Open data and children's book comes together for first Mix & Mash winner

Open data and children's book comes together for first Mix & Mash winner

By combining beautiful illustrations, a simple narrative and highly interactive data – Sadaf Lourie (writer), Riccardo Scott (illustrator), Jarred Bishop (designer/developer) and Alex Gibson (data/developer) have won the May Showcase Award from the Mix & Mash competition – along with a $500 cash prize.

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Mix & Mash is an initiative by Creative Commons Aotearoa, DigitalNZ and the National Library of New Zealand  launched earlier this year to encourage the reuse of open data by remixing it into original content. There are three rounds to the competition, with a supreme winner to be announced at the end of the year.

The theme for the first round was "stories about the past'. The winning quartet's digital book called What Happened? follows a girl named Olive as she explores a walking track with her mother and asks questions about the different things she discovers along the way.

Olive's questions are answered by her mother and her own deductive reasoning, with infographics and supporting data presented to the reader by tapping on different parts of the illustration. The book uses a variety of openly available data sets, including data.govt.nz, geospatial information and overseas sources.

The book is built using HTML and utilises responsive design – adapting its content to different screen sizes.

The book's creators say the idea was to show readers that there are many answers to the questions we have about nature and to do it in an attractive and engaging way. The judges were impressed by What Happened?'s polish, interactivity and illustrations – further adding that it could easily be made into a physical book.

Matt MacGregor of Creative Commons Aotearoa says he was blown away by the level of entries received. He says projects like What Happened? shows the reuse of data in a positive light.

"It's good to see it as something positive, which it often isn't portrayed as in the media. The winners help reframe the public perception of reusing content legally," he says.

The May Showcase Student Award went to The Story of Rangitoto, a video piece by three brothers aged 11, 9 and 6 – who too won $500 for their effort.

The entries for the August round of Mix & Mash is now open.