Infolab kickoff. On the 11th of April, a workshop gathered 70 opendata enthusiasts in Paris. It was organized by La Fing, a french organization which creates, detects and shares novel and actionable ideas to anticipate digital transformations , in collaboration with Simon Chignard opendata activist and writer, Claire Gallon from LiberTIC association @LiberTIC promoting opendata, and Sarah Labelle @sl_lab, researcher on Communication and Information Science in Paris Université 13 . The driver for such meeting was to initiate and support a two years program focusing on data, data in all its aspects : data quality, open data, data viz, data we love you. This ambitious program relies on the creation of an Infolab, a physical and digital place where anyone could find recipes to improve data quality, to make the importance of data understood by companies, to mediate the data to the citizen. Going beyond the dogma that open data is a super-exciting-major-topic, the workshop, lead by Amandine Brugière @abrugiere was really constructive. Representatives from different sectors were here to garantee that conversations hapening here were applicable to private and public sector. Attendees counted : delegations from regions and territories of Nantes, Bordeaux, Rennes, Paris, Poitiers, Lyon, Marseille, but also La Poste, Alcatel Lucent, Silicon Sentier (a startup enabling association), gemalto, caisse des dépôts, … All condidtions were met to make progress on the topic, as mentioned by Gael Musquet, supporting Open Street Map project .
Tous les acteurs de l’ #OpenData Français présents à la réunion #Infolab @infolab_fing Une belle photo de famille à la #MDA12*
— Gael MUSQUET (@RatZillaS) April 11, 2013
Work and findings. Participants split into several workshops. One dedicated to surname data – and what to do with it, driven by Simon Chignard @schignard. A second related to data usage in corporation, driven by Charles Nepote @charlesnepote. A third one related to data visualization, driven by Vincent Mandinau @VincentMandinau and Hervé Paris from ANACT @Anact_, a national agency for improving working conditions. Some experimental findings from it :
– Data representing companies today, accessible on the web thanks to google search are not efficiently controlled. Google algorithms are a science and companies should learn more about it. We all know that competitive advantage sometimes relies today on a good digital positioning. in addition, harmonization of data format, in a single organization or across several organizations is a nightmare. We all experienced that filling a database with MyCompañy or My Compañy or MYCOMPANY will induce fuzzy statistics. there are definitely rooms of improvement in the private sector to make data relevant.
– Data usage has to be invented and the best way to do that is to play with sets of data, cross hints, explore intuition and find the queries you would expect t answer. Act before thinking in other words.
– Data visualization is a good mean to practice *and* discuss the data. A demonstrator was made on unemployment data and attendees could reverse engineer the maps to build their own view. That practice was a wonderful pretext to discuss data and what they could reveal.
Some perspective. Finally an academic presentation was made by Sarah Labelle. Sarah explained the notion of “mediation to citizen” : the fact to encourage people to appropriate a specific topic or knowledge. She illustrated usages in different areas : culture, innovation, pedagogy. In each of those domains, it was demonstrated that recent trends were to mediate via tools. Teachers do integrate experiments in their lessons, museum do play with the visitors, allowing them to have audio guide, interacts with the art pieces. All findings around that kind of mediation could be tested in the area of data.
Infolab proposal. Infolab is offering to create the natural eco-system for progressing. It aims to inspect the possible tools and means to reach the people and make them having at least an opinion, at most an appropriate action plan on how to make data usable and how to exploit them in a smart way. The debate following the workshop raised some questions related to key questions such as what would a data museum look like, how to balance tool and democracy, what is the place of script and non-script in the data treatment, …Large questions that may find answers in the next Infolab meeting.
Super, when do we work again ? Participants were invited to meet again during the opendata european week which will be organized in Marseille, from the 25 to 28th of June, as announced by Stéphane Martayan @smartayan in collaboration with Provence region and La Fing. Save the date of the 27th of June and book your agenda  !
* translation of Gael tweet : all actors of french open data are here in the Infolab meeting, a nice familly picture in the house of association from Paris
 La Fing http://fing.org/?About-Fing&lang=fr
 Sarah Labelle research domain [fr] http://labsic.univ-paris13.fr/index.php/labelle-sarah
 Open Street Map project OSM http://www.openstreetmap.org/
 Collaborative day during the open data european week in Marseille, registration http://fr.amiando.com/DSXFDLF.html
Note : Link to a previous post ‘Opendata : a postcard from France’ https://poulpitablog.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/opendata-postcard-from-france/