»Why there is no open data for culture, and how we are building it.«
2019-10-10, 16:00–16:30, S1 Disco Room

This is a story of how cultural communication is broken, and how open data for culture in a tight embrace with an elegant API can try to fix it.

We'll talk about how we've built our API to be a collaborative tool serving culture lovers, data enthusiasts and emerging artists.

There is this disturbing, untold truth: the only open data for culture that has ever existed was created by Facebook, as it unified the information about cultural events and made it machine readable through its events API. After Cambridge Analytica, Facebook closed its events API, and the world of culture plunged back into the dark ages of scattered, isolated websites, local apps and paper agendas.

At the same time, culture is central for the politicians of all levels, from Brussels to any local town hall. The European Commission alone, through its Creative Europe programme, provides 308 million of culture budget every year. With all this investment and good will to support the arts, why is it still so frustrating to figure out what music, theatre and dance is happening in our cities?

At Invisible City we have seen both worlds: the shutdown of Facebook events API, which was our source of data, and the endless sessions in Brussels - from which we received some of our funding - where we observed bureaucrats from all sorts of cultural departments discuss how to communicate culture. We realised a simple, yet surprisingly obscure fact: there is no open data for culture. So we decided to build it.

We started with designing our own data-entry system and ended up building our own API. We realised that the way the audience consumes cultural data deeply affects the way cultural managers and scrapers should write data into the system, and, consequently, how the resulting API is built.

We needed to think long and hard about user types, user permissions and data consistency. In this talk we're going to explain how open data, open source and Ubuntu servers became part of our business strategy, and what technical solutions we have found to make it happen.