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Celebrating Open Access Week by highlighting community projects!

Christian Villum - October 20, 2014 in Featured, Open Access

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This week is Open Access Week all around the world, and from Open Knowledge’s side we are following up on last year’s tradition by putting together a blog post series to highlight great Open Access projects and activities in communities around the world. Every day this week will feature new writers and activities.

Open Access Week, a global event now entering its eighth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research. This year’s theme is “Generation Open”, and what better way to celebrate that then to highlight some of all the amazing work out there. This past year has seen lots in great progress and with the Open Knowledge blog we want to help amplify this amazing work done in communities around the world:

  • TUESDAY, Jonathan Gray from Open Knowledge: “New Open Knowledge Initiative on the Future of Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences” (link)
  • WEDNESDAY, David Carroll from Open Access Button: “New Open Access Button launches as part of Open Access Week” (link)
  • THURSDAY, Alma Swan from SPARC Europe: “Open Access and the humanities: On our travels round the UK” (link)
  • FRIDAY, Jenny Molloy from Open Science working group: “Uncovering the true cost of access” (link)
  • SATURDAY, Kshitiz Khanal from Open Knowledge Nepal: “Open Access Week in Nepal” (link)
  • SUNDAY, Miguel Said from Open Knowledge Brazil: “Nature-branded journal goes Open Access-only: Can we celebrate already?” (link) – and Celya Gruson-Daniel from Open Knowledge France: “Let’s imagine a creative format for Open Access” (link)

We’re hoping that this series can inspire even more work around Open Access in the year to come and that our community will use this week to get involved both locally and globally. A good first step is to sign up at http://www.openaccessweek.org for access to a plethora of support resources, and to connect with the worldwide Open Access Week community. Another way to connect is to join the Open Access working group.

Open Access Week is an invaluable chance to connect the global momentum toward open sharing with the advancement of policy changes on the local level. Universities, colleges, research institutes, funding agencies, libraries, and think tanks use Open Access Week as a platform to host faculty votes on campus open-access policies, to issue reports on the societal and economic benefits of Open Access, to commit new funds in support of open-access publication, and more. Let’s add to their brilliant work this week!

Joint Submission to UN Data Revolution Group

Rufus Pollock - October 16, 2014 in Featured, News, Open Data, Open Government Data, Policy

The following is the joint Submission to the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution from the World Wide Web Foundation, Open Knowledge, Fundar and the Open Institute, October 15, 2014. It derives from and builds on the Global Open Data Initiative’s Declaration on Open Data.

To the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution

Societies cannot develop in a fair, just and sustainable manner unless citizens are able to hold governments and other powerful actors to account, and participate in the decisions fundamentally affecting their well-being. Accountability and participation, in turn, are meaningless unless citizens know what their government is doing, and can freely access government data and information, share that information with other citizens, and act on it when necessary.

A true “revolution” through data will be one that enables all of us to hold our governments accountable for fulfilling their obligations, and to play an informed and active role in decisions fundamentally affecting their well-being.

We believe such a revolution requires ambitious commitments to make data open; invest in the ability of all stakeholders to use data effectively; and to commit to protecting the rights to information, free expression, free association and privacy, without which data-driven accountability will wither on the vine.

In addition, opening up government data creates new opportunities for SMEs and entrepreneurs, drives improved efficiency and service delivery innovation within government, and advances scientific progress. The initial costs (including any lost revenue from licenses and access charges) will be repaid many times over by the growth of knowledge and innovative data-driven businesses and services that create jobs, deliver social value and boost GDP.

The Sustainable Development Goals should include measurable, time-bound steps to:

1. Make data open by default

Government data should be open by default, and this principle should ultimately be entrenched in law. Open means that data should be freely available for use, reuse and redistribution by anyone for any purpose and should be provided in a machine-readable form (specifically it should be open data as defined by the Open Definition and in line with the 10 Open Data Principles).

  • Government information management (including procurement requirements and research funding, IT management, and the design of new laws, policies and procedures) should be reformed as necessary to ensure that such systems have built-in features ensuring that open data can be released without additional effort.
  • Non-compliance, or poor data quality, should not be used as an excuse for non-publication of existing data.
  • Governments should adopt flexible intellectual property and copyright policies that encourage unrestricted public reuse and analysis of government data.

2. Put accountability at the core of the data revolution

A data revolution requires more than selective release of the datasets that are easiest or most comfortable for governments to open. It should empower citizens to hold government accountable for the performance of its core functions and obligations. However, research by the Web Foundation and Open Knowledge shows that critical accountability data such as company registers, land record, and government contracts are least likely to be freely available to the public.

At a minimum, governments endorsing the SDGs should commit to the open release by 2018 of all datasets that are fundamental to citizen-state accountability. This should include:

  • data on public revenues, budgets and expenditure;
  • who owns and benefits from companies, charities and trusts;
  • who exercises what rights over key natural resources (land records, mineral licenses, forest concessions etc) and on what terms;
  • public procurement records and government contracts;
  • office holders, elected and un-elected and their declared financial interests and details of campaign contributions;
  • public services, especially health and education: who is in charge, responsible, how they are funded, and data that can be used to assess their performance;
  • constitution, laws, and records of debates by elected representatives;
  • crime data, especially those related to human rights violations such as forced disappearance and human trafficking;
  • census data;
  • the national map and other essential geodata.

    • Governments should create comprehensive indices of existing government data sets, whether published or not, as a foundation for new transparency policies, to empower public scrutiny of information management, and to enable policymakers to identify gaps in existing data creation and collection.

 3. Provide no-cost access to government data

One of the greatest barriers to access to ostensibly publicly-available information is the cost imposed on the public for access–even when the cost is minimal. Most government information is collected for governmental purposes, and the existence of user fees has little to no effect on whether the government gathers the data in the first place.

  • Governments should remove fees for access, which skew the pool of who is willing (or able) to access information and preclude transformative uses of the data that in turn generates business growth and tax revenues.

  • Governments should also minimise the indirect cost of using and re-using data by adopting commonly owned, non-proprietary (or “open”) formats that allow potential users to access the data without the need to pay for a proprietary software license.

  • Such open formats and standards should be commonly adopted across departments and agencies to harmonise the way information is published, reducing the transaction costs of accessing, using and combining data.

4. Put the users first

Experience shows that open data flounders without a strong user community, and the best way to build such a community is by involving users from the very start in designing and developing open data systems.

  • Within government: The different branches of government (including the legislature and judiciary, as well as different agencies and line ministries within the executive) stand to gain important benefits from sharing and combining their data. Successful open data initiatives create buy-in and cultural change within government by establishing cross-departmental working groups or other structures that allow officials the space they need to create reliable, permanent, ambitious open data policies.

  • Beyond government: Civil society groups and businesses should be considered equal stakeholders alongside internal government actors. Agencies leading on open data should involve and consult these stakeholders – including technologists, journalists, NGOs, legislators, other governments, academics and researchers, private industry, and independent members of the public – at every stage in the process.

  • Stakeholders both inside and outside government should be fully involved in identifying priority datasets and designing related initiatives that can help to address key social or economic problems, foster entrepreneurship and create jobs. Government should support and facilitate the critical role of both private sector and public service intermediaries in making data useful.

5. Invest in capacity

Governments should start with initiatives and requirements that are appropriate to their own current capacity to create and release credible data, and that complement the current capacity of key stakeholders to analyze and reuse it. At the same time, in order to unlock the full social, political and economic benefits of open data, all stakeholders should invest in rapidly broadening and deepening capacity.

  • Governments and their development partners need to invest in making data simple to navigate and understand, available in all national languages, and accessible through appropriate channels such as mobile phone platforms where appropriate.

  • Governments and their development partners should support training for officials, SMEs and CSOs to tackle lack of data and web skills, and should make complementary investments in improving the quality and timeliness of government statistics.

6. Improve the quality of official data

Poor quality, coverage and timeliness of government information – including administrative and sectoral data, geospatial data, and survey data – is a major barrier to unlocking the full value of open data.

  • Governments should develop plans to implement the Paris21 2011 Busan Action Plan, which calls for increased resources for statistical and information systems, tackling important gaps and weaknesses (including the lack of gender disaggregation in key datasets), and fully integrating statistics into decision-making.

  • Governments should bring their statistical efforts into line with international data standards and schemas, to facilitate reuse and analysis across various jurisdictions.

  • Private firms and NGOs that collect data which could be used alongside government statistics to solve public problems in areas such as disease control, disaster relief, urban planning, etc. should enter into partnerships to make this data available to government agencies and the public without charge, in fully anonymized form and subject to robust privacy protections.

7. Foster more accountable, transparent and participatory governance

A data revolution cannot succeed in an environment of secrecy, fear and repression of dissent.

  • The SDGs should include robust commitments to uphold fundamental rights to freedom of expression, information and association; foster independent and diverse media; and implement robust safeguards for personal privacy, as outlined in the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

  • In addition, in line with their commitments in the UN Millennium Declaration (2000) and the Declaration of the Open Government Partnership (2011), the SDGs should include concrete steps to tackle gaps in participation, inclusion, integrity and transparency in governance, creating momentum and legitimacy for reform through public dialogue and consensus.


Colophon

This submission derives and follows on from the Global Open Data Inititiave’s Global Open Data Declaration which was jointly created by Fundar, Open Institute, Open Knowledge and World Wide Web Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation with input from civil society organizations around the world.

The full text of the Declaration can be found here:

http://globalopendatainitiative.org/declaration/

Open Definition v2.0 Released – Major Update of Essential Standard for Open Data and Open Content

Rufus Pollock - October 7, 2014 in Featured, News, Open Content, Open Data, Open Definition

Today Open Knowledge and the Open Definition Advisory Council are pleased to announce the release of version 2.0 of the Open Definition. The Definition “sets out principles that define openness in relation to data and content” and plays a key role in supporting the growing open data ecosystem.

Recent years have seen an explosion in the release of open data by dozens of governments including the G8. Recent estimates by McKinsey put the potential benefits of open data at over $1 trillion and others estimates put benefits at more than 1% of global GDP.

However, these benefits are at significant risk both from quality problems such as “open-washing” (non-open data being passed off as open) and from fragmentation of the open data ecosystem due to incompatibility between the growing number of “open” licenses.

The Open Definition eliminates these risks and ensures we realize the full benefits of open by guaranteeing quality and preventing incompatibility.See this recent post for more about why the Open Definition is so important.

The Open Definition was published in 2005 by Open Knowledge and is maintained today by an expert Advisory Council. This new version of the Open Definition is the most significant revision in the Definition’s nearly ten-year history.

It reflects more than a year of discussion and consultation with the community including input from experts involved in open data, open access, open culture, open education, open government, and open source. Whilst there are no changes to the core principles, the Definition has been completely reworked with a new structure and new text as well as a new process for reviewing licenses (which has been trialled with governments including the UK).

Herb Lainchbury, Chair of the Open Definition Advisory Council, said:

“The Open Definition describes the principles that define “openness” in relation to data and content, and is used to assess whether a particular licence meets that standard. A key goal of this new version is to make it easier to assess whether the growing number of open licenses actually make the grade. The more we can increase everyone’s confidence in their use of open works, the more they will be able to focus on creating value with open works.”

Rufus Pollock, President and Founder of Open Knowledge said:

“Since we created the Open Definition in 2005 it has played a key role in the growing open data and open content communities. It acts as the “gold standard” for open data and content guaranteeing quality and preventing incompatibility. As a standard, the Open Definition plays a key role in underpinning the “open knowledge economy” with a potential value that runs into the hundreds of billions – or even trillions – worldwide.”

What’s New

In process for more than a year, the new version was collaboratively and openly developed with input from experts involved in open access, open culture, open data, open education, open government, open source and wiki communities. The new version of the definition:

  • Has a complete rewrite of the core principles – preserving their meaning but using simpler language and clarifying key aspects.
  • Introduces a clear separation of the definition of an open license from an open work (with the latter depending on the former). This not only simplifies the conceptual structure but provides a proper definition of open license and makes it easier to “self-assess” licenses for conformance with the Open Definition.
  • The definition of an Open Work within the Open Definition is now a set of three key principles:
    • Open License: The work must be available under an open license (as defined in the following section but this includes freedom to use, build on, modify and share).
    • Access: The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable one-time reproduction cost, preferably downloadable via the Internet without charge
    • Open Format: The work must be provided in a convenient and modifiable form such that there are no unnecessary technological obstacles to the performance of the licensed rights. Specifically, data should be machine-readable, available in bulk, and provided in an open format or, at the very least, can be processed with at least one free/libre/open-source software tool.
  • Includes improved license approval process to make it easier for license creators to check conformance of their license with the Open Definition and to encourage reuse of existing open licenses

More Information

  • For more information about the Open Definition including the updated version visit: http://opendefinition.org/
  • For background on why the Open Definition matters, read the recent article ‘Why the Open Definition Matters’

Authors

This post was written by Herb Lainchbury, Chair of the Open Definition Advisory Council and Rufus Pollock, President and Founder of Open Knowledge

Why the Open Definition Matters for Open Data: Quality, Compatibility and Simplicity

Rufus Pollock - September 30, 2014 in Featured, Open Data, Open Definition, Policy

The Open Definition performs an essential function as a “standard”, ensuring that when you say “open data” and I say “open data” we both mean the same thing. This standardization, in turn, ensures the quality, compatibility and simplicity essential to realizing one of the main practical benefits of “openness”: the greatly increased ability to combine different datasets together to drive innovation, insight and change.

Recent years have seen an explosion in the release of open data by dozens of governments including the G8. Recent estimates by McKinsey put the potential benefits of open data at over $100bn and others estimate benefits at more than 1% of global GDP.

However, these benefits are at significant risk both from quality-dilution and “open-washing”” (non-open data being passed off as open) as well as from fragmentation of the ecosystem as the proliferation of open licenses each with their own slightly different terms and conditions leads to incompatibility.

The Open Definition helps eliminates these risks and ensure we realize the full benefits of open. It acts as the “gold standard” for open content and data guaranteeing quality and preventing incompatibility.

This post explores in more detail why it’s important to have the Open Definition and the clear standard it provides for what “open” means in open data and open content.

Three Reasons

There are three main reasons why the Open Definition matters for open data:

Quality: open data should mean the freedom for anyone to access, modify and share that data. However, without a well-defined standard detailing what that means we could quickly see “open” being diluted as lots of people claim their data is “open” without actually providing the essential freedoms (for example, claiming data is open but actually requiring payment for commercial use). In this sense the Open Definition is about “quality control”.

Compatibility: without an agreed definition it becomes impossible to know if your “open” is the same as my “open”. This means we cannot know whether it’s OK to connect your open data and my open data together since the terms of use may, in fact, be incompatible (at the very least I’ll have to start consulting lawyers just to find out!). The Open Definition helps guarantee compatibility and thus the free ability to mix and combine different open datasets which is one of the key benefits that open data offers.

Simplicity: a big promise of open data is simplicity and ease of use. This is not just in the sense of not having to pay for the data itself, its about not having to hire a lawyer to read the license or contract, not having to think about what you can and can’t do and what it means for, say, your business or for your research. A clear, agreed definition ensures that you do not have to worry about complex limitations on how you can use and share open data.

Let’s flesh these out in a bit more detail:

Quality Control (avoiding “open-washing” and “dilution” of open)

A key promise of open data is that it can freely accessed and used. Without a clear definition of what exactly that means (e.g. used by whom, for what purpose) there is a risk of dilution especially as open data is attractive for data users. For example, you could quickly find people putting out what they call “open data” but only non-commercial organizations can access the data freely.

Thus, without good quality control we risk devaluing open data as a term and concept, as well as excluding key participants and fracturing the community (as we end up with competing and incompatible sets of “open” data).

Compatibility

A single piece of data on its own is rarely useful. Instead data becomes useful when connected or intermixed with other data. If I want to know about the risk of my home getting flooded I need to have geographic data about where my house is located relative to the river and I need to know how often the river floods (and how much).

That’s why “open data”, as defined by the Open Definition, isn’t just about the freedom to access a piece of data, but also about the freedom connect or intermix that dataset with others.

Unfortunately, we cannot take compatibility for granted. Without a standard like the Open Definition it becomes impossible to know if your “open” is the same as my “open”. This means, in turn, that we cannot know whether it’s OK to connect (or mix) your open data and my open data together (without consulting lawyers!) – and it may turn out that we can’t because your open data license is incompatible with my open data license.

Think of power sockets around the world. Imagine if every electrical device had a different plug and needed a different power socket. When I came over to your house I’d need to bring an adapter! Thanks to standardization at least in a given country power-sockets are almost always the same – so I bring my laptop over to your house without a problem. However, when you travel abroad you may have to take adapter with you. What drives this is standardization (or its lack): within your own country everyone has standardized on the same socket type but different countries may not share a standard and hence you need to get an adapter (or run out of power!).

For open data, the risk of incompatibility is growing as more open data is released and more and more open data publishers such as governments write their own “open data licenses” (with the potential for these different licenses to be mutually incompatible).

The Open Definition helps prevent incompatibility by:

Join the Global Open Data Index 2014 Sprint

Mor Rubinstein - September 29, 2014 in Community, Featured, Open Data

In 2012 the Open Knowledge launched the Global Open Data Index to help track the state of open data around the world. We’re now in the process of collecting submissions for the 2014 Open Data Index and we want your help!

Global Open Data Census: Survey

How can you contribute?

The main thing you can do is become a Contributor and add information about the state of open data in your country to the Open Data Index Survey. More details and quickstart guide to contributing here »

We also have other ways you can help:

Become a Mentor: Mentors support the Index in a variety of ways from engaging new contributors, mentoring them and generally promoting the Index in their community. Activities can include running short virtual “office hours” to support and advise other contributors, promoting the Index with civil society organizations – blogging, tweeting etc. To apply to be a Mentor, please fill in this form.

Become a Reviewer: Reviewers are specially selected experts who review submissions and check them to ensure information is accurate and up-to-date and that the Index is generally of high-quality. To apply to be a Reviewer, fill in this form.

Mailing Lists and Twitter

The Open Data Index mailing list is the main communication channel for folks who have questions or want to get in touch: https://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-data-census

For twitter, keep an eye on updates via #openindex14

Key dates for your calendar

We will kick off on September 30th, in Mexico City with a virtual and in-situ event at Abre LATAM and ConDatos (including LATAM regional skillshare meeting!). Keep an eye on Twitter to find out more details at #openindex14. Sprints will be taking place throughout October, with a global sprint taking place on 30 October!

More on this to follow shortly, keep an eye on this space.

Why the Open Data Index?

The last few years has seen an explosion of activity around open data and especially open government data. Following initiatives like data.gov and data.gov.uk, numerous local, regional and national bodies have started open government data initiatives and created open data portals (from a handful three years ago there are now nearly 400 open data portals worldwide).

But simply putting a few spreadsheets online under an open license is obviously not enough. Doing open government data well depends on releasing key datasets in the right way.

Moreover, with the proliferation of sites it has become increasingly hard to track what is happening: which countries, or municipalities, are actually releasing open data and which aren’t? Which countries are releasing data that matters? Which countries are releasing data in the right way and in a timely way?

The Global Open Data Index was created to answer these sorts of questions, providing an up-to-date and reliable guide to the state of global open data for policy-makers, researchers, journalists, activists and citizens.

The first initiative of its kind, the Global Open Data Index is regularly updated and provides the most comprehensive snapshot available of the global state of open data. The Index is underpinned by a detailed annual survey of the state of open data run by Open Knowledge in collaboration with open data experts and communities around the world.

Global Open Data Index: survey

A Data Revolution that Works for All of Us

Rufus Pollock - September 24, 2014 in Featured, Open Data, Open Development, Open Government Data, Our Work, Policy

Many of today’s global challenges are not new. Economic inequality, the unfettered power of corporations and markets, the need to cooperate to address global problems and the unsatisfactory levels of accountability in democratic governance – these were as much problems a century ago as they remain today.

What has changed, however – and most markedly – is the role that new forms of information and information technology could potentially play in responding to these challenges.

What’s going on?

The incredible advances in digital technology mean we have an unprecedented ability to create, share and access information. Furthermore, these technologies are increasingly not just the preserve of the rich, but are available to everyone – including the world’s poorest. As a result, we are living in a (veritable) data revolution – never before has so much data – public and personal – been collected, analysed and shared.

However, the benefits of this revolution are far from being shared equally.

On the one hand, some governments and corporations are already using this data to greatly increase their ability to understand – and shape – the world around them. Others, however, including much of civil society, lack the necessary access and capabilities to truly take advantage of this opportunity. Faced with this information inequality, what can we do?

How can we enable people to hold governments and corporations to account for the decisions they make, the money they spend and the contracts they sign? How can we unleash the potential for this information to be used for good – from accelerating research to tackling climate change? And, finally, how can we make sure that personal data collected by governments and corporations is used to empower rather than exploit us?

So how should we respond?

Fundamentally, we need to make sure that the data revolution works for all of us. We believe that key to achieving this is to put “open” at the heart of the digital age. We need an open data revolution.

We must ensure that essential public-interest data is open, freely available to everyone. Conversely, we must ensure that data about me – whether collected by governments, corporations or others – is controlled by and accessible to me. And finally, we have to empower individuals and communities – especially the most disadvantaged – with the capabilities to turn data into the knowledge and insight that can drive the change they seek.

In this rapidly changing information age – where the rules of the game are still up for grabs – we must be active, seizing the opportunities we have, if we are to ensure that the knowledge society we create is an open knowledge society, benefiting the many not the few, built on principles of collaboration not control, sharing not monopoly, and empowerment not exploitation.

Join our first Regional Community Mentoring and Skill-share Gathering

Christian Villum - September 23, 2014 in Community, Featured, Meetups

Open Knowledge community gathering

We are glad to announce our first official Community Mentoring and Skillshare Gathering to be held in Mexico City on October 3, 2014 in connection with the ConDatos and AbraLatam conferences. The event will kick off a series of similar regional events on other continents later this year and into next and will serve to enhance our virtual skill sharing and mentoring activities.

The Community Mentoring and Skillshare Gathering is a 1-day event scheduled to take place right after the ConDatos and AbreLatam conferences in Mexico next week. Open Knowledge community members from Latin America will join other grassroots open activists from across the region to build relationships, share skills, and find mentors.

The event is a pilot that will explore new ways of supporting the global (and often virtual) open knowledge community by organising face-to-face skill sharing and mentoring activities around relevant regional open events. The intention is to use these gatherings to jumpstart a community lead mentorship programme, an idea that we have been discussing with community members for a few months (see here for more details). The mentorship programme is intended to be largely self-sustainable, community/peer-to-peer driven and of benefit to both newcomers and more experienced community members. The program should run on volunteer basis, to ensure broad commitment and inclusivity. We are honoured to be able to experiment with this idea in collaboration with our community in and around Latin America following AbreLatam/ConDatos this month in Mexico, and hope to learn a lot about the needs and desires of community members seeking mentorship – as well as how we can make the most of in person gatherings to strengthen both our skills and community.

Powered by the Partnership for Open Data

The series of events are organized in close collaboration with the Partnership for Open Data and in partnership with SocialTIC. One goal of the Partnership for Open Data is to support the development of strong open knowledge communities around the world, and the aim of the community summit will be to run a number of peer to peer skillshares designed to strengthen the open community’s ability to continue to grow and diversify.

A day full of activities

Activities at the event will include a mentoring brainstorming session, where we will discuss how and why mentoring is needed in the network, actual skill sharing sessions as well as some time dedicated to discussing how we continue to support and teach each other online after we return to our respective cities and countries.

In this same spirit of peer-to-peer support, the Partnership for Open Data and Open Knowledge will host a skillshare corner at the ConDatos. One of the activities that we will be running is a Open Data Census community sprint in which we will try to expand the community of contributors to the open data census.

Community building of the programme and upcoming community calls

In order to ensure that we make the most of the time we have all together and put together a programme that suits the needs of the Latin American open community, we would like to invite you to participate in one of the following community calls to discuss the ideas mentioned above:

  • Tuesday, 23th of September, 6 pm CET/12 pm EDT (HANGOUT LINK)
  • Thursday, 25th of September, 9 pm CET/3 pm EDT (HANGOUT LINK)

If you are unable to attend one of the above calls but would like to suggest ideas, we would love to hear from you via this idea submission form or on email local (at) okfn (dot) org.

How to join

If you are in Mexico next week and would like to participate, please register for the event to let us know you will be coming.

As this event is being organised with and for the Latin American open data community, the event will be facilitated in Spanish.

Lastly, we would like to extend a warm thank you to our friends at SocialTIC for helping to make this happen! We are looking forward to seeing you all next week in Mexico!

Announcing a Leadership Update at Open Knowledge

Rufus Pollock - September 18, 2014 in Featured, News, Open Knowledge Foundation

Today I would like to share some important organisational news. After 3 years with Open Knowledge, Laura James, our CEO, has decided to move on to new challenges. As a result of this change we will be seeking to recruit a new senior executive to lead Open Knowledge as it continues to evolve and grow.

As many of you know, Laura James joined us to support the organisation as we scaled up, and stepped up to the CEO role in 2013. It has always been her intention to return to her roots in engineering at an appropriate juncture, and we have been fortunate to have had Laura with us for so long – she will be sorely missed.

Laura has made an immense contribution and we have been privileged to have her on board – I’d like to extend my deep personal thanks to her for all she has done. Laura has played a central role in our evolution as we’ve grown from a team of half-a-dozen to more than forty. Thanks to her commitment and skill we’ve navigated many of the tough challenges that accompany “growing-up” as an organisation.

There will be no change in my role (as President and founder) and I will be here both to continue to help lead the organisation and to work closely with the new appointment going forward. Laura will remain in post, continuing to manage and lead the organisation, assisting with the recruitment and bringing the new senior executive on board.

For a decade, Open Knowledge has been a leader in its field, working at the forefront of efforts to open up information around the world and and see it used to empower citizens and organisations to drive change. Both the community and original non-profit have grown – and continue to grow – very rapidly, and the space in which we work continues to develop at an incredible pace with many exciting new opportunities and activities.

We have a fantastic future ahead of us and I’m very excited as we prepare Open Knowledge to make its next decade even more successful than its first.

We will keep everyone informed in the coming weeks as our plans develop, and there will also be opportunities for the Open Knowledge community to discuss. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions.

OKFestival 2014: we made it! A write-up & Thank You note

Beatrice Martini - September 5, 2014 in Community, Events, Featured, OKFest, OKFestival

Open Knowledge Festival 2014! We built it, made it and ran it – it was a blast, thank you!

  • 1056 participants from 60 countries
  • 215 facilitators and moderators
  • 17 Programme Team members
  • 70 volunteers

made it all happen. Who says that numbers are dry? Just by writing them down, our hearts are melting.

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Group work! – Pic by Gregor Fischer

Six weeks have passed since the end of OKFestival 2014, many of you participated in our feedback survey, we all caught up with the lack of sleep and are now hard at work with the public post-event report which will be shared on the festival website in the next few weeks (keep your eyes peeled!).

At the festival, we tried a lot of experiments, and experimenting is both risky and thrilling – and you were up for the challenge! So we thought it was time to take a moment to have a look at what we built together and celebrate the challenges we bravely took on and the outcomes that came out of them (and, yes, there are also learnings from things which could have gone better – is there any event with bullet-proof WiFi? can a country not known to be tropical and not used to air conditioning experience a heat wave on the 2 days out of 365 when you’ll run an event?)

2 Rocking selfies! – Pic by Burt Lum

Summing it up:

  • an event for the whole open movement: we were keen to be the convenor of a global gathering, welcoming participants from all around the world and a multitude of folks from open communities, organisations, small and big NGOs, governments, grassroots initiatives as well as people new to the topic and willing to dive in. We wanted to create an environment connecting diverse audiences, thus enabling a diverse groups of thinkers, makers and activists to come together and collaborate to effect change.

3 Ory Okolloh & Rufus Pollock fireside chat – Pic by Gregor Fischer

  • hands-on and outcome-driven approach: we wanted the event to be an opportunity to get together, make, share and learn with – and from – each other and get ready to make plans for what comes next. We didn’t want the event to be simply wonderful, we also wanted it to be useful – for you, your work and the future of the open movement. We’ve just started sharing a selection of your stories on our blog and more is yet to come this month, with the launch of our public post-OKFestival report, filled out with outcome stories you told us in the weeks after the event – who you met, what did you start to plan, what’s the new project coming out of the festival you’re already working on as we speak!

4 Meeting, talking, connecting! – Pic by Gregor Fischer

  • narrative streams: We made a bold choice – no streams-by-topic, but streams following a narrative. The event was fuelled by the theory that change happens when you bring together knowledge – which informs change – tools – which enable change – and society – which effects change. The Knowledge, Tools and Society streams aimed to explore the work we do and want to develop further beyond the usual silos which streams-by-topic could have created. Open hardware and open science, open government and open sustainability, open culture and open source, arts and privacy and surveillance.

5 Your vote, your voice! – Pic by Gregor Fischer

  • crowd sourced programme and participatory formats and tools (and powerpoints discouraged): We encouraged you to leave the comfort zone with no written presentations to read in sync with slides, but instead to create action-packed sessions in which all participants were contributing with their knowledge to work to be done together. We shared tips and tricks about creation and facilitation of such formats and hosted hangouts to help you propose your ideas for our open call – and hundreds of community members sent their proposals! Also, in the most participatory of the spirits, OKFestival also had its own unconference, the unFestival run by the great DATA Uruguay Team, who complemented our busy core programme with a great space where anyone could pitch and run her/his own emerging session on the spot, to give room and time to great new born ideas and plans. And a shout out also goes to a couple of special tools: our etherpads – according to the OKFestival Pad of Pads 85 pads have been co-written and worked with – and our first code of collaboration which we hope will accompany us also in future ventures!

6 Green volunteering power – always on! – Pic by Gregor Fischer

  • diversity of backgrounds, experiences, cultures, domains: months before we started producing the festival, we started to get in touch with people from all around the world who were running projects we admired, and with whom we’d never worked together before. This guided us in building a diverse Programme Team first, and receiving proposals and financial aid applications from many new folks and countries later on. This surely contributed to the most exciting outcome of all – having a really international crowd of the event, people from 60 countries, speaking dozens of different languages. Different backgrounds enriched everybody’s learning and networking and nurtured new collaborations and relationships.

Wow, that was a journey. And it’s just the beginning! As we said, OKFestival aimed to be the fuel, the kick-off, the inspiration for terrific actions and initiatives to come and now it’s time to hear some of most promising stories and project started there!

You can start having taste following the ever-growing OKFestival Stories article series on our blog and be ready for more, when in the next weeks we’ll publish more outcomes, interviews, quotes and reports from you, the protagonists of it all.

Thank you again, and see you very soon!

Your OKFestival Team

Revisiting OKFestival 2014

susannekendler - August 19, 2014 in Events, Featured

Hard to believe that a full month has passed since the end of a fantastic OKFestival 2014. While our team is hard at work following up on all the great ideas and impulses from the event, and evaluating what we can learn, we would like to highlight some of the magnificent write-ups and other documentation that has been made in pretty much all of the community around the world.

Over 1000 people from 60 countries came together to enjoy a slice of summer in Berlin. But they also were there to discuss, share, think, create new ideas and to collaborate with a focus to open minds to open action.

We are especially grateful for our fab team of community volunteers who created these storify-collections to mark each day of the event

Here are some reminders for OKFestival 2014 in pictures

Here are some more of our favorite things

A big thank you to all who shared thoughts about OKFestival 2014 on social media, who wrote blog posts and articles about the event, and who helped us spread the word about what we learnt. Here are just some of the reflections we collected:
#OKFest14 – Outcomes, Impressions & Thoughts

And finally, here’s our fantastic short video, which summarizes impressions from OKFestival 2014 perfectly

Let us know if you are taking any new partnerships and ideas formed at OKFestival 2014 forward, we’d love to hear about any follow-up projects!

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