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A round-up of Open Knowledge Community events around the world!

Beatrice Martini - December 10, 2014 in Community, Community Stories, Events, Join us, Meetups, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Sprint / Hackday, Workshop

One of the best opportunities that being part of a community offers is the chance to collaborate and make things happen together – and when we want this to happen in sync, what’s better than convening an (in person or online) event?

Just before the end of the year, let’s collect a few highlights from the Open Knowledge Community events you posted about on the Community Stories Tumblr (so nicely curated by Kathleen Luschek of the Public Library of Science – thank you!)!

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Joseph De Guia, Open Knowledge Philippines local group ambassador, TJ Dimacali, journalist and media manager, and Happy Feraren, School of Data Fellow participated in the festival exhibition and lightning talks series spreading the word about the Open Government Data, Lobbying Transparency, Open Education, Open Spending working groups and the School of Data programme. Find out more about it here.

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Open Knowledge El Salvador local ambassador Iris Palma, joined the panel focusing on Open Data and Open Access together with Caroline Burle from W3C (Brazil) and Pilar Saenz from Fundacion Karisma (Colombia). Further information about the event can be found here.

In line with the OKFestival (in Berlin) and the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (in San Salvador), Open Knowledge El Salvador, Creative Commons El Salvador and Association of Librarians of El Salvador celebrated the first Open Knowledge Meeting in El Salvador). The event focused on Open Knowledge, Open Data, Creative Commons Licenses, Open Education and the Declaration for Open Knowledge in El Salvador. Congratulations!

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Open Knowledge Greece organized an open workshop to discuss and propose the positions and proposals of the group on the National Action Plan. Please find here all comments and suggestions that were stated in the meeting, published in both Greek and English.

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Open Knowledge France hosted a data expedition in Paris at La Gaité Lyrique during the digital festival Futur en Seine to find, analyse, visualise and tell stories with existing open data on air pollution. All about it on the group’s blog!

These are wonderful examples of what happens when we get together, all you event organizers out there rock! Are you running an Open Knowledge event? We want to hear from you – please submit quick posts about your events to the Community Tumblr (details about how/where here). Let’s share the community’s great work, inspire each other, and spread the open knowledge love far and wide!

Post a link to your favorite 2014 open knowledge event in the comments below:

All-star wrap-up of a month of Open Knowledge events all around the world – May 2014

Beatrice Martini - June 5, 2014 in Events, OKF Argentina, OKF Greece, OKF Italy, OKF Scotland, OKF Switzerland, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Sprint / Hackday, Working Groups, Workshop

Last month flew by! It’s already June and time to turn the spotlight on the Open Knowledge community’s events which rocked the month of May!

Bikestorming is a mobile app to grow urban cycling in cities around the world, developed by members of Open Knowledge Argentina’s community. Matías Kalwill gave a Pecha Kucha talk in Buenos Aires, and was invited to record an English version for Pecha Kucha’s international website. Check it out to learn about this exciting project featuring a strong open knowledge ecosystem, including open data, open web technologies and community-powered events inspired by School of Data’s Data Expeditions started on the International Open Data Day at Buenos Aires. Must watch!

Rob Edwards, Ally Tibbitt, Sarah Hutchinson, Jackie McKenzie and Jennifer Jones co-facilitated a one-day workshop, bringing together people working on FOI, on journalism, and on open data. Many were the discussion items: is the information disclosed under FOIA accessible as it could be? How can Open Government Data policies best be integrated with FOI disclosure? Can FOI disclosure logs help us understand what types of data are most in demand? Is greater ‘data literacy’ necessary for both the media and the public to understand the potential and limitations of data? Read more about it here.

  • Busy month for Open Knowledge Greece!

The month kicked off with the final celebration and presentations of the first Greek Data Expedition, ended on May 7. The data expedition was as an initiative by the Open Knowledge Foundation Chapter in Greece, working in collaboration with the IT Applications laboratory in Media (AUTH Department of Journalism), and Postgraduate WebScience (AUTH Department of Mathematics) in Thessaloniki. The data journalism issues analysed focused on air quality in Greece, new technologies in business, student Mobility in Europe and Greece and e-Government. The articles presenting the expeditions’ results will be posted on the Greek School of Data website. European-Student-Mobility Then on May 27 Open Knowledge Greece invited community members and curious citizens to an open workshop to develop together the statements and propositions in regards to the Greek Action Plan 2014 – 2016 for the Open Government Partnership Initiative. Keep up the good work, Greece!

DNAdigest, a non-profit organisation aiming to educate, facilitate and engage on issues regarding access to genomic data, hosted an editathon with the goal to make it easier to find new resources, online tools and recent content for genetics research when searching Wikipedia. The editathon was open to participants in London as well as online contributors. Offline meets online collaboration – well done! tumblr_inline_n5j63gAD791suuv9r

Sport is fun, sport is healthy, sport is a business – and sport is increasingly data, too. There are huge amounts of data collected by fans, on global spectator sport and local junior leagues, on big matches and tiny niches. And personal data, too: bike routes, running trails and more. The Sports hackdays explored and celebrated open sports data and also represented the first project aiming to kick-off a new Open Knowledge Working Group dedicated to all things sports and open data. We’re sure that with the World Cup approaching we’ll hear more about it very soon! Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 11.23.50 AM

What a month! Are you running an Open Knowledge event? We want to hear from you – share your event stories for next months’ global roundup! Please submit your blogposts about your June events to the Community Tumblr (details about how/where here) by July 6 in order to be featured in our all-star monthly wrap-up to be published in July on the main Open Knowledge blog and channels!

All-star wrap-up of a month of Open Knowledge events all around the world – April 2014

Beatrice Martini - May 23, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Featured, Meetups, OKF France, OKF Greece, OKF Italy, OKF Switzerland, OKFN France, Open Access, Open Data, Open Data Index, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Sprint / Hackday, Workshop

Last month we asked the Open knowledge community to start sharing more details about the events we all run, to discover how many people are rocking Open Knowledge events all around the world! The community has been great at responding the call and now we’re glad to feature some of the April events we got reports (and pictures and videos!) from.

The winners of the Apps4Greece award have been announced! Check out the winning apps, aiming to improve the functionality of cities, businesses, services and develop entrepreneurship and innovation.

Organised by Open Knowledge France after the Paris Open Government Conference (April 24-25) during which France announced it’s joining the Open Government Partnership – and gathering more the 50 people! Featuring Open Knowledge founder’s Rufus Pollock and discussions about the state of Open Data in France, Open Data Index, French version of School of Data Ecole des Données (congratulations!) and more.

  • Open Access Days in Egypt (Cairo, Egypt – April 27-28) Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 11.07.36 AM Open Knowledge Egypt, among many other organizations and researchers, participated in the 2-day event driven by the aim to promote open access to researchers in Egypt and the Middle East, and plant a seed for future initiatives.

We’re so looking forward to hearing everything about your upcoming events! Some juicy ones in the pipeline:

So, what you’re waiting for? It’s time to share your stories for next months’ global roundup! Please submit your blogposts about your May events to the Community Tumblr (details about how/where here) by June 4 in order to be featured in our all-star monthly wrap-up to be published in June on the main Open Knowledge blog and channels! Thank you! We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

How many people are rocking Open Knowledge events around the world? Let us know!

Beatrice Martini - April 1, 2014 in Events, Featured, Join us, Meetups, Sprint / Hackday, Workshop

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We’re getting to know each other more every day on mailing lists and through surveys, we know that plenty of you populate and build groundbreaking projects and communities through our network of 42 local groups, 20 working groups, infinite number of projects and beyond. Now, we’d like to know more about your Open Knowledge events (what can be called such a thing? Have look here) and in particular how many people join them! We want our gathering community to grow and want to know and understand how it grows so how we can best support its sustainable development.

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Call for action: let’s discover how many people love Open Knowledge events!

Step 1

When you run an Open Knowledge event, submit an article about it to the Open Knowledge Community Stories Tumblr. Your article can be short and sweet but should at least tell about:

  • what / where / how (topic, offline or online location, format, goals)
  • how many people attended – lets see how Open Kowledge is growing all around the world!
  • outcomes and / or upcoming plans for the future

In addition to that, anything you’d like to add – pictures, quotes and links to post-event reports by attendees of the event, graphs – is very welcome and much appreciated!

Step 2

At the end of each month we’ll write a crowded wrap-up blogpost about all the Open Knowledge events which took place in the previous weeks, to be published on the main Open Knowledge blog, and we’ll know how many people around the world are taking action gathering together to build the future of Open Knowledge.

Do you have an event in the pipeline in April? Run it, have fun!, and report it on the Tumblr by the end of April – it’ll be featured on our first wrap-up post to be published in early May!

OKFestival Call for Proposals ending soon! Submit your proposal now!

Beatrice Martini - March 26, 2014 in Events, Join us, OKFest, OKFestival, Sprint / Hackday, Workshop

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We extended the deadline to give you an extra 2 weeks to come up with unusually brilliant, inventive, participatory session proposals for OKFestival 2014, but we’re getting very close to crunch-time now! This Sunday, March 30th, is the final deadline to submit the session you want to run at the festival. Then it’s over to our expert Programme Team to start selecting the proposals that will shake things up, get things done and all round inspire people at this year’s event.

Don’t miss your chance to submit an amazing idea! We’d love to see you to run an immersive, exploratory, ground-breaking session that challenges the boundaries of the Open Movement and gets things moving forward! So submit your proposal now, and hopefully we’ll be seeing you in Berlin in July.

If you want to collaborate with others, use our OKFestival Mailing List to find yourself the perfect partner, or shout out on Twitter using #OKFest14. Either way, get planning and make sure your submission is with us by Sunday 30th March.

Join the “Get Ready For Open Data Day 2014!” Hangout on January 21!

Beatrice Martini - January 15, 2014 in Events, Featured, Meetups, Sprint / Hackday, Workshop

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Open Data Day 2014 is coming! On February 22 – just over a month!

And you might wonder: what is it exactly, where does it come from – and how can I organise or join an Open Data Day event?

We have answers for you and we are glad to invite you to join us for a “Get Ready For Open Data Day 2014!” Hangout. On Tuesday, January 21 (at 11:00 am EST/ 8:00 PST/ 16:00 GMT /17:00 CEST) David Eaves, Heather Leson and me will host a 30-60 minute Hangout focusing on:

  1. What is Open Day Day – History
  2. Planning tips
  3. Open Q&A

Reserve your spot now!

And if you can’t wait to start talking with other Open Data Day enthusiasts, no need to wait until next week! Join the event mailing list (please note: new URL) and meet curious citizens, journalists, coders, scientists, designers and data wranglers from all around the world running and joining Open Data Day events in person and online on the day. There are 49 events so far – plus Code for America’s CodeAcross 2014! Join the party!

PDF Liberation Hackathon – January 18-19

Guest - December 19, 2013 in Events, Featured, Open Access, Open Content, Sprint / Hackday

This guest blog post has been written by Marc Joffe, of Public Sector Credit Solutions.

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Open government data is valuable only to the extent that it can be used cost-effectively. When governments provide “open data” in the form of voluminous PDFs they offer the appearance of openness without its benefits. In this situation, the open government movement had two options: demand machine readable data or hack the PDFs – using technology to liberate the interesting data from them. The two approaches are complimentary; we can pursue both at the same time.

When it comes to liberating data from PDFs, advanced technologies are available but expensive. In my previous life as a technology manager at a financial firm, I was given the opportunity to purchase a sophisticated PDF extraction tool for USD 200,000 – not counting annual maintenance and implementation consulting costs.

This amount is beyond the reach of just about every startup and non-profit in the open data world. It is also beyond the means of most media organizations, so lowering the cost of PDF extraction is also a priority for journalists. The data journalism community has responded by developing software to harvest usable information from PDFs. Tabula, a tool written by Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Fellow Manuel Aristarán, extracts data from PDF tables in a form that can be readily imported to a spreadsheet – if the PDF was “printed” from a computer application. Introduced earlier this year, Tabula continues to evolve thanks to the volunteer efforts of Manuel, with help from OpenNews Fellow Mike Tigas and New York Times interactive developer Jeremy Merrill. Meanwhile, DocHive, a tool whose continuing development is being funded by a Knight Foundation grant, addresses PDFs that were created by scanning paper documents. DocHive is a project of Raleigh Public Record and is led by Charles and Edward Duncan.

These open source tools join a number of commercial offerings such as Able2Extract and ABBYY Fine Reader that extract data from PDFs. A more comprehensive list of open source and commercial resources is available here.

Unfortunately, the free and low cost tools available to data journalists and transparency advocates have limitations that hinder their ability to handle large scale tasks. If, like me, you want to submit hundreds of PDFs to a software tool, press “Go” and see large volumes of cleanly formatted data, you are out of luck. These limits reduce our ability to analyze and report on Parliamentary/Congressional financial disclosures, campaign contribution records and government budgets – which often arrive in volume, in PDF form.

PDF hacking has uses outside the government transparency / data journalism nexus. As Peter Murray-Rust has argued, the progress of science is being retarded because valuable data are “jailed” within PDF journal articles. For this reason, Dr. Rust and several colleagues have been developing AMI – a tool that leverages Apache PDFBox to mine usable content from scientific documents.

Whether your motive is to improve government, lower the cost of data journalism or free scientific data, you are welcome to join The PDF Liberation Hackathon on January 18-19, 2014 – sponsored by The Sunlight Foundation, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews and others. We’ll have hack sites at the NYU-Poly Incubator in New York, Chicago Community Trust, Sunlight’s Washington DC office and at RallyPad in San Francisco (one or two locations will have an opening social on the evening of the 17th). Developers can also join remotely because we will publish a number of clearly specified PDF extraction challenges before the hackathon.

Participants can work on one of the pre-specified challenges or choose their own PDF extraction projects. Ideally, hackathon teams will use (and hopefully improve upon) open source tools to meet the hacking challenges, but they will also be allowed to embed commercial tools into their projects as long as their licensing cost is less than $1000 and an unlimited trial is available.

Prizes of up to $500 will be awarded to winning entries. To receive a prize, a team must publish their source code on a GitHub public repository. To join the hackathon in DC or remotely, please sign up at Eventbrite; to hack with us in SF, please sign up via this Meetup. Signup links for New York and Chicago will be posted here. Please also complete our Google Form survey.

The PDF Liberation Hackathon is going to be a great opportunity to advance the state of the art when it comes to harvesting data from public documents. I hope you can join us.

Open Data Day 2014 is Coming Feb 22 – Time to Join the Fun!

Guest - December 17, 2013 in Events, Featured, Meetups, Sprint / Hackday, Workshop

This guest blog post has been written by David Eaves, public policy entrepreneur, open government activist and one of the initiators of Open Data Day. It was originally published on David’s blog.

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So, with much help from various community members (who reminded me that we need to get this rolling – looking at you Heather Leson), I’m pleased to say we are starting to gear up for Open Data Day 2014 on February 22nd, 2014.

From its humble beginnings of a conversation between a few friends who were interested in promoting and playing with open data, last year Open Data Day had locally organized events take place in over 100 cities around the world. Check out this video of Open Data Day in Kathmandu last year.

Why makes Open Data Day work? Mostly you. It is a global excuse for people in communities like yours to come together and organize an event that meets their needs. Whether that is a hackathon, a showcase and fair, lectures, workshops for local NGOs and businesses, training on data, or meetings with local politicians – people are free to organize around whatever they think their community needs. You can read more about how Open Data Day works on the event website.

Want to join in on the fun? I thought you’d never ask. Listed below are some different ways you can help make Open Data Day 2014 a success in your community!

a) how can i let everyone know about open data day

I love the enthusiasm. Here’s a tweet you can send:

#OpenData Day is community powered in a timezone near you http://opendataday.org #ODD2014

Yes, our hashtag is #ODD2014. Cause we are odd. And cause we love open data.

b) i’d like to participate!

Great! If you are interested in participating in check out the Open Data Day wiki. We’ve just unlocked the pages so cities haven’t been added yet but feel free to add your city to the list, and put down your name as interested in participating. You can even check to see who organized the event last year to see if they are interested in doing it again.

c) forget about participating, i want to coordinate an open data day event in my city.

Whoa! Very exciting! Here’s a short checklist of what to do:

  • If you didn’t organize one last year, check to see if anyone in your city did. It would be good to connect with them first.

  • Read the Open Data Day website. Basically, pick up on our vibe: we want Open Data Day to work for everyone, from novices who know little about data to experts like Kaggle participants and uber geeks like Bruce Schneier. These events have always been welcoming and encouraging – it is part of the design challenge.

  • Okay, now add your city to the list, let people know where it will be taking place (or that you are working on securing space), let them know a rough agenda, what to expect, and how they can contribute.

  • Add yourself to the 2014 Open Data Day map. (Hint: Wikipedia lists Lat/Long in the information side bar for each cities wiki page: “Coordinates: 43°42′N 79°24′W”)

  • Join the Open Data Day mailing list. Organizers tend to share best practices and tips here. It’s not serious, really just a help and support group. Check out resources like this and this about how to organize a successful event.

  • Start spreading the news!

d) i want to help more! how can open data day work more smoothly everywhere?

Okay, for the truly hardcore of you: right, we need help. Open Data day has grown. This means we’ve outgrown a whole bunch of our infrastructure… like our webpage! Everyone involved in this is a volunteer so… we have some extra heavy lifting we need help with. This includes:

What’s next?

I’m really looking forward to this year… I’ve lots more thoughts I’ll be sharing shortly.

Plus, I can’t wait to hear from you!

Planning Your Open Data Day 2014

Beatrice Martini - December 12, 2013 in Events, Featured, Join us, Meetups, News, Sprint / Hackday, Talks, Training, Workshop

Open Data Day is coming! On February 22, 2014 in a timezone near you!

What is it?

Open Data Day is a global community initiative to make and spread open data. People from all around the world gather together online or in person to make things with and around open data. Anyone is invited to get involved – from curious citizens to journalists, coders to scientists, designers to data wranglers.

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How does it work?

The Open Data Day events can have any kind of format / length and theme, but should all be connected by a couple of basic principles.

  • The events should happen on the same day – the next one, on February 22, 2014

  • The events should be inclusive and welcome diversity (epistemic, geographic, socio-demographic, of language and gender) – our movement is stronger when it is broader

  • Anyone can organise an event – add your name and online/ in person event to the wiki. For in person meetups: let’s try to keep it to one event per city, to maximize the local community’s strength. (Find tips on types of events in the Open Knowledge Foundation Event Handbook and in this post by our friend Michelle Thorne of Mozilla.)

  • Hacks and meetups should all involve open data

  • Show and share – each event should come up with at least one demo, brainstorm, proposal, to share online with the Open Data Day crowd (adding links to post-event materials, including pics and blog posts, to the wiki is warmly recommended). We will investigate more online spaces soon.

  • Virtual party – we aim to connect globally. Are you in a location with no in person event? Join us online via IRC, Hackpads or more (more details and links coming soon)

Some 2014 event examples? Take a look at this event organised in Washington DC at The World Bank. And did you already see the Open Data Day Japan website just launched today?

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Call to action: Help build Open Data Day!

The Open Data Day wiki needs to be prepped and polished to rock the 2014 action plan. We’re looking for stellar volunteers to help us with this. Skills required:

  • knowledge of Wiki management
  • ability to work with WordPress
  • design skills
  • mapping skills

Willing to help the wiki sprint? Get in touch with our very own Heather Leson. We’ll get this ready as soon as possible for everyone to add their Open Data Day events!

If you need some help planning your event, please do connect on the OKFN – Discuss mailing list or Open Data Day mailing list. Next week we will share some resources and planning help for local organizers.

Ready to open up data? Join the party!

Open Legislation Working Group Relaunched at OKCon

Oleg Lavrovsky - October 15, 2013 in Featured, OKCon, Sprint / Hackday, WG Open Legislation

Legal questions are at the heart of what openness is about, and there has always been interest at the Open Knowledge Foundation in open legislation – both in theory and in practice. Remarkable projects have been started around the world in open lobbying and open law data.

This has proven ample inspiration to put open law, legal apps and legislation in the spotlight at the Open Knowledge Conference 2013 in Geneva, during a four day satellite event conducted by members of the local Open Knowledge Foundation Switzerland chapter.

Law Mining Hackdays

We convened at OKCon’s conference venue for three days, then wrapped up with a day on campus at the University of Geneva. The Monday morning workshop saw over 25 people pack into the room from diverse backgrounds: hackers, lawyers, businesspeople, academics. They took part in an introduction to mining legal data, to see our expert panel present 11 challenges, and to hear John Sheridan speak about legislation.gov.uk, the open legislation portal of the United Kingdom: a remarkable project and valuable lesson in the particularities of working with legal data and making it accessible to all.


John Sheridan presentation on Vimeo

Wide public interest

Over the following three days dozens of people dropped into the specially set up OKCon hackspace to put brains, pens and computers together to make the most of the opportunity to collaborate across geographic and professional boundaries, pitching in to advance the projects during the busy conference schedule.

People took part who were already running successful legal software businesses, mingling with staunch advocates of open source and open data, data scientists applying Semantic Web ideas to meta-laws, students keenly visualizing the intricate networks of legal code, activists launching new awareness initiatives. On-the-ground experiences were being shared from around the world, and a “hacky”, let’s-do-it atmosphere prevailed.

In the buzz of excitement around OKCon and the ideas going around the room, three groups formed around our participants core areas of interests for the hackday, which we referred to as:

  • Case Law – working with data about legal cases, such as the proceedings of courts
  • Legal Concepts – making the laws and their workings more open, and
  • Usability of Law – making legal data more usable to the general public.

Law Mining Hackathon at OKCon 2013

Projects and initiatives

On Thursday we wrapped up the event with interesting results. It is clear that the law has much to say about openness, and that at the same time the road ahead to opening up the legal world to more analysis, visualization, and usable applications is long. While the technical understanding of laws around the world today continues to be more grounded in stories than systems, an enormous amount of work is being done to transform justice from a social artefact to a methodical science. The hackday projects are seeds of change:

§ Case Law as a Service (CLaaS) will make legal decisions on national and international levels available online and more accessible than ever. The team aims to create an open framework and platform architecture that allows users and a multitude of applications easy access to case law data. Concepts and demos included: Human Rights Case Laws, Case Law Linked Data, and an open search engine for the Swiss Supreme Court.

§ Open Law Search makes everyday law work easier by exposing valuable resources on the Open Web. Users can search and filter across a variety of domains especially relevant to European law. It is live and available here: http://www.openlaws.eu/

§ Open This Data! is a simple idea with an aim to help lift legal or technical restrictions on data, and get rapid community response to changes of terms of use. The Open Data Button is a new, easy, social way to raise awareness of not-so-open data.

§ Open Privacy Legislation assesses a range of government websites and rates them according to criteria from the Declaration of Parliamentary Openness. The result is this map of world legislative standards.


These projects are all open source, they need your feedback, support and championing. Please try their demos, check out the wiki pages, let us know over the mailing list if you have ideas to share with the teams.

Simultaneously to the conclusion of the Law Mining Hackdays, an exciting new project was unwrapped from across the Atlantic which we couldn’t help but admire: The Constitute Project, a beautifully designed search engine and explorer of the world’s constitutions. This and many more inspirations and open data sources will guide us in future endeavours.

What happens next?

The meetings at OKCon and Law Mining Hackathon results have led to a renewed interest and several new initiatives for the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Legislation Working Group, where Clemens Wass has stepped up to moderate the mailing list.

Discussions are re-starting after a few months of hiatus, and we are looking forward to more shared thoughts and observations on the world of legal openness. Please sign up at legislation.okfn.org and use it to send in your announcements, suggestions and ideas for projects on these themes. Stay on the list to stay on top of all the above, including news of upcoming events in the months ahead.

On behalf of my co-organizers, we extend our thanks to OKCon and the University of Geneva for hosting the event, to our experts and sponsors for their support, and most kindly to everyone who contributed sparks of knowledge and made the hackdays a blast of learning, collaboration and making. Let the #legalhack-ing continue!

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