A new Finnish culture of activity was on display by the shores of Lake Tuusulanjärvi recently when hackers, net citizens and officials promoting openness worked their way through system challenges at neighbourhood, city and national level. This was an extension of the Open Knowledge Festival in which more than 80 open data activists took part.
Volunteers spent the second weekend in February considering all the opportunities presented by the opening up of information; from increasing democracy to public transport applications and museum activities. The only person getting paid for the event was an assistant to a Swedish member of the European Parliament whose job was to keep up with what is actually happening in the open data sector in Finland.
It was wonderful watching this army of ants working on their common anthill without any formal organisation or strategy. Coders churned out demos and prototypes – new openings to decision-making systems were made among people from both the Tapulikaupunki neighbourhood and the city of Tampere. While some used skilful visualisations to change traffic data into better traffic systems, others improved public services by combining case management systems of the city and residents’ networks with new, open methods.
Within this new culture of activity Eino Leino 2.0 is in fact a group of hackers and officials who are working together to build a new, poetic Finland and its infrastructure. The new culture of activity is more art than science. Some wise person once said that if you cannot describe something, write a poem.
While a hundred years ago Eino Leino did it alone, today’s Eino Leino 2.0 is a self-organising group of hundreds of people.
Creative and successful work is derived from mental openness and richness. Its preconditions are not the desire to compete, or academic or technical methodologies, but the chance for people to do things together, naturally, and have sustainable interdependence in their own community. These activities could be discerned on the shore of Lake Tuusulanjärvi.
Open democracy needs an open mind and open data.