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Newsflash! OKFestival Programme Launches

Beatrice Martini - June 4, 2014 in Events, Free Culture, Join us, Network, News, OKFest, OKFestival, Open Access, Open Data, Open Development, Open Economics, Open Education, Open GLAM, Open Government Data, Open Humanities, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Open Research, Open Science, Open Spending, Open Standards, Panton Fellows, Privacy, Public Domain, Training, Transparency, Working Groups

At last, it’s here!

Check out the details of the OKFestival 2014 programme – including session descriptions, times and facilitator bios here!

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We’re using a tool called Sched to display the programme this year and it has several great features. Firstly, it gives individual session organisers the ability to update the details on the session they’re organising; this includes the option to add slides or other useful material. If you’re one of the facilitators we’ll be emailing you to give you access this week.

Sched also enables every user to create their own personalised programme to include the sessions they’re planning to attend. We’ve also colour-coded the programme to help you when choosing which conversations you want to follow: the Knowledge stream is blue, the Tools stream is red and the Society stream is green. You’ll also notice that there are a bunch of sessions in purple which correspond to the opening evening of the festival when we’re hosting an Open Knowledge Fair. We’ll be providing more details on what to expect from that shortly!

Another way to search the programme is by the subject of the session – find these listed on the right hand side of the main schedule – just click on any of them to see a list of sessions relevant to that subject.

As you check out the individual session pages, you’ll see that we’ve created etherpads for each session where notes can be taken and shared, so don’t forget to keep an eye on those too. And finally; to make the conversations even easier to follow from afar using social media, we’re encouraging session organisers to create individual hashtags for their sessions. You’ll find these listed on each session page.

We received over 300 session suggestions this year – the most yet for any event we’ve organised – and we’ve done our best to fit in as many as we can. There are 66 sessions packed into 2.5 days, plus 4 keynotes and 2 fireside chats. We’ve also made space for an unconference over the 2 core days of the festival, so if you missed out on submitting a proposal, there’s still a chance to present your ideas at the event: come ready to pitch! Finally, the Open Knowledge Fair has added a further 20 demos – and counting – to the lineup and is a great opportunity to hear about more projects. The Programme is full to bursting, and while some time slots may still change a little, we hope you’ll dive right in and start getting excited about July!

We think you’ll agree that Open Knowledge Festival 2014 is shaping up to be an action-packed few days – so if you’ve not bought your ticket yet, do so now! Come join us for what will be a memorable 2014 Festival!

See you in Berlin! Your OKFestival 2014 Team

Network Summit

Naomi Lillie - July 19, 2013 in Network, Open GLAM, Open Government Data, Open Humanities, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Open Science, Our Work, Talks, Working Groups

Twice-yearly the whole community of the Open Knowledge Foundation gathers together to share with, learn from and support one another. The Summer Summit 2013 took place in Cambridge (UK) last week (10th-14th July), with staff updates on the Thursday and network representatives joining on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It was so inspiring to hear what our network has been doing to further the Open movement recently and over the last 6 months!

We heard from Local Groups about how these groups have been effecting change in all our locations around the world:

  • Alberto for OKFN Spain has been promoting open transparency in budgets, including their own, and using the power of events to gather people;
  • OKFN Taiwan, represented by TH (who we believe travelled the furthest to be with us in person), has also been investing in many large events, including one event for developers and others attracting 2,000 people! They have also been supporting local and central governments on open data regulation;
  • Charalampos of OKFN Greece highlighted the recent support of their works by Neelie Kroes, and took us through crashmap.okfn.gr which maps accidents using data from police departments and census data along with crowd-sourced data;
  • Pierre at OKF France reported that they have been helping redesign the national open data portal, as well as developing an open data portal for children and young people which kids which may align well with School of Data;
  • OpenData.ch, the Swiss Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation of course is hosting OKCon in September, and Hannes updated on exciting developments here. He also reported on work to lobby and support government by developing visualisations of budget proposals, developing a federal-level open data strategy and policy, and promoting a national open data portal. Thanks to their efforts, a new law was accepted on open weather data, with geodata next up;
  • David updated on OKFN Australia where there is support from government to further the strong mandate for open scientific data. The newspaper the Age has been a firm ally, making data available for expenses and submissions to political parties, and a project to map Melbourne bicycle routes was very successful;
  • Francesca of OKF Italy has been working alongside Open Streetmap and Wikimedia Italy, as well as with parliament on the Open Transport manifesto. They have also been opening up ecological data, from “spaghetti open data”;
  • OKFN Netherlands was represented by Kersti, who reported a shared sense of strength in open government data and open development, as well as in the movement Open for Change (where OKCon is listed as the top ‘Open Development Event’!);
  • Dennis, for OKF Ireland, has been pushing the local events and gathering high-profile ‘rock stars’ of the open data world as well as senior government representatives. He has also presented on open data in parliament;
  • OKF Scotland is a growing grassroots community, as conveyed by Ewan – an Open Data Day asserted the importance of connecting to established grassroots communities who are already doing interesting things with data. They are also working closely with government to release data and organised local hackdays with children and young people;
  • Bill joined us remotely to update on OKF Hong Kong, where regular meet-ups and hackdays are providing a great platform for people to gather around open knowledge. Although not able to join us in person (like Everton / Tom from OKF Brasil) Bill was keen to report that OKF Hong Kong will be represented at OKCon!
  • OKF Austria‘s update was given by Walter, who informed us that transport data is now properly openly licensed and that several local instances of the international Working Groups have been set up. Which segues nicely, as…

It wasn’t just during the planned sessions where community-building and networking occurred: despite the scorching 30°C (86°F) heat – somewhat warmer than the Winter Summit in January! – people made the most of lunchtimes and breaks to share ideas and plan.

We also heard from Working Groups about how crossing international boundaries is making a difference to Open for all of us:

  • Open Sustainability was represented by Jack who explained Cleanweb (an initiative to use clean technologies for good, engaging with ESPA to open up data) and has set up @opensusty on Twitter as a communication route for anyone wanting to connect;
  • Ben, newly involved with Open Development, explained about the group’s plans to make IATI‘s released data useful, and bringing together existing initiatives to create a data revolution;
  • Open Science, represented by Ross, has been very active with lobbying and events, with the mailing list constantly buzzing with discussions on open data, licensing and convincing others;
  • Daniel explained that Open Government Data, being one of the largest groups with 924 mailing list members, has provided an important role as being at the heart of the Open Government Data movement, as a place for people to go to for questions and – hopefully! – answers. Daniel will be stepping down, so get in touch if you would like to help lead this group; in the meantime, the Steering Committee will be helping support the group;
  • OpenGLAM has also developed an Advisory Board, said Joris. There is good global reach for Open GLAM advocacy, and people are meeting every month. Documents, case studies, slide-decks and debates are available to new joiners to get started, and the Austrian instance of the Working Group demonstrated the process works. (Joris has now sadly left Open Knowledge Foundation ‘Central’, but we are delighted he will stay on as volunteer Coordinator for this group!);
  • Public Domain, with Primavera reporting, has been working on Public Domain Calculators in partnership with the government. PD Remix launched in France in May, and Culture de l’Europe will present at OKCon;
  • Primavera also updated on Open Design, where future planning has taken priority. The Open Design Definition has been a highlight but funding would help further activity and there are plans to seek this proactively. Chuff, the Open Knowledge Foundation Mascot, was pleased to get a mention…

It should be noted that these activities and updates are brief highlights only – distilling the activities of our groups into one or two sentences each is very much unrepresentative of the amount of things we could talk about here!

We also made time for socialising at the Summit, and much fun was had with Scrabble, playing frisbee and punting – not to mention celebrating Nigel‘s birthday!

As an aside, I was going to state that “we only need an Antarctic representative and the Open Knowledge Foundation will have all seven continents in our network”; however, it appears there is no definitive number of continents or agreed land-masses! An amalgamated list is Africa (Africa/Middle East and North Africa), America (Central/North/South), Antarctica, Australia (Australia/Oceania) and Eurasia (Europe/Asia)… but, however you wish to define the global divisions (and isn’t it pleasing that it’s difficult to do so?), Antarctica is the only area the Open Knowledge Foundation is not represented! Are you reading this from an outstation at the South Pole, or know someone there, and want to contribute to open knowledge? Apply to become an Ambassador and be the person to cement the Open Knowledge Foundation as the fully global demonstration of the Open movement.

If you’re in an unrepresented area – geographic or topic – we’d love to hear from you, and if you’re in a represented area we’d love to put you in touch with others. Get Involved and connect with the Open Knowledge Foundation Network – and maybe we’ll see you at the next Summit!

Images 1, 4-7 and front page: Velichka Dimitrova. Images 2 and 3: Marieke Guy, CC-BY-NC-ND

Announcing the Open Humanities Award Winners

Sam Leon - May 8, 2013 in Featured, Open GLAM, Open Humanities

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Earlier this year, as part of the DM2E project, we put out a call to humanities academics and technologists to see if they could come up with innovative ideas for small technology projects that would further humanities research by using open content, open data and/or open source.

We’re very pleased to announce that the winners are Dr Bernhard Haslhofer (University of Vienna) and Dr Robyn Adams (Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, University College London). Both winners will receive financial support to help them undertake the work they proposed and will be blogging about the progress of their project. You can follow their progress via the DM2E blog.


Award 1: Semantic tagging for old maps… and other things

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The first Award goes to Dr Bernhard Haslhofer of Vienna University. His project will involve building on an open source web application he has been working on called Maphub.

Dr Haslhofer told us a little bit about the inspiration for his project:

“People love old maps” is a statement that we heard a lot from curators in libraries. This combined with the assumption that many people also have knowledge to share or stories to tell about historical maps, was our motivation to build Maphub.

In essence Maphub is an open source Web application that, first of all, pulls out digitized historical maps from closed environments, adds zooming functionality, and assigns Web URIs so that people can talk about them online. It also supports two main use cases:

(i) georeferencing maps by linking points on the map to Geonames locations; (ii) commenting on maps or map regions by creating annotations. While users are entering their comments, Maphub analyzes the entered text on the fly and suggests so-called semantic tags, which the user accepts or rejects.

Semantic tags appear like “normal” tags on the user interface, but are in fact links to DBpedia resources. In that way, the user links her annotations and therefore also the underlying historical map with resources from two open data sources. Besides consuming open data during the annotation authoring process, Maphub also contributes collected knowledge back as open data by exposing all annotations following the W3C Open Annotation specification. In that way, Maphub supports people in a loop of using and producing open data in the context of historical maps.

Dr Haslhofer looks forward to seeing how collaborations will blossom between these various web annotation systems:

We believe that people also love other things on the Web and that Web annotation tools should support semantic tagging as well. Therefore, we will make it available as a plugin for Annotorious. Annotorious is a JavaScript image annotation library that can be used in any Website, and is also compatible with the Open Knowledge’s Foundations’s Annotator.

Annotorious and Maphub have common origins and the Open Humanities will support us in unifing parallel development streams into a single, reusable annotation tool that works for digitized maps but also for other media. We will also conduct another user study to inform the design of that function for other application contexts.


Award 2: Joined Up Early Modern Diplomacy: Linked Data from the Correspondence of Thomas Bodley

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The second award goes to Dr Robyn Adams of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, University College London. The project will re-purpose the open resource that Dr Adams has been building with a team of others: the Diplomatic Correspondence of Thomas Bodley.

The project will use ‘additional’ information that was encoded into the digitisation of early modern letters that took place at the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters. In the initial incarnation of the project this data which included biographical and geographical information contained within letters was not used (although it was encoded).

Dr Adams told us a little bit about what she plans on doing with the money from the Awards:

With the prize funding from the Open Humanities Awards, we propose to mine the data that was generated but not fully used in the first phase of the project. This data is a rich source of biographical and geographical information, the visualization of which evokes the complex and diverse texture of the late sixteenth-century European diplomatic and military landscape. Bodley’s position in The Hague as the only English representative on the Dutch Council of State put him at the centre of a heterogeneous nexus of correspondents a time long before the Republic of Letters burgeoned in the subsequent century.

The project will interrogate three data fields within the larger data set of Bodley’s diplomatic correspondence in order to generate visualizations; the network of correspondents and recipients, and the people and places mentioned within the letters. These visualizations will be incorporated into the project website, where they will enhance and extend the knowledge derived from the existing corpus of correspondence. The visualizations, which will have scope to be playful while drawn from scrupulous scholarship, will offer an alternative pathway for scholars and the interested public to understand that in this period especially, the political, university and kinship networks were fundamental to advancement and prosperity.

“In mapping the relational activity between data sets,” Dr Adams went on, “I hope to further illuminate and reanimate Bodley’s position within the Elizabethan compass. Furthermore, I hope to demonstrate that fruitful routes of enquiry can result if scholars commit to going the extra mile to encode and record data in their research that may not have immediate relevance to their own studies.”


We offer our heartiest congratulations to the both Dr Haslhofer and Dr Adams both of whom will be presenting their work at the forthcoming Web as Literature conference at the British Library and this year’s OKCon in Geneva. Follow the progress of the Awards recipients via the DM2E project website.

What We Hope the Digital Public Library of America Will Become

Jonathan Gray - April 17, 2013 in Bibliographic, Featured, Free Culture, Open Content, Open GLAM, Open Humanities, Policy, Public Domain

Tomorrow is the official launch date for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

If you’ve been following it, you’ll know that it has the long term aim of realising “a large-scale digital public library that will make the cultural and scientific record available to all”.

More specifically, Robert Darnton, Director of the Harvard University Library and one of the DPLA’s leading advocates to date, recently wrote in the New York Review of Books, that the DPLA aims to:

make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans—and eventually to everyone in the world—online and free of charge

What will this practically mean? How will the DPLA translate this broad mission into action? And to what extent will they be aligned with other initiatives to encourage cultural heritage institutions to open up their holdings, like our own OpenGLAM or Wikimedia’s GLAM-WIKI?

Here are a few of our thoughts on what we hope the DPLA will become.

A force for open metadata

The DPLA is initially focusing its efforts on making existing digital collections from across the US searchable and browsable from a single website.

Much like Europe’s digital library, Europeana, this will involve collecting information about works from a variety of institutions and linking to digital copies of these works that are spread across the web. A super-catalogue, if you will, that includes information about and links to copies of all the things in all the other catalogues.

Happily, we’ve already heard that the DPLA is releasing all of this data about cultural works that they will be collecting using the CC0 legal tool – meaning that anyone can use, share or build on this information without restriction.

We hope they continue to proactively encourage institutions to explicitly open up metadata about their works, and to release this as machine-readable raw data.

Back in 2007, we – along with the late Aaron Swartz – urged the Library of Congress to play a leading role in opening up information about cultural works. So we’re pleased that it looks like DPLA could take on the mantle.

But what about the digital copies themselves?

A force for an open digital public domain

The DPLA has spoken about using fair use provisions to increase access to copyrighted materials, and has even intimated that they might want to try to change or challenge the state of the law to grant further exceptions or limitations to copyright for educational or noncommercial purposes (trying to succeed where Google Books failed). All of this is highly laudable.

But what about works which have fallen out of copyright and entered the public domain?

Just as they are doing with metadata about works, we hope that the DPLA takes a principled approach to digital copies of works which have entered the public domain, encouraging institutions to publish these without legal or technical restrictions.

We hope they become proactive evangelists for a digital public domain which is open as in the Open Definition, meaning that digital copies of books, paintings, recordings, films and other artefacts are free for anyone to use and share – without restrictive clickwrap agreements, digital rights management technologies or digital watermarks to impose ownership and inhibit further use or sharing.

The Europeana Public Domain Charter, in part based on and inspired by the Public Domain Manifesto, might serve as a model here. In particular, the DPLA might take inspiration from the following sections:

What is in the Public Domain needs to remain in the Public Domain. Exclusive control over Public Domain works cannot be re-established by claiming exclusive rights in technical reproductions of the works, or by using technical and or contractual measures to limit access to technical reproductions of such works. Works that are in the Public Domain in analogue form continue to be in the Public Domain once they have been digitised.

The lawful user of a digital copy of a Public Domain work should be free to (re-) use, copy and modify the work. Public Domain status of a work guarantees the right to re-use, modify and make reproductions and this must not be limited through technical and or contractual measures. When a work has entered the Public Domain there is no longer a legal basis to impose restrictions on the use of that work.

The DPLA could create their own principles or recommendations for the digital publication of public domain works (perhaps recommending legal tools like the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark) as well as ensuring that new content that they digitise is explicitly marked as open.

Speaking at our OpenGLAM US launch last month, Emily Gore, the DPLA’s Director for Content, said that this is definitely something that they’d be thinking about over the coming months. We hope they adopt a strong and principled position in favour of openness, and help to raise awareness amongst institutions and the general public about the importance of a digital public domain which is open for everyone.

A force for collaboration around the cultural commons

Open knowledge isn’t just about stuff being able to freely move around on networks of computers and devices. It is also about people.

We think there is a significant opportunity to involve students, scholars, artists, developers, designers and the general public in the curation and re-presentation of our cultural and historical past.

Rather than just having vast pools of information about works from US collections – wouldn’t it be great if there were hand picked anthologies of works by Emerson or Dickinson curated by leading scholars? Or collections of songs or paintings relating to a specific region, chosen by knowledgable local historians who know about allusions and references that others might miss?

An ‘open by default’ approach would enable use and engagement with digital content that breathes a life into it that it might not otherwise have – from new useful and interesting websites, mobile applications or digital humanities projects, to creative remixing or screenings of out of copyright films with new live soundtracks (like Air’s magical reworking of Georges Méliès’s 1902 film Le Voyage Dans La Lune).

We hope that the DPLA takes a proactive approach to encouraging the use of the digital material that it federates, to ensure that it is as impactful and valuable to as many people as possible.

Open Humanities Awards: 10 Days Left to Apply!

Sam Leon - March 4, 2013 in Open Humanities

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A couple of weeks ago we announced the Open Humanities Awards a fantastic new initiative to support innovative projects that use open data, open content or open source to further teaching and research in the humanities.

There are €15,000 of prizes on offer for 3-5 projects lasting up to 6 months. The winners will be given the opportunity to present their work at the world’s largest Open Knowledge event, OKFestival.

The deadline for applications is 13th March so there is less than 10 days to go before we start judging the applications. We want to support a whole variety of projects that support humanities research and use the open web. So whether you’re interested in patterns of allusion in Aristotle, networks of correspondence in the Jewish Enlightenment or digitising public domain editions of Dante do think about applying!

Go to the Awards website to apply and for any queries email me on sam.leon@okfn.org.

€15,000 of Prizes on Offer for Open Humanities Projects

Sam Leon - February 13, 2013 in Featured, Open Humanities

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We are excited to announce the first ever Open Humanities Awards. There are €15,000 worth of prizes on offer for 3-5 projects that use open content, open data or open source tools to further humanities teaching and research. Whether you’re interested in patterns of allusion in Aristotle, networks of correspondence in the Jewish Enlightenment or digitising public domain editions of Dante, we’d love to hear about the kinds of open projects that could support your interest!

Why are we running these Awards?

Humanities research is based on the interpretation and analysis of a wide variety of cultural artefacts including texts, images and audiovisual material. Much of this material is now freely and openly available on the internet enabling people to discover, connect and contextualise cultural artefacts in ways previously very difficult.

We want to make the most of this new opportunity by encouraging budding developers and humanities researchers to collaborate and start new projects that use this open content and data paving the way for a vibrant cultural and research commons to emerge.

Who can apply?

The Awards are open to any citizen of the EU.

Who is judging the Awards?

The Awards will be judged by a stellar cast of leading Digital Humanists:

What do we want to see?

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The Mapping the Republic of Letters project is a great example of what is possible with humanities data

We are challenging humanities researchers, designers and developers to create innovative projects open content, open data or open source to further teaching or research in the humanities.

For example you might want to:

  • Start a project to collaboratively transcribe, annotate, or translate public domain texts
  • Explore patterns of citation, allusion and influence using bibliographic metadata or textmining
  • Analyse and/or visually represent complex networks or hidden patterns in collections of texts
  • Use computational tools to generate new insights into collections of public domain images, audio or texts

You could start a project from scratch or build on an existing project. For inspiration you can have a look at the open-source tools the Open Knowledge Foundation has developed for use with cultural resources.

As long as your project involves open content, open data or open source tools and makes a contribution to humanities research, the choice is yours!

Who is behind the awards?

The Awards are being coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation and are part of the DM2E project. They are also supported by the Digital Humanities Quarterly.

How to apply

Applications are open from today (13th February 2013). Go to openhumanitiesawards.org to apply. The application deadline is 12th March 2013, so get going and good luck!

More information…

For more information on the Awards including the rules and ideas for open datasets and tools to use visit openhumanitiesawards.org.

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