Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2012 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
Why is open data important? Here's an example from the Wikimedia chapter in Hungary. For context: every year people all over the world participate in the "Wiki Loves Monuments" contest, taking photos of monuments and historic places and uploading them to Wikimedia Commons. So local organizers have to get lists of those places (example).
We had high hopes to repeat in 2012 the highly successful 2011 Wiki Loves Monuments photo contest, which required agreement from the National Office of Cultural Heritage to use the database of national monuments. However, the head of the Office has resigned in June due to a disagreement with the government before he could sign the cooperation agreement for 2012, leaving the decision to his successor. The new head, partly due to the tasks of taking over the Office and partly due to summer holidays could only devote time to the draft agreement in the middle of August. Finally, at the end of August, a few days before the government disbanded the Office, we had received notice that an agreement this year is not possible and we had to cancel our participation in the international photo contest.
Aaaarrrrghh! I offered my sympathies and got a reply:
Thank you Sumana! Wikipedians are quite resilient, so I have good hopes for 2013, even if we have to create a list of the 10 thousand monuments from scratch by hand (which I believe some people have already started doing)... –Bence
I wish you good luck, Wikimedia Hungary, and I wish you open data.