The Open Knowledge Foundation Newsletter, July-August 2012
This newsletter comes to you on the eve of the world’s biggest ever open knowledge event, OKFest 2012. It has been an incredible journey getting to this point, as a movement and as an organisation. We really hope you’ll be making the physical journey with us to Helsinki next week, to create, innovate and celebrate together. If you haven’t got your tickets yet, there are still a few available here, although some types are already gone. Don’t miss out on this moment in our movement!
Somehow, in amongst all the festival fever, we have managed to do quite a lot of other things in the last couple of months, some of which you can find out about below. And you’ve been busy too! From Mexico to Georgia, we love hearing your tales, here and on the blog – so get in touch if you’ve got a story to tell!
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It’s literally days away now, and we can barely believe how fast it’s come around! Our bags are packed, and we’re just about ready – are you? With over 600 people registered, OKFest is set to be the world’s biggest ever open knowledge event. In an era of global digital communications, significant benefits are gained in all sectors of the society by opening up knowledge, including science, culture, governance and economy. Next week will reveal what can happen when hundreds of community-builders, developers, scientists, academics, government and civil society representatives, teachers, students and open data experts come together to build new things and provoke positive change. It is a crucial moment in the open knowledge movement. Here’s a little round up of what to expect…
- Over 13 different topic streams, from “Transparency and Accountability” to “Openness in Sustainability” – you can get all the details through the online Festival Schedule
- Prestigious and inspiring keynote speakers, from Hans Rosling to Anneli Jäätteenmäki to Farida Vis to Carl-Christian Buhr to Carlos Rossel
- Crowdsourced evening events including an Open Sauna evening, a Helsinki barhop, a series of Thematic Dinners based on the Harvard Berkman Centre model, and much more to surprise and delight!
- Free Public Hackathons and Calls for Participation, including a News App Hackday hosed by Helsingin Sanomat, Take Action lightning talks on gender equality and diversity hosted by Wikimedia, a Green Hackathon hosted by us, and much, much more!
If you’ve (somehow) missed out on the excitement until now, you have until September 16th to grab the last remaining tickets. We really can’t wait to see you there!
(Some of) What we’ve been up to…
OKFN Labs is our (fairly) new home for experimental and prototype projects, and is generally a very cool place to hang out. Incorporating some of our more long term endeavours like Annotator and YourTopia, it’s a veritable hotbed of new activity and development. One of our favourite projects at the moment is PyBossa, a free, open-source crowd-sourcing and micro-tasking platform. It enables people to create and run projects that utilise online assistance in performing tasks that require human cognition such as image classification, transcription, geocoding and more. Get involved!
Another nice little product was our Ending Secrecy work with Global Witness, creating visualisations to explain why global transparency rules matter. And if you’d like to join in with our Labs work, why not come to a Labs Sprint? The first will be focused on energy data, in Berlin from the 1st-8th October – do come along!
OKF in India
The lovely Laura and Lucy from the OKFN community team went on a visit to India (lucky for some!), sharing stories and experiences with the rapidly expanding open data movement over there. You can read about their journey on the OKF blog, as they travelled from the Fifth Elephant Conference in Bangalore, onto Chennai where they hooked up with locals Transparent Chennai, then organised their own workshop in Mumbai, and finally arrived in Delhi, the “policy capital” of India. Phew!
The Open Bibliography crew have been hard at work as ever, and July saw our biggest celebration of Open Bibliographic Data, BiblioHack. Work was begun on a “Bibliographic Toolkit,” which would bring together Open Knowledge Foundation projects like TEXTUS and BibServer with other tools available on the web. In August, the JISC Open Biblio 2 project was brought to a successful conclusion, after second year of development and advocacy – you can read the full report here. Keep up to date with all our bibliographic work on the Working Group homepage.
And some new members of the family…
- Our new Data Protocols project was launched, a community-driven effort to develop simple, light-weight protocols and formats for distributed and collaborative work with data.
- The Linked Open Vocabularies project officially joined the Open Knowledge Foundation family, providing single-stop access to the Vocabulary Commons ecosystem.
- And we got some real-life new members, in the shape of Jane Silber and Gavin Starks, who have joined the OKF Board!
(A bit of) What you’ve been up to…
And of course, you lot have been super busy too! Here are a few of your news highlights from the blog:
- OpenDataMX saw the production of some great new work in just 36 hours, based on public sector data.
- The Declaration on Parliamentary Openness was launched by the National Democratic Institute to promote legislative openness.
- The first Open Data and Democracy Initiative Hackathon took place in Cape Town, South Africa, with results suggesting a bright future for the Open Data movement over there.
- We heard about Elva, a new crowdsourcing tool to help improve the security of communities in the turbulent Shida Kartli region of Georgia.
- Creative Commons brought out a new set of licenses, v4.0, which aim to better meet the needs of open data publishers and users.
- And Open Data Research are offering $25-75,000 to fund research projects into the impact of open data initiatives in developing countries.
In case you missed it, here’s some of the stuff we’ve been thinking about on the blog – do get in touch if you have thoughts to share!
- Rufus Pollock wrote a two part piece on “Managing Expectations”, available here and here, looking at the limitations of open data and the strategies necessary to ensure it fulfills its potential, socially, culturally and economically.
- While Jonathan Gray’s post, “Science, Data and the Public” (also published in the Guardian), explored the likely impact of developing EC policy on access to scientific information on science and public engagement with science.
Dates for your diary
There is life beyond OKFest – lots of it! Here are a few key dates for your diaries, and remember to check Meetups for details of OKFN stuff in your area
- OKFN Energy Lab Sprint, 1st-8th October, Berlin
- OpenStreetMap Conference, 19th-20th October, Edinburgh
- The Big Clean, 3rd November, Prague and everywhere