Single pieces of information of every nature (from pictures to numbers, textual definitions, maps, audio …) that:

  • are direct descriptions of facts (e.g. the path followed by a river, as drawable on a map, average temperatures in some city, tax brackets in some country …) or are closely related to facts, and as such are not copyrightable
  • are reproducible without ambiguities when the method used to generate them is known in all its detail. An aerial photograph is data because two identical cameras taking a shot from the same point in the same moment with the same settings would produce (to all practical purposes) the same picture, whereas or description of the same scene by two individuals can be very different
  • are parts, or can be immediately used as parts, of larger information or knowledge structures
  • have (almost always) much more meaning and value when linked among them and completed by metadata. Metadata are simply data about other data, rather than about some facts. The day when a collection of digital pictures was taken would be a common metadata for all those digital pictures
  • can, due to all the characteristics above, be expressed and stored in digital formats, even when they weren’t originally generated in that form, and once digital can be processed by computers directly in those formats, to build other data, find metadata and make decisions.

Taken from “Open Data, Open Society: a research project about openness of public data in EU local administration” by Marco Fioretti for the Laboratory of Economics and Management of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa (2011) and licensed under creative commons.


A work is open if its manner of distribution satisfies the following conditions:

  • accessibility meaning the work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without charge. The work must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form
  • redistributable meaning the license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the work either on its own or as part of a package made from works from many different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale or distribution. The rights attached to the work must apply to all to whom it is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties
  • reusable meaning the license must allow for modifications and derivative works and must allow them to be distributed under the terms of the original work
  • absence of technological restriction meaning the work must be provided in such a form that there are no technological obstacles to the performance of the above activities. This can be achieved by the provision of the work in an open data format, i.e. one whose specification is publicly and freely available and which places no restrictions monetary or otherwise upon its use
  • attributable meaning the license may require as a condition for redistribution and re-use the attribution of the contributors and creators to the work. If this condition is imposed it must not be onerous. For example if attribution is required a list of those requiring attribution should accompany the work
  • integrity meaning the license may require as a condition for the work being distributed in modified form that the resulting work carry a different name or version number from the original work
  • indiscriminate meaning the license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons and must not restrict anyone from making use of the work in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the work from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research
  • non-specificity meaning the rights attached to the work must not depend on the work being part of a particular package. If the work is extracted from that package and used or distributed within the terms of the work’s license, all parties to whom the work is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original package
  • non-restrictive meaning the license must not place restrictions on other works that are distributed along with the licensed work. For example, the license must not insist that all other works distributed on the same medium are open

This is taken from the Open Definition version 1.1 from the Open Knowledge Foundation

Data Journalism

The Data Journalism Handbook v0.1


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