That’s right! OpenCorporates is putting on another #FlashHacks event this month, at PyCon – UK’s largest gathering of Python developers. We met many passionate Python developers at OKFest and online during our last “10 million datapoints in 10 days” campaign, and think it’s a great opportunity to further strengthen the already strong ties between the open data and Python communities.
For those of you who don’t know what a #FlashHack is – they are like Flash Mobs – but with coders who can write scrapers and of course exchange the dancing for coding. Run as a mini-hack, #FlashHacks atPyCon UK will aim to find and scrape datasets related to the Extractives industry. These datasets are then published as open data on OpenCorporates. From oil exploration in Nigeria, fracking in UK or mining in East Africa – this is the topic gets right at the heart of many of the most important issues of our time, including sustainability, environment, corporate power, ethical behaviour, tax and lobbying.
The Oil & Gas sector has many multinational corporations that have vast networks and influence and yet much of this information remains secret. Open data provides an opportunity to map connections between thousands of companies and the ownership of them. This information can be used by campaigners, researchers, NGOs, academics and governments.
If you’re a coder but have never written a bot, #FlashHacks are a great way to write your first one! There will be OpenCorporates staff and other experienced Python bot writers on hand to support you.
Why is this important?
Company information is often not available and when it is, it is buried under hard-to-use websites and PDFs. The work of the open data and transparency community has brought a tide of change. Yet, action on this front remains slow. And that’s why scraping is at the heart of the open data movement!
Our new crowdscraping platform allows developers to spend a few hours to release open data that can be of monumental importance to NGOs and journalists. On the other hand, people who cannot code can still play an important part by finding datasets, or helping coders make sense of the often complex websites. You can stay involved with this after #FlashHacks ends and be proud of your contribution to open data in the Extractives sector including evidence of environmental damage, oil licenses, mining licenses and fracking permits.
If you would like to read news stories related to the Extractives Industry, check out this collection.
Sounds like something you would like to be a part of? Join us!
If you are already attending PyCon UK then all you need to do is rock up on Monday. If you aren’t planning on coming to PyCon UK would still like to come to #FlashHacks, then you can register on Eventbrite with a promo code. To get the promo code, just email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can’t make it to PyCon UK but want to be a part of it – you can still sign up for a mission online! If you can’t write code in Ruby or Python, or code at all – worry not! You can still be part of the movement by finding these critical datasets which can be scraped.
See you online or at PyCon UK!