A Week in Summer in the Alps: Open Data and a Barcamp at the European Forum Alpbach

Sonnenaufgang am Gratlspitz

Since 1945 every year in August, the Tyrolean mountain village Alpbach hosts the European Forum Alpbach – an interdisciplinary three-weeks congress with Austrian and international participants from all fields of society. In the last years and decades, the Forum Alpbach has attracted people like Theodor W. Adorno, Jacques Delors, Viktor Frankl, Friedrich von Hayek, Indira Gandhi or Karl Popper. Alpbach is a bit like Davos but smaller, not as elitist and with a broader focus.

The scientific centerpiece of Alpbach is the seminar week: In 16 one-week seminars, researchers and experts explain their fields of work. This week is very lively: It is the start of the forum, where also around 600 students from all over the world come together.

For this week I had proposed a seminar idea on the topic of “Open Data, Open Government, Open Society?” to the Scientific Advisory Board and I am really glad that my seminar was selected. I also had suggested two seminar chairs and now I am even happier that they agreed to teach in Alpbach for a whole week:

  • Rufus Pollock, founder and co-director of the Open Knowledge Foundation
  • Carl-Christian Buhr, civil servant in the cabinet of European Commissioner Neelie Kroes

With Pollock and Buhr, two of Europe’s most important open data advocates as join the discussion in Alpbach for a week. From the seminar description:

“An essential requirement for a modern and democratic society are institutions that act transparently and can be held accountable by the public. Governments and organiza- tions all over the world have therefore started to open up their data in recent years. These measures have not only improved transparency, they have also unfolded an enormous economic potential. This seminar deals with the topic of open (government) data and its implications: It focuses on the social and technological circumstances and gives insight into data analytics and visualization; last but not least, it also brings up questions of “data ethics”: Which rules and types of freedom does a future data-driven society need?”

It was the second time that my seminar was chosen by the Scientific Advisory Board of Forum Alpbach. Last year my proposed seminar on Social Media was held by Mercedes and Heinz with me as their assistant.

BarCamp in Alpbach

During the seminar week there is another event in which I am involved: I am one of the organizers of the first BarCamp in Alpbach. It is an offical Forum event that is free and open for everyone from outside.