Roots, branches, leaves and sunlight


One of the fundamental instruments that every lawyer has at their disposal, are the basic provisions, and the current positions, of law. Not “a law”, not “the law”. Just law. A changing, constantly evolving thing, a system. And this system being one of the fundamental instruments of our society, it makes sense that accessing, interpreting, and understanding the ramifications of legal process through data is a prerogative of citizen movements.

The law is reason, free from passion.
– Aristotle [Book III, 1287a.32]

During our until now only major event with the Open Knowledge network, the 2013 OKCon, we organized a hackathon at the University of Geneva dedicated to legal data. In the past five years I have often looked back at what we learned and started then, and wondered what could be achieved with more effort in this somewhat overlooked area of open data activism.

In recent times, this meant supporting the efforts of innovators in the legal profession, like @dhuerlimann

Or @chgutknecht

Or @myrmoteras

Or @florianducommun

But, what’s a hack like me got to do in these kind of high level discussions? At this point I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our neighbouring chapters like Open Knowledge Deutchland (Offene Gesetze) and Regards Citoyens in France for keeping the path to “citizen legal” well lit.

For over two years now, the new Swiss Legal Tech Association has been upgrading the status quo, making it possible for us to support and participate in innovative legal projects like and Privacy Butler.

The latter was the subject of my Adventshack, updating the frontpage, linking to further information & live tools to help users make sense of Terms of Use and other legalese being reprogrammed and refactored in the age of A.I.

Let’s smarten up for the testing times ahead. And, lest I forget, big kudos to @lauxandlaw for many years of service and huge contributions to the open data cause. This whole Advent’s calendar is partially an answer to your “landscape” suggestions of some years back.

Thank you all.

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According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, via Wikipedia, aviation is responsible for around 3.5 percent of anthropogenic climate change. Skip the jet lag and be a data tourist!

Yes, it is painful to live in a globalized world, with families scattered across the seven seas, making by with the odd Skype call or online gaming session to keep relationships from dissolving into pixel dust. The truly enabled global citizen lives up in the air (Handelszeitung). The flip side of the coin is the economic worth of tourism, locally, nationally (BFS), internationally (World Bank). And don’t forget nature tourism (a.k.a. eco-tourism) as promoter of sustainability.


But seriously, now. My :christmas_tree: present this year to my (big on travel) extended family was an Oculus Go headset, set up with the best of National Geographic, Arte 360, Google Earth, etc. I made sure everyone got a taste of virtual travel: if it convinces just one person to stay at home instead of a homestay, it will more than pay for itself.

We could try talking a tourism promoter into doing some VR projects, complete with catering experiences. You could enjoy the sounds and smells of an exotic destination, spend the time to learn the language and customs. And why not? Forget your passport, all you need is a healthy tolerance for “a wet, cold northern British theme park where 18 year-olds aggressively strap you into a VR headset, ‘set you off’, vigorously shake your legs and make whooshing noises in your ear.” (Forbes)

About those whooshing noises. We ran an event last year dedicated to the subject, and - I gotta say - it was one of the best experiences I ever had as a participant. Being a tourist in Switzerland rocks. The transport, hotels, the people are at the top of their game.

I’m not going to go into the details of the government program we tried to support and all that here. You’ll find some of this in the earlier forum thread. Here I just want to point out that those Hackdays were the perfect excuse to sink deep into two brilliant communities: OpenStreetMap and Open Network Infrastructure.

To whom my double Adventshack is dedicated:

This is a dataset of readings from the Things Network around Zürich, prepared earlier this year for the TWIST 2018 hackathon. I cleaned the README up a bit, converted to GeoJSON using QGIS, and added a geospatial Data Package descriptor for visualizing the gateways data on GitHub or on the new DataHub.

While editing OpenStreetMap during a walk in the Berner Oberland, my user got suspended. Admittedly I was being a bit silly with my profile, and had a load of links in my content, but still … ouch! I lost the content of an excuisitely written Diary entry. So I poked around the code of the editor (Ruby on Rails), and made a suggestion to make the form submission a remote procedure call. Thankfully the powers-that-be (fellow editors) have already unbanned me and restored my diary entry :pray:

Safe travels.

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An image is worth a thousand words, a logo that at least a hundredfold. The last box in this series is a token of gratitude, for the community that kept the open data spirit going strong this year, and really made #makeopendata happen with their code prowess, events and spirit. Thank you, @csarasua and all you Linked Data hackers!

My Adventshack implements a long asked for feature request in Dribdat, the showcase application used at the Wikidata hackathon this year:

There was a special reason to implement this today - a new website puts together all the superb results of this year’s Open Data Advent Cal at opü.ch - type it in to delight your inner geek!

And keep an eye out for next year’s activities.

With this, my own Advent’s Cal for this year is complete. Of course, many boxes and topics are missing. We are part of a global map, and the task of Linking the Data out there remains for the jungle path ahead. So we can keep on hackin’.

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You can find all my entries, and roughly 400 others, at

There is now also a blog post with a short summary of the above entries, and a little bit of extra background on the Challenge.

Special thanks to Oli and team at Puzzle and @OD_ACal for giving this lovely month an extra flavour of openness. <3

Happy Holidays :christmas_tree: and New Year to you all!