I am an optimist (too much so, some would say), and so I tend to see the proverbial glass half full. But I think no one would disagree that Fammi sapere – a small but lively Woodstack of Italian open data, held last Saturday – encourages optimism. I learned many interesting things, and came back with the idea that:
- Italy has the skill endowments to build and sustain an effective open data policy. We’ve got the law experts like Ernesto Belisario; the geeks, like Matteo Brunati; the communicators, like Nicola Mattina; and even a few entrepreneurs, like the fine folks at OpenPolis and Extrategy.
- civil servants are starting to warm up to the theme. At Fammi sapere, besides some local politicians and civil servants, some national level civil servants played a central role: Aline Pennisi from the State’s Accounting Service; my friend Paola Casavola, an interesting figure of researcher-public manager, formerly with Banca d’Italia and the Ministry of Economic Development; ISTAT’s Vincenzo Patruno
- above all, we were able to build a many-voiced, high-quality conversation. It’s clear people are really interested, hard skills are highly valued, and mutual respect is the general rule. I’m saying “we” because I played a small role in consolidating this community through the Spaghetti Open Data project, its mailing list in particular; the Fammi sapere group, led by Marco Scaloni, also seems to blend in the scene. It is no coincidence they organized an exemplary event, with very little hype and a lot of beef.
Over and above open data, a more open and conversational approach to government really seens about to blossom in the Italian civil society. I can feel it in the many people who are writing to me following the publication of Wikicrazia, offering me a new view of Italy. It is a silent spring, far from the spotlights of the media, and this is very good: I hope to keep harvesting its fruits with the excuse of presenting the book.