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The Open Knowledge Foundation Newsletter, December 2012

December 10, 2012 in Newsletter, Our Work

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Well here in the northern hemisphere the days are drawing in and winter is upon us. Autumn’s been ace though, and as busy as ever! OKFest went better than we could have imagined, and we got so excited that we started planning next year’s event in Geneva before we’d even left Helsinki! We’ve also been over in Tanzania, Ghana, and South Africa helping out at the Data Bootcamps, as well as welcoming two fab new members to the Network – Open Knowledge Foundation France and the Open Sustainability Working Group – and developing some new open-source tools. Phew!

But of course all this is only possible thanks to the fantastic community that we’re part of. As you know, the Open Knowledge Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, and we believe that the knowledge we’re opening should be available freely for all to use.

We need your support to make this happen. We would like you to consider becoming an Open Knowledge Foundation Supporter and either make a one-off donation or give a regular monthly contribution to support our growing network.

These funds will help us organise events, establish new local groups and working groups, maintain websites and respond to new challenges such as Hans Rosling’s recent plea for greater transparency around CO2 data.

As a token of our appreciation, we are offering beautiful sets of Public Domain Review postcards for those who sign up before Christmas (full details at okfn.org/support).

We hope you consider supporting our activities at this important time.

OKFest 2012

Wow. What a week. With over 1000 of you making the journey to Helsinki from over 50 different countries, 12,000 viewers on the online video streams, and 214,000 shares of our OKFestival Slideshare presentation, OKFestival 2012 was truly a remarkable moment in the history of the movement. If you haven’t seen them yet, you should check out the keynotes from Hans Rosling and Neelie Kroes, plus you’re welcome to browse the video archives. We’ll let you know when we’ve managed to digest the huge amount of stuff into a manageable set of post event info.

It was the first ever event to address open knowledge on such a scale, and its resounding success has assured us that we simply have to do it again. A Finnish open knowledge organisation, Open Knowledge Foundation Finland, will be founded to build on the OKFest buzz there, and next year’s event will take place in Geneva, in partnership with Swiss organisers. The year 2014 is up for grabs, so do get in touch if you reckon you know where it should be!

(Some of) What we’ve been up to


A warm welcome to our two newest members! The brand new local group for France have already been attracting attention, and our new Open Sustainability Working Group has already notched up over 100 members. It’s ace to see fresh ideas being carried forward. Get involved!

We were really pleased to be able to support and contribute to the Data Bootcamps which took place last month in Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana. The Bootcamps aim to provide hands-on training for citizens and journalists in countries with open government policies, so that the data released can actually be useful.


The OpenSpending team have brought us another great development, in the shape of a reporting tool to help journalists and analysts to pick the freshest and best departmental spending data to work with when exploring the UK central government expenditure. Meanwhile our German Chapter, Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland, launched its new tool, Stadt Land Code, an incubator to create digital tools for Citizens. Check out this video of Julia Kloiber discussing the project.

And the ever-busy Open Economics Working Group held a Data Party in Berlin, where they began work on creating a Failed Bank Tracker. The US is currently the only place that keeps a record of its failed banks – something the Open Economics folk are planning to change.

(A bit of) What you’ve been up to


Europeana, of which we are a partner, announced a really exciting data release: the metadata for over 20 million cultural heritage from its repository has been opened. It’s the biggest ever one-time dedication of cultural data to the public domain, and as such marks a major step forward towards a Cultural Commons.

We’re always very pleased to see our work being put to use by others, so it was ace to hear from the Fenyman’s Flowers project at UCL and the ForestWatchers.net project, who have each been using Pybossa to different ends: to unlock the secrets of magnetism, and to monitor the destruction of our rainforests.


It was super interesting to hear about some fascinating developments in the medical sphere, where questions around the efficacy of the leading anti-flu drugs is driving demands for open data from all clinical trials.

And a couple of cool developments in open government data, with new features for Parltrack making it possible to track and monitor the EU amendment process, and some super-scraping making Congress data back to 1973 available to all!

Ideas and Musings

In case you missed it, here’s some of the stuff we’ve been thinking about recently:

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