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Clare Moriarty on #DataDrivenDefra and #DataMash

Defra's Permanent Secretary talks #DataDrivenDefra, #DataMash and the joy of unconferences in this video and full transcription.

Action! Um... so: Clare thank you very much for spending the time with us today can you just introduce yourself?

Yes. I’m Clare Moriarty. I’m the Permanent Secretary for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

#DataDrivenDefra [ed note: we asked clare what does #datadrivendefra mean to you?)

So #DataDrivenDefra to me is about really good decisions that are informed by the best data we can have. It’s about really good conversations, because good data sparks good conversations. It’s about connections, because when we see when we make really good use of the data we have got it creates new connections, and we can think about ways in which we could apply something over here to over here. It’s about innovation. It’s about doing things we haven't thought of. It’s about generating questions that we didn’t even know needed to be asked.

We are launching the tickets for #DataMash. Day 2, we are running as an unconference, and I wondered: for those people that haven’t been to an unconference before, what you would think of an unconference as?

So, unconference to me is where there is no distinction between speakers and participants, which you get at a standard conference... and the people - all the people - that are there set the agenda. It requires really rather very good organisation. It can sound a bit like chaos, but my experience of unconferences is that they aren't chaotic when they really work well... but the critical bit of an unconference is the first bit where the agenda is set by people coming up and pitching the things that they would like to talk about. So a well ordered process: people say who they are, what the title of the session they would like to run is, and they get 30 seconds to describe it. A show of hands... not to determine whether you can or can't have that session but just to match up the session with the size of room. A bit of magical people-wizardry - that turns a row of people saying what they would like to have a session about, into a grid that tells everybody when and where the sessions will be and what’s happening when - that then creates the rhythm for a day where you can go to a number of different sessions on all sorts of things.

The really important thing is that the things that are being talked about are the things that people want to talk about... and so the people that are there are trusting each other - are trusting themselves - to be able to create good content out of all the experience of all the people that are there and to do it in an inclusive, supportive, encouraging, energetic, way that does not depend on somebody else saying: at this point you should do this... and at this point you should do this.

On day 1 we are holding it as a conference and there will be a panel session (ed note. [The closing panel session is with;

I just wondered for those people that have only been to unconferences before what a panel session is.

Ok, let me give it a go. I would describe a panel session as being a bit like a structured conversation. Usually it would start with a question or observation from somebody in the audience, which is of course not a concept that really exists in an unconference but somebody would ask a question or make an observation and then one or more of the people on the panel would give their response to that and reflections on it.

When a panel session works really well it does turn into more of a conversation into a conversation between the panel and potentially with the original person that has asked the question and also more widely in the audience.

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