Speaker highlights: Jeni Tennison

In an effort to look outside the WordPress island and get fresh ideas from other communities, at WordCamp Europe 2015 we have several prominent speakers from outside the WordPress community. 

We’re delighted to introduce Jeni Tennison, technical director of the Open Data Institute in the UK that convenes world-class experts from industry, government and academia to collaborate, incubate, nurture and explore new ideas to promote innovation with open data. Jeni is coming to WordCamp Europe to talk about open data and how it can benefit us all. Learn more in the following interview. 


Jeni Tennison

Hey Jeni, could you introduce yourself briefly?

I am Jeni Tennison, Technical Director and Deputy CEO at the Open Data Institute, where I’ve been since it started in 2012. I’ve got a background as a developer, and in particular led the development of legislation.gov.uk for a number of years. I’ve also done a bunch of standards work at W3C, including on XML and XSLT, as a member of the Technical Architecture Group, and most recently on getting CSV to work better on the web.

Tell us a little bit more about what the Open Data Institute does?

The Open Data Institute (ODI) is an independent, non-profit and non-partisan company based in London, UK. The ODI convenes world-class experts from industry, government and academia to collaborate, incubate, nurture and explore new ideas to promote innovation with open data. It was founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, and offers training, membership, research and strategic advice for organisations looking to explore the possibilities of open data.

How did you get involved in the field? How did you decide to do what you do?

I got involved in open data by working with the public sector on publishing information on the web. I gravitated towards it because it fits with my outlook – that we benefit as a society when data is widely available – as well as being technically and politically challenging and interesting.

What are the most important projects you’ve worked on?

Improving the way that UK legislation is made available online through legislation.gov.uk is one of the most important projects I’ve worked on, particularly as it evolved to enabling that legislation to be managed and maintained collaboratively, to increase the quality of information available for everyone.

More recently I’ve worked on Open Addresses UK, a project to create an open address database, which is a fundamental data asset for the UK as it is in other countries.

How does open data affect people’s lives?

People probably don’t realise, but it probably touches everyone’s lives on a daily basis. Many of the applications that we use every day, such as transport apps that tell us when the next bus is going to arrive, or maps that help us find a good route to get where we need to go, are usually based on open data. In the business world, understanding your market and demographic trends relies on statistics which are usually open data. Open data is also used to provide transparency about what governments are doing, such as what they’re spending money on or who they’re providing contracts to, which can increase democratic accountability.

Tell us a bit more about your WordCamp Europe talk? What should people expect?

I’m going to be talking about the different ways data can be published on the web, the advantages of publishing open data and the extra things you can do to make that data more accessible and easier for others to reuse. There’ll be a bit of theory about why publishing data is useful, a bit of technical exploration about how to do it, and a wider look at what enables others to use the data we publish.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

This is my first WordCamp and I’m looking forward to meeting people and hopefully giving a different, data-oriented, slant on publishing on the web.

Thank you, Jeni! Looking forward to your talk.

Jeni Tennison’s talk How Much Should You Share Your Data? is on Saturday just before lunch. Check out the full schedule and mark the talks you’d like to see today.

If you don’t have a ticket for WordCamp Europe yet, get a ticket now, they’re going fast!

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