Module 3. Unit 2. Sharing information through open data

When sharing data online, three aspects deserve particular attention, as Shannon and Weaver explained in their seminal article “The Mathematical Theory of Communication” (1949):

  • Technical: accuracy of transmission
  • Semantic: precision in transferring the meaning
  • Effectiveness: impact on conduct

Effective data communication is based on six main principles (Jones, B., 2014):

  1. Know your goal: your audience, desired effect, intended meaning will guide your message.
  2. Use the Right Data: select a proper amount of data, ensuring ethical and reliable messages.
  3. Select suitable visualizations: use graphical representations to translate your data.
  4. Design for Aesthetics: engage your audience with attractive data visualizations (e.g. colours, fonts, labels, images).
  5. Choose an Effective Medium and Channel: the form and way of delivery of the message influence its impact on the audience.
  6. Check the results: be careful of reach (did the audience receive the message?), understanding (was it interpreted in the right way?), impact (Was the reaction the same you expected?) (Reilly, 2014).

Visualizations can facilitate the meaning of data, making them “alive”, increasing their persuasiveness and highlighting trends, connections, patterns (Verghese). According to the Harvard Business Review, visualizations should always: be tailored for the audience, provide a common reference for interpretation, convey a story. Making an emotional connection to your audience is a sign of proper use of data visualizations (Zandan).

Before publishing your data, remember to reference them appropriately, paying adequate recognition of merits to the author. Once online, which are the terms of use of your data?

Open data commons offer legal tools and licenses to support the publication, provision and use of open data. Another well-known option is Creative Commons (CC) licensesthey offer a strong legal code made of a short summary and a machine-readable code, with different kinds of authorisations and limits on re-use. Generally, CC0 license is advised to make a resource effectively “open”.


  • Share data, information and digital content through appropriate digital technologies
  • Use adequate referencing and attribution practices

DigComp Competence area 2.2 Sharing through digital technologies