Chief Electoral Officers and Open Data

Canada’s Chief Electoral Officers – the federal, provincial and territorial officials responsible for the conduct of elections in their jurisductions – held their annual meeting here in Charlottetown on Monday, July 20, and I was asked to speak to them on open data in the same spirit I spoke to the Queen’s Printers Association of Canada last month: open data from a user’s perspective.

I honed the presentation for the elections-focused audience, and I winnowed down my “open data principles” to 5 (from 7), both for time and focus, leaving me with:

  1. You have no idea (at all) what open data might be used for.
  2. PDFs are where data goes to die.
  3. Sometimes “open” can simply mean following rules of design.
  4. Open data is a conversation.
  5. Sometimes your users will create open data for you.

I used my work to liberate the recently-released White Paper on Democratic Renewal here on Prince Edward Island as an example of a project that touches on each of those principles.

Although the slides I used for the presentation are less meaningful with out me to walk through them, I’m providing them in a variety of formats, under a Creative Commons license, with hopes that others might build upon them.

  • Keynote 6 (47 MB)
  • PDF (18 MB; does not include audio clips)
  • HTML (exported from Keynote as a “playable” presentation)
  • JPEG (26 MB; 87 images, one per slide, in a ZIP file)
  • Speaker Deck (web-embeddable)

Logistics for the meeting were expertly handled by the Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat: the screen projector and audio setup was painless, and my presentation was simulataneously translated into French (leaving me to wonder how idioms like “and once the horses were out of the barn…” were translated).