Meet a DMer: Siddharth Desai


Meet a DMer.

On the DataMeet list we have started referring to each other as DMers.  So I wanted to start highlighting people who are pretty interesting and have a great insights into open data.

Siddharth Desai is one of our super volunteers, he is steadfast in his commitment to helping out with Open Data  Camps and coming to any event in Bangalore that he can.  I was really happy to interview him and learn about why open data is such an interest to him.

Where are you from? What do you do?

I am from a town in Goa called Vasco-da-gama. Moved to Bangalore 10 years ago for professional reasons. Currently, I am working as a Software Architect with Nokia(formerly NSN). My job involves building solutions in the telecom domain. I do quite a bit of data analysis and visualization as part of my work. The type of data involved is mostly engineering and planning related data.

How did you find out about DataMeet?

I have been following the Open Data Movement for some time now. I realized there were some interesting things happening here in India when I saw the event notification for the first Open Data Camp in 2012. That’s when I heard about the DataMeet and have been on the list ever since.

Do you believe in open data? and why?

I believe in open data. It’s simply a great leveler. For most part of human history, the masses have been fooled and controlled because they didn’t have access to information that a select few did. Then came along Gutenberg who invented the printing press. Suddenly, knowledge could get out of the confines of a few and into the hands of many. And that empowered people and eventually led to greater equity.

The Internet and Wikipedia have done something similar in our times. The Open Data movement is another (huge) step forward in putting an end to all un-necessary information asymmetry.

What do you hope to learn? Contribute?

As part of my work, I have acquired the skills for making sense of complex data sets. I am hoping to put those skills to good use by contributing to any initiative that requires support.

Everytime I am at a data meet or data camp, I get to learn so much about life – about challenges in different non technical areas of data, like social and political contexts around data and information.

What is your impression of the datameet community?

Where else do people from such a diverse background meet. We have Academics and Hackers, NGOs and Bureaucrats, Journalists and Businessmen, Designers and more. With such an impressive line-up , there is huge potential to make an impact.

What kind of civic projects do you work on? What kinds of civic projects are you interested in working on?

Really anything that does good. Particularly, if anyone has any ideas in medical or healthcare spaces, I’d be glad to join. I’ve noticed during various illnesses in the family, that a lot of information on treatment efficacy, side effects, doctor/hospital failures, is shrouded in secrecy. This really needs to be available openly to all for closer scrutiny.

Share a visualization that you saw recently that made a big impression? Share an article you have read recently that made a big impression? (does not have to be data related)

There is this visualization by David McCandless that I love (partly because I enjoy sci-fi a lot).  It visualizes time travel in popular films and tv series. The approach to displaying a non-linear timeline is pretty creative.

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