Tony Hirst (blogger)

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Tony Hirst is an academic in the Department of Computing and Communications at the Open University,[1] but better known for the OUseful Blog[2] on practical applications of open data.

Notable achievements[edit]

In February 2009, Hirst and colleague Joss Winn, established WriteToReply, to re-publish the UK Government's Digital Britain Interim Report in a way that allowed readers to comment on each paragraph. This was among a number of experiments to promote greater online public participation in government consultations.[3]

In March 2009, Hirst created a technique for extracting and presenting subtitles generated from Twitter status updates in SubRip (*.srt) format[4]

Hirst won the 2011 "Open Up" contest for his ideas about the use of UCAS data.[5] The Open Up contest was run by TSO (formerly "The Stationery Office", a publishing company that supplies the UK Government) and came with a £50,000 development fund to enable the idea.[6] Hirst was chosen by a judging panel headed up by TSO director of digital products Robin Brattel, and included artificial intelligence expert Sir Nigel Richard Shadbolt and Open University director of communications Lucian J Hudson.[7][8]

Hirst was described as "brilliant" by The Guardian data blog for his work analysing the use of Twitter by journalists.[9][10]

Media work[edit]

Hirst has been an academic adviser and expert contributor to the BBC World Service programme Click, formerly Digital Planet. [11] [12]

He was co-founder of the Open University Robotics Outreach Group, which led to the Blue Peter/RoboFesta Competition in 2001. This competition - which required children to "Design a Really Useful Robot" - had 32,000 entries.[13]


  1. ^ "Biography at Arcadia Project". Arcadia Project. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  2. ^ Tony Hirst. "OUseful Blog". Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  3. ^ WriteToReply (Tony Hirst and Joss Winn) (5 February 2009). "What's it all about?". WriteToReply Blog. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
  4. ^ Tony Hirst (8 March 2009). "Twitter Powered Subtitles for Conference Audio/Videos on Youtube". OUseful Blog. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  5. ^ Tony Hirst (6 April 2011). "Blog Post From Tony Hirst, OpenUp Winner 2011". TSO OpenUp Blog. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  6. ^ "OpenUp – TSO Launches Open Data Challenge with £50,000 Development Fund" (Press release). TSO. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  7. ^ "UK Digital Technology takes another step – Open Data | Lucian J. Hudson, Director of Communications, The Open University – personal blog". 26 March 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  8. ^ "OpenUp Panel Chair Robin Brattel, shares the panel's 'judging thoughts' « TSO Open.Up Blog". 1 April 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  9. ^ Simon Rogers (11 April 2011). "UK journalists on Twitter: how they all follow each other". Guardian Data Blog. Retrieved 11 April 2011. The brilliant Tony Hirst on his blog Ouseful has [...]
  10. ^ Tony Hirst (10 April 2011). "UK Journalists on Twitter". OUseful Blog. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  11. ^ "BBC World Service Programmes - Click 01/02/2011". 1 February 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011. In the first of a series of programmes on openness, Tony Hirst of the Open University joins Gareth Mitchell to discuss these ideas, looking at open source, open data and open standards.
  12. ^ "Digital Planet investigates the history of the PC". 15 May 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2011. Dr Tony Hirst from the Department of Communication and Systems at The Open University and academic advisor for the series [...]
  13. ^ "The Blue Peter – RoboFesta Robot Design Competition". 23 March 2001. Retrieved 5 May 2011.