OpenTech 2017

13th May 2017

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OpenTech 2017 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.

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

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

#opentech #A1

  • Standards for Private Browsing
  • Getting to fairness in the platform economy

#opentech #B1

  • ORG in 2017

#opentech #C1

  • Local Democracy meets Public Data Mapping
  • Feudal Housing, Leasehold and Open Data
  • Physiological data
click on a talk to see its abstract here
11:40am Session 2

#opentech #A2

  • People Before Pixels?

#opentech #B2

  • Lessons from large stories
  • Records of 23 million children

#opentech #C2

  • Mapping Land Ownership
  • Digital at the National Archives
click on a talk to see its abstract here
12:30 Lunch
1:30 Session 3

#opentech #A3

  • Real headlines of 2016
  • Real headlines of 2022

#opentech #B3

  • MicroPython, micro:bit and a Million Children
  • How people and 'little data' can rethink dumb 'smart cities'.

#opentech #C3

  • 360 Docs: Bringing Domestic Abuse into the light
  • Opening up UK grantmaking
  • CoTech: the UK's digital co-op network and how we helped start it
click on a talk to see its abstract here
2:30 Session 4

#opentech #A4

  • Post-FUBAR; what do we do next?
  • Beyond fake news

#opentech #B4

  • Design thinking - build it faster
  • Periods: a provocation
  • Open Organs - Post-biological Organ Trade

#opentech #C4

  • Hidden Local History
  • Tower Bridge is lifting up
  • Curators vs robots
click on a talk to see its abstract here
3:30 Break
4:00 Session 5

#opentech #A5

  • The state of public-interest digital technology
  • Ada Lovelace in 2017
  • Climate Symphony

#opentech #B5

  • Digital rights and exploits
  • Keeping CAs honest - Mozilla's Root Cert Program
  • Recognising hybrid war and strategic disinfo attacks

#opentech #C5

  • Experience of Elsewhere
  • The importance of being open...
  • Represent.Me?
click on a talk to see its abstract here
5:00 Session 6

#opentech #A6

  • Electrocution for fun and profit
  • What can deep learning reveal about beautiful places?
  • Open Everything? What's next?

#opentech #B6

  • Play by the rule
  • Are we still screwed?

#opentech #C6

  • Iterating Democracy
  • Democracy Club 2017 & 2018
click on a talk to see its abstract here
6:00 Close

Session 1

Main Room

Standards for Private Browsing — Hadley Beeman

The internet is really, really great; and while there's always some new site to shop for gifts for loved ones, sometimes you don't want them in your browser history or tracking you... There should be standards for that.


Getting to fairness in the platform economy — Rachel Coldicutt

What next after Open? Getting to fairness in the platform economy.

Malet Room (2nd Floor)

ORG in 2017 — Open Rights Group

UK censorship of legal content - Join ORG for a discussion with ORG's Legal Director Myles Jackman about the Digital Economy Act and what it means for you. Open Rights Group will explain what the law means, how users can protect themselves and how they are pushing back through legal actions and campaigns.

Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

Local Democracy meets Public Data Mapping — Jakub Korab

In 2016 South Gloucestershire Council announced a plan to cut local library services - adding to the hundreds of libraries closed throughout the UK in the last 6 years of austerity. Joining a mixed group of local campaigners, I set out to change their minds by showing them the impact of their cuts in a more real way, beyond the bland statistics of their consultation reports. What followed was an intense few months of Freedom of Information requests, public data gathering, a head-first dive into geospatial data, a shoestring cloud deployment, some super-shiny charts, and presentation to local councils. This is a talk about what I learned along the way about how tech we take for granted can be used to influence our local communities, what is possible with publicly accessible data, and how to go about convincing people who do not want to be convinced.

Feudal Housing, Leasehold and Open Data — Renuka Reins

Impact of leasehold on property, lack of open data on service charges, court procedures. Isolation of consumer by secret processes stacked against them. This applies to both private or council leaseholders. How does this connect with 50% of money worldwide disappearing into trusts? Most of it via UK jurisdiction. How can tech pierce closing of ranks of enablers in both fields?

Physiological data — Rain Ashford

At opentech 2011 I presented my physiological data driven wearables, this is what happened since then.

Session 2

Main Room

People Before Pixels? — Rose Rees Jones

Malet Room (2nd Floor)

Lessons from large stories — Hal Hodson

When do toys become infrastructure, and how do the companies than run that infrastructure respond to criticism? How tech pr works under criticism

Records of 23 million children — Jen Persson

If you or your family were at school any time since the mid-90s, your school records are in something called the National Pupil Database. What is it? What it's used for? And what is it used for that the Government says it isn't?

Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

Mapping Land Ownership — Anna Powell Smith

As seen in Private Eye.

Digital at the National Archives — John Sheridan

impromptu talk.

Session 3

Main Room

Real headlines of 2016 — James Ball

Real headlines of 2022 — Wendy Grossman

Malet Room (2nd Floor)

DIY ISP — Gareth Llewellyn

You probably use an ISP everyday to connect to other ISPs such as Amazon or Netflix but have you ever wondered how an ISP is created? Having lost several Tor nodes due to ISP "Terms and Conditions" I set about building my own. This talk will explore the RIPE LIR process, a bit of BGP, DNS and the legal aspects of becoming your own ISP

MicroPython, micro:bit and a Million Children — Nicholas Tollervey

How do you sustain an open hacker / maker culture? Through education! The BBC's micro:bit runs MicroPython, a full reimplementation of Python 3. A million of these devices have been given to every 12yo in the UK. This short talk is a practical demonstration of what the micro:bit can do, how it works in an educational setting and why computing education is so important to sustaining our "open tech" community, values and culture.

How people and 'little data' can rethink dumb 'smart cities'. — Priya Prakash

A practitioner's tale of 3 different city data models to challenge current popular top-down smart city-models to give people back agency on their own personal data and take pride in shaping their city. People can choose to harness their ‘little data’ to improve public infrastructure in real-time while working, playing and living in their city. They can co-create the future they want to inhabit in real-time, while challenging current big data, sensor-driven smart city dystopias.This is not a utopian talk or a rant, but practical steps to implement a 'people-first' enabled by data and action approach, based on real-world urban case studies across UK, Europe and Asia, with only a slight friendly nod towards smart city data standards so none falls asleep. @d4sc |

Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

360 Docs: Bringing Domestic Abuse into the light — Sam Downie

My talk tells the story of how a short film, based on a Deaf Male was made, and turned in to a 360 VR film that is now used in Police training (at Avon & Somerset Police) helping officers to Empathise with what ever Gender the Victim is. I'll talk about the tools used in the "making of the film", and I'll show the short film (in 2D) towards the end of the talk, this will also be a London debut showing.

Opening up UK grantmaking — Katherine Duerden

CoTech: the UK's digital co-op network and how we helped start it — Kayleigh Walsh

I'd like to spread the word on CoTech, the UK's digital co-op network: -How we helped start it and what the initial challenges were -What we're aiming to achieve -How we're exploring pooling our surplus, using the CoBudget tool -Why collaboration is so important - regardless if you work with a co-op - for any sector which is dominated by big corporations (that will be nearly every sector in the UK).

Session 4

Main Room

Post-FUBAR; what do we do next? — Gavin Starks


Beyond fake news — wisdom of crowds


Malet Room (2nd Floor)

Design thinking - build it faster — Dora Militaru

A swashbuckling tale of how I fell in love with Google Ventures' Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky's DIY design sprints! Ever wanted to build an app or piece of software, but weren't sure where to start or wasted resources and energy on something that didn't succeed? Instead of waiting months to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, spend 5 days on a design sprint and you’ll get clear data from a realistic prototype. Design sprints give you superpowers. You can fast-forward into the future to see your finished product and customer reactions, before making any expensive commitments. * We'll look at how you can distill it all into a 2-day idea sprint. Perfect for start-ups and plucky code monkeys.

Periods: a provocation — Emily Labram

What if my experiment with 'menstrual leave' had everything to tell us about what's wrong in tech and the world beyond... and how to fix it? This is a talk about cycles: creative ones; energetic ones; menstrual ones - for some of us. And a provocation: would we all, actually, be more productive - and, frankly, happier - if we were allowed to REST, even in the 'on, on, on' world of venture capital, shareholder return and infinite growth?

Open Organs - Post-biological Organ Trade — Julian Stadon

The Data Body Trader Project has created a open source network for post-biological organ trading that aims to start discussions relating to evolving bio-technologies, data distribution methods, who is able to access such technology networks, how they are distributes and who profits from them. To achieve this, the practical research presents a range of approaches that use post-digital techniques including biometric scanning, mixed reality interfacing and 3D fabrication and post-biological technologies, such as bio-printing, DIY organ farming and open bio-data distribution. This project speculates that in the future such open source DIY approaches to medicine will evolve, in response to an increasingly privatised and unaffordable health sector worldwide. Don't worry there will be time for questions!

Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

Hidden Local History — Antony Carpen

The hidden history of Cambridge (the city, not the University).

Tower Bridge is lifting up — Dave Cross

When you work five minutes walk from Tower Bridge, it's essential to have an easily-consumable feed telling you when the bridge is lifting. That didn't exist. So I had to make one.

Curators vs robots — Mia Ridge

Why? Finding a single collection item among the 200 million or so held by the British Library isn't easy. The scale of the collections - and the rate at which new items are being added - means the backlog of undigitised and/or undescribed items is far larger than it should be. For the 1-2% of items that have been digitised, techniques like entity extraction could be applied to text, images, audio and video files to highlight the people, places, dates, events and concepts within them. It's worth doing because historical collections should be accessible to everyone, but it means rethinking the role of the curator and cataloguer, and working out when and how to trust content created through newer processes like neural networks and crowdsourcing.

Session 5

Main Room

The state of public-interest digital technology — Tom Steinberg

Ada Lovelace in 2017 — Suw Charman-Anderson

Ada Lovelace Day has grown immensely since it first launched in 2009 as a day of blogging about women in tech. Our annual ‘STEM cabaret’ event showcasing amazing women in STEM is now a fixture in the London calendar, and independently organised events celebrate the day on every major continent. Over the last two years especially, we have expanded our work well beyond the day itself, so join Suw Charman-Anderson to find out what we’ve been up to, how ALD can help you, and how you can help ALD. And find out why and how we’re turning our attention to changing how companies hire women.

Climate Symphony — Leah Borromeo and Jamie Perera

What is the sound of a dying planet? Climate Symphony is a live music performance which turns hard data on climate change into a four part symphony to tell the story of what climate change means through sound. Instead of holding a traditional performance, its creators - Disobedient and composer Jamie Perera - are opening the process from the outset in a series of maker labs hosted in regional locations where artists, journalists, climatologists, data scientists, tech specialists and the general public are invited to bash out a working process. The structures will incorporate a Learn module, a Play module and a Debate module where participants will present, workshop and teach one another about their specialisms with the aim of hacking together a creative process where we can transform data into sound and performance. The reporting and narrative around climate change is bleak - and one where people aren't connected to what the heady mass of facts and numbers mean. Climate Symphony offers a fresh way to cover climate change and a segue to practical and emotional responses. Disobedient's Leah Borromeo and composer Jamie Perera will present their work so far as well as issue an open invitation to challenge their workflow and come along to lab days in June and July.

Malet Room (2nd Floor)

Digital rights and exploits — Ian Hutchinson

How the missing usability layer in exploit information stops us from knowing when our digital rights have been undermined and shares what the usability layer could look like.

Keeping CAs honest - Mozilla's Root Cert Program — Gervase Markham

Seamless secure (TLS) connections on the internet are underpinned by the Web PKI - a system where Certificate Authorities (CAs) issue identity certificates to people and sites, and clients such as browsers have a "trusted root" list of those they think will do that job right. Mozilla runs the only open and transparently root program, which defines what Firefox (and probably your Linux distro) trusts; this talk explains how we use that power to make the Internet a safer and more secure place, including tales about the shady behaviour we've encountered along the way.

Recognising hybrid war and strategic disinfo attacks — Esko Reinikainen

(late addition to the schedule)

Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

Experience of Elsewhere — Tony Bowden

The importance of being open... — Jukesie

'Make things open: it makes things better' but what does that actually mean and at what point does openness start to become product propaganda. This talk will primarily focus on how blogging in particular can be both a channel for transparency but also organisational 'spin' (with examples of both) and will be based on my experiences good and bad in Government.

Represent.Me? — Ed Dowding

Session 6

Main Room

Electrocution for fun and profit — Helen Armfield

No attendees will be harmed in the course of this session.

What can deep learning reveal about beautiful places? — Chanuki Seresinhe

Governments around the world spend a great deal of money preserving and creating beautiful places. As individuals, we often seek them out when desiring rest and relaxation. Beautiful places have also been shown to be beneficial to our wellbeing. But what makes an outdoor space beautiful? Does a beautiful outdoor location differ from a simply natural outdoor location? Here, we explore whether crowd-sourced ratings of over 200,000 images of Great Britain from the online game Scenic-Or-Not, combined with hundreds of image features extracted using a deep learning algorithm, might help us understand what beautiful outdoor spaces are composed of. We also create a new deep learning model to predict scenic locations around London. Join us for this talk to find out what we discovered.

Open Everything? What's next? — Jeni Tennison

What does it take to open up a sector? Openness is not just the domain of government and civil society; businesses should be open too. ODI has been involved in trying to open up two sectors in the past couple of years, through Open Banking - focused on consumer banking - and OpenActive - focused on physical activity. We'll discuss what happened, what we can learn and what to do next.

Malet Room (2nd Floor)

Play by the rule — Ira Shevski

What can we learn from boardgames to make our life game better? Some thoughts on systems, incentives and decentralisation.

Are we still screwed? — Vinay Gupta

What the blockchain did next: can we get real political change from a new generation of cryptography? from climate to supply chains.

Room 3C/3D (3rd floor)

Iterating Democracy — James Smith

Our democracy isn't a finished system; we can keep on improving it, iterating it. But it's not just about better access to the same choices; "Open" is a political statement, and is becoming a new political movement for the future. The OpenPolitics project takes ideas from the open source and agile movements, and applies them to collaborative policymaking online, building the world's first open source political manifesto, built on top of modern technologies like Git, but making them friendly enough that anyone can get involved. This talk will explore how it works, and most importantly why it's worth doing.

Democracy Club 2017 & 2018 — Democracy Club

What democracy club has done in recent elections, and what you can help with in the next one...

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