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Let’s imagine a creative format for Open Access

Guest - October 26, 2014 in OKF France, Open Access

This post is part of our Open Access Week blog series to highlight great work in Open Access communities around the world. It is written by Celya Gruson-Daniel from Open Knowledge France and reports from “Open Access Xsprint”, a creative workshop held on October 20 in the biohackerspace La Paillasse in Paris – as announced here.

More and more information is available online about Open Access. However it’s difficult to process all this content when one is a busy PhD Student or researcher. Moreover, people already informed and convinced are often the main spectators. The question thus becomes : How to spread the world about Open Access to a large audience ? (researchers, students but also people who are not directly concerned). With the HackYourPhD community, we have been developing initiatives to invent new creative formats and to raise curiosity and/or interest about Open Access. Open Access Week was a perfect occasion to propose workshops to experiment with those kinds of formats.

An Open Access XSprint at La Paillasse

During the Open Access Week, HackYourPhD with Sharelex design a creative workshop called the Open Access Xsprint (X standing for media). The evening was held on October 20 in the biohackerspace La Paillasse in Paris with the financial support of a Generation Open Grant (Right to Research Coalition)

The main objective was to produce appealing guidelines about the legal aspects and issues of Open Access through innovative formats such as livesketching, or comics. HackYourPhD has been working with Sharelex on this topic for several months. Sharelex aims at providing access to the law to everyone with the use of a collaborative workshop and forum. A first content has been produced in French and was used during the Open Access XSprint.

One evening to invent creative formats about Open Access

These sessions brings together illustrators, graphic designers, students, researchers. After a short introduction to get to know each other, the group discussed about the meaning of Open Access and its definition. First Livesketching and illustration emerged.

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In a second time, two groups were composed. One group worked on the different meaning of Open Access with a focus on the Creative Commons licences.

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The other group discussed about the development of the different Open Access models and their evolution (Green Open Access, 100% Gold Open Access, hybrid Journal, Diamond, Platinum). The importance of Evaluation was raised. It appears to be one of the brakes in the Open Access transition.

After an open buffet, each group presented their work. A future project was proposed. It will consist of personalizing a scientific article and inventing its different “”life””. An ingenious way to present the different Open Access Models.

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Explore also our storify “Open Access XSprint”

Next Step: Improvisation Theatre and Open Access

To conclude the Open Access Week, another event will be organized on October 24 in a science center (Espace Pierre Gilles de Gennes) with HackYourPhD and Sharelex, and the financial support of Couperin/FOSTER.

This event aims at exploring new format to communicate about Open Access. An improvisation theatral company will participate to this event. The presentations of different speakers about Open Access will be interspersed with short improvisation. The main topic of this evening will be the stereotypes or false ideas about Open Access. Bring an entertaining and original view is a way to discuss about Open Access for a large public, and maybe a starter to help them to become curious and to continue exploring this crucial topic for researchers and all citizen.

Licence Creative Commons Ce(tte) œuvre est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution – Partage dans les Mêmes Conditions 4.0 International.

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!

“Share, improve and reuse public sector data” – French Government unveils new CKAN-based data.gouv.fr

Guest - December 26, 2013 in CKAN, OKF France, Open Data, Open Government Data

This is a guest post from Rayna Stamboliyska and Pierre Chrzanowski of the Open Knowledge Foundation France

Etalab, the Prime Minister’s task force for Open Government Data, unveiled on December 18 the new version of the data.gouv.fr platform (1). OKF France salutes the work the Etalab team has accomplished, and welcomes the new features and the spirit of the new portal, rightly summed up in the website’s baseline, “share, improve and reuse public sector data”.

OKF France was represented by Samuel Goëta at the data.gouv.fr launch event OKF France was represented at the data.gouv.fr launch event by Samuel Goëta in the presence of Jean-Marc Ayrault, Prime Minister of France, Fleur Pellerin, Minister Delegate for Small and Medium Enterprises, Innovation, and the Digital Economy and Marylise Lebranchu, Minister of the Reform of the State. Photo credit: Yves Malenfer/Matignon

Etalab has indeed chosen to offer a platform resolutely turned towards collaboration between data producers and re-users. The website now enables everyone not only to improve and enhance the data published by the government, but also to share their own data; to our knowledge, a world first for a governmental open data portal. In addition to “certified” data (i.e., released by departments and public authorities), data.gouv.fr also hosts data published by local authorities, delegated public services and NGOs. Last but not least, the platform also identifies and highlights other, pre-existing, Open Data portals such as nosdonnees.fr (2). A range of content publishing features, a wiki and the possibility of associating reuses such as visualizations should also allow for a better understanding of the available data and facilitate outreach efforts to the general public.

We at OKF France also welcome the technological choices Etalab made. The new data.gouv.fr is built around CKAN, the open source software whose development is coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation. All features developed by the Etalab team will be available for other CKAN-based portals (e.g., data.gov or data.gov.uk). In turn, Etalab may more easily master innovations implemented by others.

The new version of the platform clearly highlights the quality rather than quantity of datasets. This paradigm shift was expected by re-users. On one hand, datasets with local coverage have been pooled thus providing nation-wide coverage. On the other hand, the rating system values datasets with the widest geographical and temporal coverage as well as the highest granularity.

Screenshot from data.gouv.fr home page

The platform will continue to evolve and we hope that other features will soon complete this new version, for example:

  • the ability to browse data by facets (data producers, geographical coverage or license, etc.);
  • a management system for “certified” (clearly labelled institutional producer) and “non-certified” (data modified, produced, added by citizens) versions of a dataset;
  • a tool for previewing data, as natively proposed by CKAN;
  • the ability to comment on the datasets;
  • a tool that would allow to enquire about a dataset directly at the respective public administration.

Given this new version of data.gouv.fr, it is now up to the producers and re-users of public sector data to demonstrate the potential of Open Data. This potential can only be fully met with the release of fundamental public sector data as a founding principle for our society. Thus, we are still awaiting for the opening of business registers, detailed expenditures as well as non-personal data on prescriptions issued by healthcare providers.

Lastly, through the new data.gouv.fr, administrations are no longer solely responsible for the common good that is public sector data. Now this responsibility is shared with all stakeholders. It is thus up to all of us to demonstrate that this is the right choice.


(1) This new version of data.gouv.fr is the result of codesign efforts that the Open Knowledge Foundation France participated in.

(2) Nosdonnees.fr is co-managed by Regards Citoyens and OKF France.

Read Etalab’s press release online here

Global Community Stories #4: Morocco, Bangladesh, Spain and South Korea

Christian Villum - July 4, 2013 in Community Stories, Featured, OKF Bangladesh, OKF France, OKF Morocco, OKF Nepal, OKF South Korea, OKF Spain, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

 

It’s once again time for a round-up of some of the major activities happening in our rapidly expanding Local Group Network across the world. This time we’ll among other be highlighting some of our newest groups and bring stories from Africa, Asia and Europe. Enjoy!

In Morocco, which is home to one of our newest Local Groups, the group coordinator Abderahman Zohry was invited on national television to discuss the Moroccan e-gov project with among other the Minister of Trade, Industry, and New Technologies, Abdelkader Amara. During the program they among other discussed open data, the CKAN data handling platform developed by Open Knowledge Foundation as well as the Moroccan Open Data Portal, and as a result the Local Group was subsequently invited to work with the government to help improve the platform.

Lots of media attention in Bangladesh…

In Bangladesh, where the OKF recently became established with an Ambassador, Nurunnaby Chowdhury Hasive, the launch received major attention across media. C News Voice, Comjagat and Priyo were among the many outlets covering the news.

Nationwide data journalism and open data conference in Spain…

The Spanish Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation has been organizing the first Conference of Data Journalism and Open Data in Spain, titled “When data tell stories”. The event took place simultaneously in Barcelona (CCCB + School of Communication Blaquerna) and Madrid (MediaLab Prado).

The event includes a Barcamp with data journalism projects that locals can learn from – as well as a Hackathon, which will take place in Madrid and Sevilla. There will be prizes for the best Data Journalism projects arising from this two-day challenge. Additionally there will be practical workshops taught by experts who will teach participants how to use major tools for working with data.

Huge interest in open data in South Korea…

From South Korea we are receiving reports of huge interest in open data and open government data these days. The new president Park Geun-hye recently confirmed that her government will open up data in various ways, including through open data portals, services, projects and more.

As a means to support these developments, the South Korean Local Group have been hard at work during the Spring showing examples and practices, as well as introducing several Open Knowledge Foundation projects. Highlights include massive activity during Open Data Day back in February, a 12-hour hackathon in April (as well as another one in June), localizing Open Spending in Korean and, perhaps most notably, the launch of South Korea Data Hub, which is an open data platform running on the open source CKAN data handling system developed by Open Knowledge Foundation. The site is operated by the South Korean OKF Local Group community, but is also getting connected to other government portals such as the open data portal for the city of Seoul. This portal will soon be upgraded to CKAN version 2.0.

Additionally, the OKF Local Group also developed Seoul Linked Data Service, on the city of Seoul’s exemplary open data portal. The group will be sharing all data, documentation, and source codes, etc. (and they even run a a mirror site). Stay tuned for updates.

And in shorter news…

The Panton Principles have now, among other languages, been translated into Indonesian and Nepali. In Japan, the Local Group recently joined the Global Spending Data Party (alongside OKF Local Group Nepal) and will be hosting one of the coming events. In France, the Local Group Chapter organized an event with Etalab called “France Open Data taskforce”, that encouraged participants to re-design the data.gouv.fr portal. Over 15 designers and 15 open data users participated to imagine and design their ideal open data portal. Results to be presented online soon.

Great to see so many inspiring activities taking place in open knowledge and open data all over the world. We’ll be back shortly with more stories from the Open Knowledge Foundation community.

Introducing the OKF French-speaking community!

pierre chrzanowski - June 3, 2013 in OKF Belgium, OKF France, OKF Switzerland, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

View the French version of this post here

It is estimated that around 900 million people are able to communicate in French in the world. All those people do not necessarily speak English, and a lot of them use French as their Lingua Franca. After a suggestion from the French local group, the Open Knowledge Foundation is pleased to introduce the new international community for French speakers, with the launch of a dedicated mailing list:

http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/okfn-francophone

This new linguistic community aims to help further the Open Knowledge Foundation mission, which is to open up knowledge around the world and see it used and useful.

Map of French-speaking countries

French speaking countries map | Credit : aaker, wikimedia, public domain

We hope this new communication channel will help to develop the Open Knowledge movement across French-speaking communities in Europe, Africa, America and the world over.

This list will can be used for, but is not restricted to, the discussion of things such as:

  • Open Data (legal and licensing issues, initiatives, Open Data Census, etc.);
  • Open Science and Open Access;
  • Open Government Partnership;
  • Translation work;
  • Projects and events;
  • Sharing of French-language resources.

We look forward to discussing your local or global activities with you, and sharing it with the French-speaking community.

Register with OKFN-Francophone

Global Community Stories #2: Brazil, Spain, Czech Republic, Nepal, Iceland and Belgium

Christian Villum - April 10, 2013 in Community Stories, Featured, OKF Belgium, OKF Brazil, OKF China, OKF Czech Republic, OKF France, OKF Greece, OKF Iceland, OKF Nepal, OKF Spain, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

 

We continue our new monthly digest showcasing initiatives from our local communities across the globe, this time proudly featuring Brazil, Spain, Czech Republic, Nepal, Iceland and Belgium.

The Open Knowledge Foundation’s many (30+!) Local Group communities stand behind a myriad of different activities every month. As you may also have read in our first edition of the Global Community Stories, this is our monthly wrap-up of some of the most interesting actions and initiatives happening around the world among our colleagues.

In Brazil, volunteers gather around food facts and Data Journalism Handbook translations…

In Brazil, the OKFN Brasil community has been engaging the the Open Government Partnership activities, reporting on civil society participation and urging the government for more open participation. The community has also begun to get involved in the Open Food Facts project, which attracted a bit of press attention. An initiative led by Ação Educativa has also started a working group to analyse open data around Brazilian education, with support from the local OKFN group. Ale Abdo, from OKFN Brasil advisory board, has published a guide on how to publish your thesis in LaTeX or ODT with an open license, and an effort to map the timings of lights at pedestrian crossings has begun. On the blog, Natália Mazote voiced interesting reflections on the participation of women in coding, and Thiago Rondon, also from the advisory board, discussed the importance of open hardware. Finally, an association of investigative journalists in Brazil, Abraji, has gathered volunteers to translate the Data Journalism Handbook to Portuguese!

In Spain, conferences and hackathons take shape…

In Spain the local OKFN Local Group are organizing the First Conference of Data Journalism and Open Data in Spain, titled: “When data tell stories”, from 24 to 26 May 2013. The event will take place simultaneously in Barcelona (CCCB + School of Communication Blaquerna) and Madrid (MediaLab Prado). Furthermore, they are planning a weekend Hackathon in the near future, which will hopefully take place in Madrid, Seville and Valladolid. There will be prizes for the best Data Journalism projects arising from this challenge within 48 hours – we’ll keep you updated as things develop.

In Belgium, apps are made and competitions are spreading…

In collaboration with the City of Ghent, iMinds, Ghent Web Valley and Ghent living lab, OKFN Belgium organized Apps for Ghent for the third time as part of an effort for citizens of the city of Ghent to show that Open Government Data can make the life of citizens easier, better or more fun. This edition welcomed 15 teams that worked on concepts from a smarter government service, to participation and sustainable energy. The local jury awarded Sumocoders with the first prize for “how busy is it now”, a tool that analyses different data sources to estimate which squares are too crowded. Congrats!

It is worth noting that Apps for Ghent is not the only Apps for X event initiated by OKFN Belgium. Soon there will be Apps for VDAB, Apps for Flanders, Apps for Geo, Apps for Culture and many more. A full list can be found in their calendar.

In Nepal, the newly founded group hosted first event and collaborated with fellow organizations…

The newly incubated OKFN Local Group in Nepal held its first public event on Document Freedom Day, coorganized with OSAC, Central Department of Library Science & Informatics and FOSS Nepal. They also collaborated with Wikimedia Nepal to create WikiWistar, a wiki outreach program. Finally, they translated the Panton Principles (soon to be published) and they were invited to present Open Tourism at a conference organized by ANNFSU P.U. Valley Bagmati Zome Coordination Committee.

In the Czech Republic, data enthusiasts and data journalists gathered…

The fifth meetup of Czech open data enthusiasts was held in Brno on 22 March. More than 40 people from various backgrounds gathered to share their ideas and discuss their work. On 25 March, Otakar Motejl Fund together with National Technical Library organised a hands-on data driven journalism workshop. It turned into a very pleasant and inspiring event and the participants (journalists, students, watchdog activists) learned quite a bit about structuring, cleaning a visualizing data. Check out the photos from the meetup.

In Iceland, CKAN was translated and a new government data license developed…

Another one of the brand new Local Groups, Iceland, has been busy completing the translation of CKAN 2.0. The Finnish ambassador Finnur Magnusson is also heading a workgroup within the Ministry of Finance to launch the instance as a part of www.Island.is  (hopefully next week). Additionally, the Iceland group have the first version of an approved open data gov license based on the UK one. This is the first government open data license in Iceland (details in Icelandic). The workgroup has followed the Open Data Handbook to the T with great success: 3 months from start to finish for open spending data in a CKAN instance with an open gov license.

And in other shorter news…

The Netherlands had a Linked Open Data meetup in Amsterdam, where also Sander van der Waal and Christian Villum from OKF Central took part with a presentation. Austria succesfully organized the ambitious bi-continental Urban Data Challenge that bridged Geneva, Zürich and San Francisco in an event that seeked to harvest the innovative and creative power of communities around the world to explore urban data sets through visualization – and did so with huge success (we’ll report more in a separate blog post). They also got a mention in Wired magazineOKFN Greece co-organized opnHealth this week, an event that hosted the live streaming of selected presentations from TEDxNijmengen, while also presenting a forum for new ideas and applications in the Greek health sector. OKFN Local Group France organized the “Opération Libre” event (Open Operation) on 6 and 7 April in the small village of Brocas – aiming at using open source technologies, open data, crowdsourcing to tackle the issues of rural areas (we’ll follow up on that, stay tuned). In France they also launched the Open Transition Energie project; a website and a datahub group to share, explore and visualize open data and other open resources related to the debate on energy transition in France.

On the translation front it was not only Brazil that shone, as mentioned earlier. OKFN Local Group China are very close to finishing translating Open Data Handbook into Chinese and thanks to OKFN Greece both OpenSpending and the Data Journalism Handbook was translated into Greek. Well done guys!

 

Global Community Stories #1: Australia, France, Greece and Finland!

Kat Braybrooke - March 13, 2013 in Community Stories, Featured, Meetups, OKF Australia, OKF Finland, OKF France, OKF Greece, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

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A new monthly digest showcasing initiatives from local communities across the globe

As you may have seen, the Open Knowledge Foundation’s many (30+!) Local Group communities have been hard at work over the last month, launching several exciting new initiatives, opening up data and engaging regional communities in interesting ways.

Given these new developments, we are happy to launch the first installment of the Global Community Voices series, a monthly wrap-up of some of the most interesting actions and initiatives happening in open knowledge communities around the world.

In Australia, a set of local mapping hackdata events

In Melbourne, the Australian Local Group is planning a set of public community events focused on mapping, data and the neighbourhood. Says Local Group organiser David Flanders, “I think mapping data is going to be a key tool for us and other Local Groups to help make regional data come alive. We are organising a series of hackdata events together with the help of friends from The Age newspaper, TileMill and OpenStreetMap to do cool things like producing printed cycle maps of Melbourne.”

The best part about this event series? “This is the type of thing anyone in any country can do! Who doesn’t want a beautiful printed map?”

In France, new projects around food security and energy conservation

In France, local organisers related to the Open Knowledge Foundation France Initiative have introduced community-focused open knowledge projects in two areas that have become increasingly salient for consumers and producers alike — food security and energy conservation.

The first emergent project, Open Food Facts, is a free, open collaborative database of food facts from around the world that aims to help consumers make better choices about what they put in their body. Based on these interactions, Open Food Facts hopes to motivate existing industries to take more care over the production of their food. A blog post with more details about this new project can be found here — and if you’d like to join the movement, the Open Food Facts team is currently collaborating with the Open Sustainability Working Group to get more people involved from around the world.

The second project, Open Transition Energie, is a collaborative website focused on “sharing, exploring and visualising data and other useful resources to engage with the national debate on energy transition” from a French perspective. Its members have also started a thematic group on the French open data platform NosDonnées.fr to share and reuse data related to this debate. Its organisers add, “We want to promote the work of researchers, engineers, journalists, NGOs and citizens who are interested in the question of the energy transition — so please let us know if you’d like to contribute or share a resource!”

In Greece, praise from Neelie Kroes for a new data portal

As you might have read on this blog last week, we were all quite excited to hear about the launch of a new self-hosted Greek Data Portal run by the talented team behind the Open Knowledge Foundation Greece Initiative, which integrates our data management software CKAN. We were even more excited to find out that European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes had released a public note of support for the new portal!

Says Ms. Kroes, “At a time when many Greeks are looking for new sources of inspiration and hope, I am pleased to say that the Open Knowledge Foundation is one of those sources. I encourage all public bodies to support this effort.”

In Finland, a call for regional working groups

Moving North, in Finland local organisers ran a very successful OKFN Finland Convention last month – and they have introduced another way to get involved with their efforts to engage citizens in open knowledge from a Finnish perspective – local installments of our thematic Working Groups, from Open Science to Open Government! Says the Open Knowledge Foundation Finland ry, “We hope that these regional instalments of Working Groups can work towards concrete change in Finland but also collaborate internationally, in the spirit of ‘think globally, act locally’”. For interested Finns, the OKF FI Board is accepting applications here until March 13, 2013.

That’s it for this edition – big thanks to local organisers in Australia, France, Greece and Finland for their great ideas and innovative new projects! We’ll be back next month with more exciting news from even more member nations across our Local Groups network, so definitely stay tuned!

Featured Image thanks to Daniel Schildt and used originally by the OKFN Finland Convention team.


Open Food Facts

Theodora Middleton - March 4, 2013 in Access to Information, OKF France, Open Data

One of the cool projects that OKF France were hacking away on during Open Data Day last weekend was Open Food Facts. It’s a free, open collaborative database of food facts from around the world, which aims to help consumers make better choices about what they put in their body, as well as motivating industry to take more care over the production of food.

Food is becoming an increasingly political issue. Food security has risen up the international agenda to become one of the most talked-about aspects of strategic planning for the future. From questions of who owns the patents on the seeds people need to survive, to questions of the effects of additives in your body, to understanding the impact of our consumption habits on the environment, information about food is much-needed and often difficult to come by.

The G8 is organising an International Conference on Open Data in Agriculture, to take place on the 28th and 29th April. The idea is to openly share useful, publicly funded information about agriculture across international borders, so the everyone can move towards greater food security. In particular, the G8 group have made a commitment to share this data with African countries to enable “a sustainable increase in food security”.

There’s an open call for ideas to present at the conference, so if you have thoughts about how open data can improve global food security and food use then think about getting in touch. The folk from Open Food Facts are submitting their ideas, and they’ve invited input into their letter explaining why the project is important. The deadline for submissions has been extended to the 8th March, so now’s the moment!

If you’d like to get involved in discussions about open data, food and sustainability more generally, sign up for our Open Sustainability Working Group.

Communia condemns the privatisation of the Public Domain by the BnF

Primavera De Filippi - January 21, 2013 in Bibliographic, COMMUNIA, OKF France, Public Domain

Last week the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) concluded two new agreements with private companies to digitze over 70.000 old books, 200.000 sound recordings and other documents belonging (either partially or as a whole) to the public domain. While these public private partnerships enable the digitization of these works they also contain 10-year exclusive agreements allowing the private companies carrying out the digitization to commercialize the digitized documents. During this period only a limited number of these works may be offered online by the BnF.

Together with La Quadrature du Net, Framasoft, SavoirsCom1 and the Open Knowledge Foundation France, COMMUNIA has issued a statement (in french) to express our profound disagreement with the terms of these partnerships that restrict digital access to an important part of Europe’s cultural heritage. The agreements that the BnF has entered into, effectively take the works being digitized out of the public domain for the next 10 years.

The value of the public domain lies in the free dissemination of knowledge and the ability for everyone to access and create new works based on previous works. Yet, instead of taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization, the exclusivity of these agreements will force public bodies, such as research institutions or university libraries, to purchase digital content that belongs to the common cultural heritage.

As such, these partnerships constitute a commodification of the public domain by contractual means. COMMUNIA, of which the OKFN is a partner, has been critical of such arrangements from the start (see their Public Domain Manifesto) and Policy Reccomendations 4 & 5. More interestingly these agreements are also in direct contradiction with the Public Domain Charter published by the Europeana Foundation in 2011. In this context it is interesting to note that the director of Bibliothèque nationale de France currently serves as the chairman of the Europeana Foundation’s Executive Board.

4 Ideas for Defending the Open Data Commons

Open Knowledge France - January 10, 2013 in Featured, Ideas and musings, OKF France, Open Data, Open Standards

The following post was written by Simon Chignard, author of L’Open data: Comprendre l’ouverture des données publiques. The post was originally posted on Simon’s blog following the launch of the Open Knowlege Foundation French national group, and has been translated by Samuel Goëta from OKFN France.

Open data and the commons: an old story?

Open Data Commons There is a direct link between the open data movement and the philosophy of common goods. Open data are an illustration of the notion of common informational goods proposed by Elinor Ostrom, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for economics. Open data belong to everyone and, unlike water and air (and other common goods), they are non-exclusive: their use by one does not prevent others. If I reuse an open data set, this does not prevent other reusers from doing so. This proximity between the commons and open data is also suggested by the presence of the initiator of Creative Commons licences, Lawrence Lessig, at the 2007 Sebastopol meeting in which the concept of open data itself was defined.

But despite the strong conceptual and historical linkages, it seems that we, as actors of open data, are often shy to reaffirm the relationship. In our efforts to encourage public and private bodies to embrace open data, we seem almost embarrassed of this cornerstone philosophy. The four proposals I make here aim at one thing: not letting it drop!

Idea #1: defend a real choice in terms of open data licences (“pro-choice” approach)

On paper, that sounds clear: there is a real choice in France in terms of open data licences. On one side, the open licence offered by Etalab (the French government institution in charge of government open data), on the other side, the Open Database License (ODbL). Government services must use the former, some local authorities have chosen the latter, generally based on some conception of the relationship between the commons and open data.

In practice, this choice is hindered by the difficulties, real or perceived, of the ODbL licence. The two licences are distinguished by the ODbL’s obligation to share alike, which is clearly a product of a belief in the common pot (if I use it, I must recontribute). But a strange music is playing in France, which warns against this “contaminating” licence. ODbL is accused of being against business, coming “from abroad”, or being the source of unpredictable dangers (such as counterfeiting).

We find ourselves in a situation where, at the same moment as big projects such as Open Street Map are adopting ODbL, new entrants in open data apply – sometimes in good faith – the principle of the least effort: “that share-alike thing seems complicated, we don’t really know the potential risks, I’d rather choose Licence Ouverte”.

As the initiator of the ODbL licence, the Open Knowledge Foundation should be its first promoter, explain its mechanisms and opportunities (not only to block Google). So that a real choice of open data licences stays possible (pro-choice approach)!

But the ODbL licence cannot by itself defend open data as part of the digital commons – below are three further tactics which need to be employed alongside it.

Ideal #2: the General Interest Data, G.I.D.

Let’s take an example that matters to everyone, which was addressed during a recent workshop run by Net:Lab – access to housing. In France, who has the best knowledge of the housing market? Who knows rent prices in great details and in real time, with an address and a complete description of the accommodation? Not the council, nor tax services, nor even the housing minister – but a private actor in real estate ads.

In France, we have a law for personal data (CNIL law), another for public data (CADA law). But what about data – personal, public or private – which serves the general interest? With a clearer and more dynamic vision of rents, one can imagine that everyone would be more informed on the real prices of the market (while making sure to limit the side effects of transparency).

Without demanding the requisition of the data (and of empty flats), one can imagine a digital tax system encouraging its release. There is already a tax break in France for research, why not for open data? As mentioned previously, this would require the definition of a new class of data, the G.I.D. (General Interest Data), associated with specific rights of access and reuse.

(Obviously, G.I.D. raises as many questions as it tackles – for example who will define general interest?)

Idea #3: Contribution peering: I contribute/I receive

The first period of open data has seen public actors (local authorities or governments) release their data to users, mainly developers. The emerging open data movement is becoming infinitely richer and more complex. Although the division of roles between producers and re-users seems quite established, it is evolving: public and collaborative open data are starting to mutually enrich each other, companies are starting to deliver data on themselves back to clients. How can we design a contribution mechanism which takes into account these evolutions, so as to make “common pots”?

The first step I would suggest is “peering of contribution” – as already exists for boat positioning systems (AIS data). Collaborative website Marine Traffic, launched in 2007, is now the first website in the world for tracking global naval traffic. More than 1000 contributors (equipped with an AIS receiver connected to the Internet) allow the daily tracking of 65,000 ships. The website now displays more that 2 million page views – per day (source: interview S. Chignard with Dimitris Lekkas, Greek scholar who developed the project). Everyone can visualise the data on the map displayed on the website, but if you wish to access raw data, you need to contribute to the service by connecting a new AIS receiver. Hence contribution peering encourages everyone to enhance the service (Marine Traffic is not the only website doing this – see for example the AIS Hub)

Idea #4: Contributive pricing on use (GET>POST)

The last suggestion I would like to make for the development and defence of an open data commons, is be pricing on use – an idea already mentioned in my blog about transport data. This would involve a variable pricing scheme for the use of data. APIs allow particularly well for this pricing method.

Let’s imagine, for example, that access to our G.I.D. be free for all, but that a contribution may be asked to the biggest users of an API who behave nearly as free riders (in economic theory, those who make use of others’ contributions without ever contributing themselves). Hence it would be free to anyone to choose whether to contribute by enhancing the data (updating, correcting), or by paying out-of-pocket!

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