Open Data Maker Nights and Parties

Open Data Maker Nights and Parties are informal events focused on “making” with open data – whether that’s creating apps or insights. They aren’t a general meetup – if you come, expect to get pulled into actually building something, though we won’t force you!

The events usually have short introductory talks about specific projects and suggestions for things to work on. It’s also absolutely fine to turn up knowing nothing about data, coding or openness – people will be happy to share their knowledge and there’ll always be an activity for you to help with and someone to guide you in contributing!

Organize Your Own

We encourage community members to start their own - all you need is enthusiasm! Here’s a simple recipe (though feel free to run things differently). It consists of 3 steps:

  1. Boot the Event [5-15m]
  2. Prep for the event including sending out announcements and inviting people [Up to you!]
  3. Run

1. Boot the Event

1.1 Create Event Page

  • Create an event page with signup.
    • We recommend using attending.io - but you can use whatever you like - key thing is to make it very easy for people to sign up
  • Title: “Open Data Maker [Your Location] - [Month] [Year]” - e.g. “Open Data Maker London - Feb 2015”
  • Add information: when, where, what, who (signup). You could copy and paste the outline above for the what.

1.2. Tell us about it (so we can list it)

2. Preparation for the Event

2.1 Let people know about it

  • Tweet about it (and @OKFNLabs)
  • Post on Facebook, G+, etc etc
  • Email relevant lists and folks
    • You may want to specifically invite (direct email, DM …) some people e.g. if there is someone with an interesting project to share

2.2 Prep materials

  • Prep activities for people to work on: we suggest prepping at least one topic people could work on - see below for standard options you could use

  • Create a Scratchpad: Prep a scratchpad using etherpad or google doc (template coming soon)

    • Suggest creating an easy to remember link for this using bit.ly or similar
    • Must be collaboratively editable

3. Running the Event

You can run your event however you like. This is a suggested outline for for a 2-3h evening event.

  • Welcome [2-3m]: what is an “Open Data Maker event”. Key points:
    • About “making” (apps and insights) with open data
    • You don’t need to be a geek - insights as well as apps, plus you can come to learn
    • Give out wifi instructions ;-)
    • Give out link to scratchpad
  • Introductions [5m] (depends on number of people): 10-20 second introductions from people (very short - name etc). Ask people to put themselves down in scratchpad
  • Project Introductions [5-10m]: space for people to introduce their project or idea that they may work on that evening (keep these each to <2m)
  • Go! People start “making” usually in groups (people cluster around stuff they find interesting)
  • [Whilst this is going organize food if you have not done that in advance]
  • Wrap-up [15m]: at end of evening a quick wrap-up / report back and discussion of when to run next one

Suggestions for Activities at an Open Data Maker

  • Visualize your Local Gov Finances with OpenSpending: great as people can get from a CSV to a viz within the 1-2h of the evening and there’s a step-by-step guide
  • A data expedition / investigation e.g. where is the highest level of unemployment in our country (see School of Data for more on how to organize these)

Want Help

If you want some suggestions or help just get in touch.

Previous Events

Get Involved

Join our discussion list. Here, we exchange datasets and ideas and plan our projects.


Many of us also hang out on IRC. Check out:

irc.freenode.org: #okfn

Get Hacking

Check out the projects list or the ideas page. Contribute and earn a badge!