying, tracking and tracing the origin of materials and goods.

Let's redecentralize — Irina Bolychevski

A device in every pocket, a browser in every home and the internet of things that may spy on you or connect you. The digital revolution has left us ever more dependant on an increasingly centralised net, large parts of which are controlled by fewer and fewer institutions. Irina of will be exploring some of the implications of centralisation, the projects working to change this, the possibilities of decentralisation and how we can this into an unstoppable movement. Come along, say hello, voice your thoughts and get involved!

Addressing data — Jeni Tenison

Malet Room (2nd Floor)

I stood as a candidate, and... — James Smith

In May, I stood for Parliament on an open source policy platform, using GitHub, data knowhow, and the Internet to do it. I'll explain how it went, what we got right, what we got wrong, and why you should get involved for next time!

Democracy Club — Sym Roe

The Twitter Election? — Dave Cross

I'm interested in the way that candidates will be using Twitter in the general election. In 2010, I monitored Twitter usage in my constituency. This time I'm building a site which will monitor all Twitter usage by all candidates in all constituencies. This talk will explain what I did and how it all went. I may even draw some vague conclusions.


Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

Inspiring the Next Generation of Scientists & Engineers - Confessions of a Science Communicator — Rhys Phillips

Research engineer and science broadcaster Rhys Phillips designs lightning strike protection for new aircraft at Airbus Group Innovations. He also presents a weekly science radio programme, runs a science festival and spends a lot of time engaging the next generation of scientists and engineers. He communicates science with the public through lectures, variety nights and even occasional stand-up comedy sets. In this talk, Rhys will outline the important role that young engineers have to play in engaging with young minds as well as share some anecdotes of his various science communication activities over the last few years.

Science and Democracy — Michelle Brook

Science as Art — Leah Borromeo

For more, see

Session 6

Main Room

The Fantasy of Frictionless Cities? — Paula Graham Gazzard

"London is becoming a living "future cities" lab but this future city is a closed code with its machine-readable workings becoming shrouded from democratic accountability. Meanwhile, the minutest details of citizens private lives are opened to corporations and governments. How will this asymmetric access to data shape our lives in future? Should we be incorporating data use into our constructs of human computer interaction? How can we be more open and transparent about the use of social, meta, and machine data? How can we work with human communities to design for more openness and democratic control of the cityscape's future? Fossbox is working on developing a design approach which will enable us to design for 'big data' applications participatively. We'd also like to open a discussion about the socio-cultural aspects of 'future cities' and ways to harness 'big data' for an engaged civil society and human spaces."

Digital toilets: For your convenience — Gail Ramster

The Great British Public Toilet Map is a project aiming to create and share open data about all the toilets in the UK available to the public. Starting in 2011 with next to no data, It now has 10000 toilets, the largest database of toilets in the UK. I’ll be talking about 1) how we found the money, resources and data to build up the map, tackling a complex web of contradicting datasets; 2) how anti-social behaviour towards toilets was replicated in this digital public space though online vandalism, and, 3) as we work towards a ‘complete’ public toilet dataset, what this could reveal about our cities that could improve help decision-makers to improve public toilets and other public services.

dotEveryone — Paula Le Dieu

Malet Room (2nd Floor)

Election: what's next — who knows?

Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

gitfs - building a filesystem in Python — Vlad Temian

"gitfs is an open-source[1] filesystem which was designed to bring the full powers of Git to everyone, no matter how little they know about versioning. A user can mount any repository and all the his changes will be automatically converted into commits. gitfs will also expose the history of the branch you’re currently working on by simulating snapshots of every commit. gitfs is useful in places where you want to keep track of all your files, but at the same time you don’t have the possibility of organizing everything into commits yourself. A FUSE filesystem for git repositories, with local cache. In this talk we will take a look at some of the crucial aspects involved in building a reliable FUSE filesystem, the steps that we took in building gitfs, especially in handling the git objects (, what testing methods we have used for it and also we will share the most important lessons learned while building it. The prerequisites for this talk are: A good understanding of how Git works Basic understaning of Operating Systems concepts [1] You can find the source here - and more details here -"

A mobile web of apps and documents — Ade Oshineye

(audio starts at 15:54)


meditation for opentech-types? —

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