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Announcing the new open data handbook

Open Knowledge - May 13, 2015 in Community, Open Data Handbook, open knowledge

We are thrilled to announce that the Open Data Handbook, the premier guide for open data newcomers and veterans alike, has received a much needed update! The Open Data Handbook, originally published in 2012, has become the go to resource for the open data community. It was written by expert members of the open data community and has been translated into over 18 languages. Read it now »


The Open Data Handbook elaborates on the what, why & how of open data. In other words – what data should be open, what are the social and economic benefits of opening that data, and how to make effective use of it once it is opened.

The handbook is targeted at a broad audience, including civil servants, journalists, activists, developers, and researchers as well as open data publishers. Our aim is to ensure open data is widely available and applied in as many contexts as possible, we welcome your efforts to grow the open knowledge movement in this way!

The idea of open data is really catching on and we have learned many important lessons over the past three years. We believe that is time that the Open Data Handbook reflect these learnings. The revised Open Data Handbook has a number of new features and plenty of ways to contribute your experience and knowledge, please do!

 Inspire Open Data Newcomers

The original open data guide discussed the theoretical reasons for opening up data – increasing transparency and accountability of government, improving public and commercial services, stimulating innovation etc. We have now reached a point where we are able to go beyond theoretical arguments — we have real stories that document the benefits open data has on our lives. The Open Data Value Stories are use cases from across the open knowledge network that highlighting the social and economic value and the varied applications of open data in the world.

This is by no means an exhaustive list; in fact just the beginning! If you have an open data value story that you would like to contribute, please get in touch.

 Learn How to Publish & Use Open Data

The Open Data Guide remains the premier open data how-to resource and in the coming months we will be adding new sections and features! For the time being, we have moved the guide to Github to streamline contributions and facilitate translation. We will be reaching out to the community shortly to determine what new content we should be prioritising.

While in 2012, when we originally published the open data guide, the open data community was still emerging and resources remained scarce, today as the global open data community is mature, international and diverse and resources now exist that reflect this maturity and diversity. The Open Data Resource Library is curated collection of resources, including articles, longer publications, how to guides, presentations and videos, produced by the global open data community — now available all in one place! If you want to contribute a resource, you can do so here! We are particularly interested in expanding the number of resources we have in languages other than English so please add them if you have them!

Finally, as we are probably all aware, the open data community likes its jargon! While the original open data guide had a glossary of terms, it was far from exhaustive — especially for newcomers to the open data movement. In the updated version we have added over 80 new terms and concepts with easy to understand definitions! Have we missed something out? Let us know what we are missing here.

The updated Open Data Handbook is a living resource! In the coming months, we will be adding new sections to the Open Data Guide and producing countless more value stories! We invite you to contribute your stories, your resources and your ideas! Thank you for your contributions past, present and future and your continued efforts in pushing this movement forward.

Open Data Handbook 2015 comeback – and you want to be a part of it!

Mor Rubinstein - January 12, 2015 in Open Data Handbook

There is famous saying that says that outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. We at Open Knowledge tend to agree. This is why we decided to take one of Open Knowledge key resources, the Open Data Handbook, and give it a bit of a face lift in this upcoming year.

The open data handbook has been an important resource for the open knowledge community for years. The handbook introduces and discusses legal, social and technical aspects of open data. It has been used by a wide range of stakeholders from open data beginners to data wizards, from government officials to journalists and civil society activists. It examines the following questions which are relevant to all: what is “open”, why to open up data, and the how to ‘open’ data?

Have any comments or suggestions or want to help out with the handbook? Please email us at handbook [at] okfn [dot] org

Since it was first written, the handbook is read by thousands of users each month and has been translated into 18 languages (making the most widely translated Open Data resource out there) . However, open data is both a fast moving and a relatively field. As such, it is not surprising that open data initiatives have been launched and open data policies approved, we, as a community, have learned a lot about the opportunities and the pitfalls of open data. The last version of the book is from 2011 and at the time, government open data portals were few and far between and the open government partnership had only just launched. The book represents what we new/thought then but as the open data movement expanded both in terms of numbers and in geographical spread, we have decided that it is high time that we incorporate our learnings into a new version. This version of the Open Data handbook will focus mainly on one main type of open data: open government data, but a number of the sections can be applied to other types of open data. This project is supported by Partnership for Open Data – a collaboration between Open Knowledge, Open Data Institute and the World Bank.

Interactive handbooks!

So much of this knowledge, these stories and the brilliant ideas about what works and what doesn’t work is in this community. Therefore, we believe that the process of creating the updated version of handbook should be, as its always been, a community project. This process can not only strengthen the community through a joint project, but also to help us to learn from peers, listen to members who usually do not participate in daily channels and to create a handbook, rich in content, experience and a wide spectrum of knowledge.

There are a number of ways you can get involved! You can submit your stories or comment on the “alpha” version we are planning to launch in February. The handbook will be part of a larger community owned resource platform and we have

How can you help?

  • Contribute a short open data story – We are looking to different stories about open government data stories in various fields. It can be a success story or even a failure that you think we should all learn about. If you want to contribute a story please fill this form and we will get back in touch with you.

  • Revise the first draft of the book – The current chapters in the open data handbook are being review by Open Knowledge staff – we are updating and producing new . Our goal is to release an ‘alpha’ version of the book the week before open data day, so it can be revised, commented on and added to by the community.

  • Propose a resource – We are putting together a list of open data resources – If you know of other resources about open data, in any language, please give us a shout. At the end of each section, we will have a “further reading” section and we’d love to share as many resources as possible.

  • Send us a short video about open data – In the internet world, a handbook doesn’t have to be text only. Send us a video of you / your organization and answer the following questions:

    Tell us an example of open data having an social and/or economic impact in your city/country/region What is your main obstacle dealing with Open Data?
    How do you / your community engage with open data?
    What do you think is the next big thing for Open Data in 2015?

The videos will be embedded in the handbook and on our YouTube channel!

Who can write to the book? Everyone! While we are editing the book are editing the book, we want your input. Unfortunately, we can’t promise that every story / idea will ultimately be part of the book. If you think that we are missing something, please let us know! We will try to include as much as possible!

Have any comments or suggestions or want to help out? Please email us at handbook [at] okfn [dot] org

2015 is going to be great for open data, let’s write about it together.

Open Research Data Handbook Sprint – 15-16 February

Velichka Dimitrova - January 16, 2013 in Events, Featured, Open Data Handbook, Open Economics, Open Science, Open Standards, Sprint / Hackday, WG Development, WG Economics, WG Open Bibliographic Data, WG Open Data in Science

On February 15-16, the Open Research Data Handbook Sprint will happen at the Open Data Institute, 65 Clifton Street, London EC2A 4JE.

The Open Research Data Handbook aims to provide an introduction to the processes, tools and other areas that researchers need to consider to make their research data openly available.

Join us for a book sprint to develop the current draft, and explore ways to remix it for different disciplines and contexts.

Who it is for:

  • Researchers interested in carrying out their work in more open ways
  • Experts on sharing research and research data
  • Writers and copy editors
  • Web developers and designers to help present the handbook online
  • Anyone else interested in taking part in an intense and collaborative weekend of action

Register at Eventbrite

What will happen:

The main sprint will take place on Friday and Saturday. After initial discussions we’ll divide into open space groups to focus on research, writing and editing for different chapters of the handbook, developing a range of content including How To guidance, stories of impact, collections of links and decision tools.

A group will also look at digital tools for presenting the handbook online, including ways to easily tag content for different audiences and remix the guide for different contexts.


Week before & after:

  • Calling for online contributions and reviews


  • Seminar or bring your own lunch on open research data.
  • From 2pm: planning and initial work in the handbook in small teams (optional)


  • 10.00 – 10:30: Arrive and coffee
  • 10.30 – 11.30: Introducing open research – lightning talks
  • 11.30 – 13:30: Forming teams and starting sprint. Groups on:
    • Writing chapters
    • Decision tools
    • Building website & framework for book
    • Remixing guide for particular contexts
  • 13.30 – 14:30: Lunch
  • 14.30 – 16:30: Working in teams
  • 17.30 – 18:30: Report back
  • 18:30 – …… : Pub


OKF Open Science Working Group – creators of the current Open Research Data Handbook
OKF Open Economic Working Group – exploring economics aspects of open research
Open Data Research Network – exploring a remix of the handbook to support open social science
research in a new global research network, focussed on research in the Global South.
Open Data Institute – hosting the event

Announcing the Open Data Handbook version 1.0

Laura Newman - February 22, 2012 in Open Data Handbook, Open Government Data, Our Work, WG EU Open Data, WG Open Government Data

The Open Knowledge Foundation are proud to announce the launch of version 1.0 of the Open Data Handbook (formerly the Open Data Manual):

Read the Open Data Handbook now! »

Old books

The Handbook discusses the ‘why, what and how’ of open data – why to go open, what open is, how to make data open and how to do useful things with it.

Read on to find out more about what’s in the Handbook, who it’s for, and how you can get involved – for example by adding to and improving the Handbook, or by translating it into more languages.

What is the Open Data Handbook?

The Open Data Handbook is a valuable resource for everyone interested in open data. It covers many types of data, but its particular focus is open government data.

The Open Data Handbook is targeted towards a broad audience. It contains useful information for civil servants, journalists, activists, developers, researchers – basically, for anyone with an interest in open data!

From a basic introduction of the ‘what and why’ of open data, the Handbook goes on to discuss the practicalities of making data open – the ‘how’. It gives advice on everything from choosing a file format and applying a license, to motivating the community and telling the world. Clear explanations, illustrative examples and technical recommendations make the Handbook suitable for people with all levels of experience, from the absolute beginner to the seasoned open data professional.

The Handbook is divided into short chapters which cover individual aspects of open data. It can be read in a single sitting, or dipped into as a reference work.

Finally, the Handbook is intended to be an organic project. It has been dubbed v1.0 for a reason – we hope that there are many more versions to come! We welcome feedback and suggestions; more on this below.

Where did it come from?

The Open Data Handbook began life as the ‘Open Data Manual’. The initial text was written at a book sprint in Berlin in October 2010. The sprint was organized by members of the Open Government Data and Open Data in the EU working groups at the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Since then, a wide group of editors and contributors have added to and refined the original material, to create the Handbook you see today.

What next?

The vision is to create a series of open-source Handbooks and Guides, which offer advice on different aspects of open data. This project has already been started. So far, we have:

We hope to expand this list and to add further titles over time.

Work to translate the Open Data Handbook into many more languages has already begun, and special thanks are due to everyone who has already contributed. However, more translators are needed! You can watch the progress of the translations on Transifex. See below for details of how to contribute.

We are also aware of the need to tailor general advice about open government data to the legislative frameworks and requirements of different countries. If you would like to be involved in writing a country specific adaptation of the Open Data Handbook, please do get in touch via the mailing list.

Get involved!

The Open Data Handbook v1.0 represents the culmination of more than a year’s work – but the challenge isn’t over yet!

We need now need your input in order to:

  • Translate the text into more languages! We use Transifex to manage translations; see the instructions on our wiki for information about how to get started
  • Point out corrections and suggestions for improvement on our issue tracker or by emailing opendatahandbook[@]
  • Contribute to the next version of the Open Data Handbook – join the mailing list and share your ideas!
  • Donate! We are committed to keeping the Open Data Handbook entirely free, and all contributions to enable this are gratefully received. Please follow the button below:
 let’s collect some tricks for data wrangling!

Rufus Pollock - August 4, 2011 in Ideas and musings, OKF Projects, Open Data Handbook

[Friedrich Lindenberg], data wrangler and member of OKF Germany, advocates for the creation of Data Patterns book to complement the existing Open Data Manual.

How do you scrape a massive online archive? How do you fix a broken CSV file? How do you normalize entity names in a large collection of records?

There is a lot of practical skill in handling newly opened data, and the implicit promise of the open data movement is that we will help more people to access and re-use data. And while it would be desirable to be able to offer simple web-based tools for data wrangling, the truth is that what’s required is often a wild mix of web tools, desktop and command-line tools and programming skills.

So what we need is the other half of the Open Data Manual. will be a collaborative attempt to collect specific tips on how to code, wrangle and hack your way through messy data. The site will not be end-all of data literacy, but rather adopt a focussed point of view:

  • We try to provide methods that are immediately useful for coders, data journalists, researchers etc. If it doesn’t solve a data acquisition, cleanup or use problem, it can probably wait a bit.
  • Assume basic knowledge of python programming and web technologies. There are many ways to learn this, and we’d probably have a hard time trumping Zed Shaw.
  • Provide opinionated advice: it’s impossible to give a comprehensive overview of all tools, concerns or strategies relating to data and knowledge management. While its certainly interesting to discuss pros and cons of various technologies, its not always useful in practice. will pick sides, and follow them through.
  • Link out. There’s no reason not to provide contextualized links instead of explaining things ourselves whereever possible.

So how will we create this? Luckily, we have at least two sources of information about data wrangling: the excellent questions on and our own attempts at making sense of data, e.g. in the OpenSpending project. Using these two sources of both questions and answers will probably mean we’ll start off with a slightly odd set of issues, but as with all OKF projects the answer is: bring your own! Either post questions to or write a chapter and commit it to the datapatterns repository on github.

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