The 3rd version of Visualizar started yesterday at the Medialab-Prado in Madrid. The 2-week workshop annex seminar is directed by José Luis de Vicente and counts with a team of well known tutors, which this year includes Ben Cerveny, Aaron Koblin, Andrés Ortiz, Santiago Ortiz and Manuel Lima.
The first day was dedicated to discuss the theme chosen for the current edition: "Public Data, Data in Public". Authors from different parts of the world presented the projects to be developed within the next weeks. Themes of these projects vary from piracy and patents, to water usage and diseases. After the project presentations, collaborators and the Medialab team presented themselves. This session was a warming up for the formation of teams that will happen on Saturday morning, when the projects will start to be designed and developed.
After the traditional Spanish 2 hour long lunch pause, it was time for the first lectures. The lawyer Eva Moraga gave a very insightful talk about the legal issues involved in the access and reutilization of public data in Europe. She explained recent agreements that attempt to define rules for such utilization, while pointing out to practical issues such as the organisms that provide such information, and steps involved in the process. Questions such as if all entities involved in a political system should make their data available, or if every person should know how exactly governments apply their money, were raised.
In the following lecture it became clear that having the right to access information is not enough in order to make such data public. According to José Manuel Alonso, it is necessary to put the information where people are looking for it - e.g. the Library of the Congress that published photos on Flickr. He presented the benefits of making public data available through structured formats instead of through official portals. In this way information can be turned into well used applications, such as Facebook.
The last talk was given by Liz Turner from the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), a community focused on promoting the use, reused, and redistribution of information. Liz presented the practical problems that a designer faces while developing visualizations of public data.
All seminars of Visualizar are streamed live, which can be accessed here.