#TheOpenAgenda – Why the world needs an open future

By: Daniel Appelquist (@torgo), viagra 60mg Open Web Advocate, site  Telefonica Digital

At Telefónica, price order we recently launched something called #TheOpenAgenda (www.theopenagenda.com) – a cross-industry initiative  to ask what does open mean and why is it so important?

The concept of open first gained traction in the technology industry with the birth of the free software movement in the 1980s, which evolved into today’s hugely successful open source movement. Open source provides free access to software code in order for anyone to make changes and improvements to the final product.

This ability for huge networks of individuals to pool their collective expertise led to an unparalleled boom in technical and creative innovation.

Open, defined as ‘accessible to all, free from limitations, boundaries or restrictions’, has since been widely adopted across increasingly broad sectors of technology and the digital world.

Open access to what have become the basic building blocks of our society promises to provide incredible benefits to consumers, businesses and the public sector.

Governments realize this and are opening up the data they hold to third parties to enable the creation of services that will better serve their citizens. Businesses realize this and are opening up to their customers, giving them the ability to become true participants in the business rather than just sales targets.

The value of open is also being recognized in an increasing willingness by companies to collaborate and partner with third parties and even their rivals in order to better serve their customers. In fact, companies in all industries are opening dedicated open initiatives.  In July 2013, Rolls-Royce launched an open innovation program, joining the likes of Unilever, which launched its own in 2012.

The open philosophy is reaching into all areas of business. The European Commission in June 2013, for instance, in its Digital Agenda for Europe, called for better use of standards in procurement to stop businesses becoming locked in to ICT systems.

The World Wide Web, the backbone of today’s society and economy, was of course founded on a principle of openness that has resulted in the birth of some of the most innovative companies the world has ever seen.

TelefonicaDigitalSquareHighResTelefónica itself is also embracing open in various ways that are driving the open web, such as our support of Firefox OS, open data, including a partnership with the Open Data Institute, and open innovation, through initiatives such as our Wayra start-up incubator. The support that Telefónica shows for the Over the Air event itself is also about putting some energy back into the community to support open innovation.

However, we should be under no illusions of the challenges that remain ahead.  The open philosophy, despite the enormous benefits it offers all levels of society, is often fighting against a deeply engrained attitude of resistance to free access of information.

The growth of the open Web on mobile for instance, is being held back by a return to closed ecoystems and walled gardens. Consumers are being corralled into proprietary systems, only able to access certain content. Content bought through one service is not transferrable when consumers switch and choice is being dramatically curtailed.

We believe the value of open is worth fighting for. The concept is too important to be become merely a commodity, a truism that is devalued by those without a true commitment to the open philosophy.

#TheOpenAgenda is a cross-industry project collating the views of leading thinkers from across the open movement. It will dig deep into the meaning of open across three key areas: open web, open data and open innovation.

It will discover exactly how the value of open is being delivered in each area to benefit consumers, business, and society, discovering the challenges ahead and how they are being overcome.

The aim of #TheOpenAgenda is to catalyse global debate around the concept of open. Through a series of online and real world events, we will engage stakeholders across multiple industries to employ the very collaborative principles of the open movement to help define and spread the benefits of open.

As a worldwide society we need to debate the value and issues of open – it’s crucial to all our futures.

Join the debate on Twitter using #theopenagenda and @tefdigital – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Be sure to check out the Paper Enigma Challenge

PringlesBe sure to pick up a tin of Pringles when you’re at Over the Air this year, but not just to have a little snack – Franklin Heath have put together a little Paper Engima Challenge for you!
Franklin Heath are the developers of the Enigma Android app, which features realistic animation of the scrambler wheels and other features of using the Enigma machine.

“At least half of the money we raise with this app will be donated to the Bletchley Park Trust, dedicated to preserving the historic site where maths genius and computing pioneer Alan Turing and the other codebreakers worked.”

Read Franklin Heath’s blog post about the app here: http://franklinheath.co.uk/2012/02/04/our-first-app-published-enigma-simulator/.

Code Club at Over the Air!

Code Club

These days developers around the world are becoming aware of the science deficit in our youth, and in particular the computer science deficit. Grass roots efforts like Code Club are trying to bridge this gap by giving kids a way to learn basic coding skills and computer science concepts in a fun environment using the wonderful Scratch programming environment and other similar tools. At last year’s Over the Air we heard about Code Club pre-launch and it sounded exciting. I don’t think the organisers could have imagined how far Code Club could have come in one year. This year we are proud to announce that we will be running a Code Club workshop for kids (open to kids 7 and up but aimed at ages 9-11). If you’re coming along to Over The Air and you have kids in this age bracket, all you need to do is register them at this separate EventBrite page. If you are not already registered for Over the Air, you can register with this form and still attend our Saturday program. And kids of all ages are always welcome at the presentations of the hacks in the afternoon on Saturday. More info on the EventBrite page, but if you have any other questions or concerns feel free to contact us by tweeting us at @overtheair, or by email at info [at] overtheair.org. Happy coding!

GitHub donates Makey Makey kits and free Repositories

We are pleased to announce that GitHub is  donating 20 MaKey MaKey kits as Prizes toward the OTA13 Hack Day competition, as well as a free GitHub repository for all teams who enter the Hack Day competition


GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over three million people use GitHub to build amazing things together.

With the collaborative features of GitHub.com, our desktop and mobile apps, and GitHub Enterprise, it has never been easier for individuals and teams to write better code, faster. Every repository on GitHub comes with the tools needed to manage your project. Open to the community for public projects – secured for private projects. More people trust GitHub to host their code than any other host on the planet. We spend 24 hours a day tending to your repositories so you can focus on more important things.

Activity Streams – GitHub allows you to watch repositories and follow users to generate activity streams. Our activity streams show you everything important that’s happening with anyone or anything on GitHub.

Developer Profiles – Every developer gets their own profile page that is automatically updated with a stream of the important things they are doing on GitHub and a list of the Open Source projects they are hosting at GitHub. Many developers have started referring to GitHub Profiles as the new résumé.
Explore GitHub – Explore is a section of our site where we highlight the most interesting and popular repositories on GitHub right now. Additionally, our comprehensive searchhelps you find repositories, users, and code across all of GitHub.

The Prizes – MaKey MaKey kits

MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween. It comes ready to use out of the box with everything you see above: MaKey MaKey, Alligator Clips, USB Cable.

What Can I Make?

That’s up to you! First, load up a computer program or any webpage (yes that’s right, you’re surfing the internet to invent).

Let’s say you load up a piano. Then, instead of using the computer keyboard buttons to play the piano, you can hook up the MaKey MaKey to something fun, like bananas, and thebananas become your piano keys. Or let’s say you Google for an online “Pacman” game and draw a joystick with a pencil (yes, an actual ordinary pencil). Then you can play Pacman by touching the drawing with your finger. Or you could load up facebook or gmail and send a message on a custom-made alphabet soup keyboard….



Manning Publications donates Prizes for all

We are pleased to announce that Manning Publications is  donating Prizes toward the OTA13 Hack Day competition, as well as a free eBook and 42% discount for all  attendees.

manninglogo (1)

Manning publishes computer books for professionals–programmers, system administrators, designers, architects, managers and others.

“We think of our authors as the most valuable part of our business. We respect our readers and consider their interests and preferences every working day. Manning is a small, personal, old-world publisher where an author’s opinion is sought and a reader’s message is answered.

Manning’s focus is on computing titles at professional levels. We care about the quality of our books. We work with our authors to coax out of them the best writing they can produce. We consult with technical experts on book proposals and manuscripts, and we may use as many as two dozen reviewers in various stages of preparing a manuscript. The abilities of each author are nurtured to encourage him or her to write a first-rate book.

Our books are designed without gimmicks. Their main goal is elegance and readability–we feel the two are often the same. Our covers are understated, decorated with pictures of worldwide regional dress habits of two hundred years ago. Many of our books come with online reader support: authors answer the questions of their readers in our Web-based Author Online discussion forums.”

The Prizes

We will be working with the team at Manning Publications to select the books of interest to the Over the Air community. They have offered:
  1. One  free eBook download for all attendees of  Mobile Mapping Applications.
  2. A 42% discount on all manning.com products through an online offer.
  3. Free eBooks and pBooks to be given away as Prizes in the Hack Day competition.
More details will be made available as we get closer to the event.

Ready, Steady, GO!

Bletchley Park Mansion OTA11 - photo by Michael Dales

The 6th annual Over the Air will be held on Friday & Saturday the 27th & 28th of September at Bletchley Park. For two days we’ll be based at Station X, hacking in the shadows of the WWII Enigma & Lorenz code-breakers, and hanging out at the home of Colossus the world’s first programmable computer….we’re geeking out already!



Ariel Waldman's opening Keynote "Hacking Science & Space Exploration" at OTA12

Over the Air is a unique tech-agnostic event for and by the developer community,  featuring technical workshops where attendees can roll up their sleeves and tinker with new mobile & web platforms, operating systems, APIs & open hardware. The tutorial sessions feature real business cases, new insights and a healthy dollop of inspiration.




Inside the Mansion OTA12 - photo by Martin Cunningham

Attendees are invited to stay overnight so that they can work on ideas, apps and hacks on the fly – to be entered into the various Hack Day competition categories and demo’ed on the second day. It’s a great vibe of bean bags, gadgets, knowledge sharing, hacking & lots of good fun.

Hacking on the Lawn at OTA11





Because the event is free to attend (other than a small £5 donation to a related charity) we completely rely on the generosity of our sponsors to cover our costs and keep the event free to attend. If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, please get in touch with margaret at overtheair dot org.

Final Round-up from our Citizen Journalist

This year we invited long-time Over the Air attendee “Phone Fighter” and “Teen Dragon” Peter Price to be our Citizen Journalist and give us the word from the ground. Peter told us about the first sessions he attended at OTA12, and also interviewed Keynote Speaker Ariel Waldman.

But Peter went on to share his impressions of the Ignite Bletchley Park talks on Friday night, in which he also participated!

Last night the Ignite talks took place, informing us of everything from the fact that the colour of something effects us, such as red making us hungry blue not. Or an ingenious if not slightly impractical strategy for the UK to win the Eurovision through breaking the country up into several parts based on native language. It was fascinating to hear the theory that the way we touch phones is too aggressive through our jabbing motions but something more similar to Monkeys grooming, stroking, should be more used increasing our affection for these inanimate objects. I too took part last night giving a talk on Kony 2012 and social media as a youth campaigning tool and I have to tell you there is nothing stranger then hearings ones own voice over a mic. Thankfully I was able to get through the talk and hopefully I wasn’t too boring. Well-done to everyone who spoke – you were great.  And thanks to the audience for listening!

Peter took advantage of the opportunity to take one of the tours graciously set up by Bletchley Park and it’s volunteers Over the Air attendees on both Friday and Saturday.  Attendees joined volunteer PJ Evans on a tour of the park, to find out more about the work that went on there and come face to face with the Enigma, Turing’s codebreaking ‘Bombe’ and the World’s first programmable computer: Colossus. On Saturday, the National Museum of Computing very graciously opened it’s doors to all attendees of Over the Air, as well as offering guided tours with volunteers such as Chris Monk.

Well yesterday I got to see the replica Bombe, the Colossus and of course the enigma machine and through it was able to learn much of the Founding Fathers and Mothers of computing. Today I get to go to the National Museum of Computing – a unique place full to the tip with computers, from Acorns to the BBC Master Compact. The museum seems to understand the need for interaction with its audience, with individuals being able to play PAC-MAN – which I particularly enjoyed – to the Microsoft Flight Simulator – which I still can’t get into the air. The place is one of nostalgia for a time of strange beeping noises and extremely frustrating games. It feels odd to walk through this place with my free I-Pad (thanks OTA!), like a man from the future looking down at some ancient civilisation.

The second day of workshops and tutorial sessions was wrapped up in the Marquee Tent by our Closing Keynote speaker Francois Grey from the Citizen Cyberscience Centre:

Francois Grey’s ‘Citizen Science to Open Science – the Road Ahead’ the closing keynote speech was a fascinating look into scientific and technological collaboration, innovation and of course citizen science. Citizen Science is the idea that elitism in science is not something to be encouraged but in fact destroyed, the people must be involved and Francois shows how these citizen scientists can change the world. Such as MalariaControl.net set up in Africa to tackle the deadly disease which we learn now is used by governments in Africa to decide on investments in overcoming the disease such as bed nets and drug treatment. I in many ways feel in connection with the idea of citizen science through my role as citizen journalist. Being able to be part of this event despite my lack of coding skills and being immersed into this world of mobile technology and innovation, through it my interest and passion has greatly increased and we must hope that more citizens can get involved especially the youth in Over the Air.
And then of course, the crowing glory of the event: the Hack Day demo’s and Awards:
Now on to the hack-day competition, which we all know to be always hilarious, inspiring and extremely creative and today was no different. The demo started up with an app that in the spirit of Bletchley Park that allowed for ciphered messages to be sent, received, and then deciphered. The demo continued through with candidates presenting apps of various types including maps, tracking systems, music, and alcohol including an app called ‘How Many Beers?’ which allowed you to notify all your friends what you drank, how much, and where.  There was also an app specifically about beer, allowing users to find all the beer in the world through use of a mapping system.
Perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring apps was one that used light and proximity and made it into sound, something with n0 practical purpose, but something I think we can all agree is both cool and wonderfully scientific – two things that normally aren’t in the same sentence. One of my other favourites was the ‘naughty step enforcer’ that stops anyone from leaving the step by the phone setting off an alarm once you leave that point. Both simple and practical. Or the robot that catapults sweets at you based on light. The creator is the youngest OTA has had and it’s wonderful to see youth get involved, keep up the good work!
Of course no hack-day would be complete without a few hiccups, of which we had a few, but that should not deter all those who participated. What we saw was innovation no matter how small or what mistakes there were on the demo. Developers came together and worked through the night to make something new and different, and this is exactly how technological and scientific progress should be made. Through the collaboration and determination of people with real passion and of course a really cool idea, all of which we had a lot of at Over the Air.
Winners of the competition include team Glitch for Best User Experience & Best Use of Open APIs that allowed users to share info on online glitches and track bugs online, and team Edent for Best in Show with an app that made proximity and light into sound, a truly amazing and awe-inspiring app with both the scientific and cool factor.
Thank-you for your fantastic coverage of the event Peter – we look forward to seeing a Hack Day entry from you in some future year!