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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.

Launching a new collaboration in Macedonia with Metamorphosis and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Guest - September 18, 2014 in Open Data

Dona

As part of the The Open Data Civil Society Network Project, School of Data Fellow, Dona Djambaska, who works with the local independent nonprofit, Metamorphosis, explains the value of the programme and what we hope to achieve over the next 24 months.

“The concept of Open Data is still very fresh among Macedonians. Citizens, CSOs and activists are just beginning to realise the meaning and power hidden in data. They are beginning to sense that there is some potential for them to use open data to support their causes, but in many cases they still don’t understand the value of open data, how to advocate for it, how to find it and most importantly – how to use it!

Metamorphosis was really pleased to get this incredible opportunity to work with the UK Foreign Office and our colleagues at Open Knowledge, to help support the open data movement in Macedonia. We know that an active open data ecosystem in Macedonia, and throughout the Balkan region, will support Metamorphosis’s core objectives of improving democracy and increasing quality of life for our citizens.

It’s great to help all these wonderful minds join together and co-build a community where everyone gets to teach and share. This collaboration with Open Knowledge and the UK Foreign Office is a really amazing stepping-stone for us.

We are starting the programme with meet-ups and then moving to more intense (online and offline) communications and awareness raising events. We hope our tailored workshops will increase the skills of local CSOs, journalists, students, activists or curious citizens to use open data in their work – whether they are trying to expose corruption or find new efficiencies in the delivery of government services.

We can already see the community being built, and the network spreading among Macedonian CSOs and hope that this first project will be part of a more regional strategy to support democratic processes across the Balkan region.”

Read our full report on the project: Improving governance and higher quality delivery of government services in Macedonia through open data


Dona Djambaska, Macedonia.

Dona graduated in the field of Environmental Engineering and has been working with the Metamorphosis foundation in Skopje for the past six years assisting on projects in the field of information society.

There she has focused on organising trainings for computer skills, social media, online promotion, photo and video activism. Dona is also an active contributor and member of the Global Voices Online community. She dedicates her spare time to artistic and activism photography.

Open data for Development Training Starts Tomorrow!

Katelyn Rogers - September 16, 2014 in Open Data, Open Government Data

This is a guest post written by Justyna Krol of the UNDP and originally posted on the UNDP blog.
development

>> Is data literacy the key to citizen engagement in anti-corruption efforts?

Access to open data is transforming the way we live of our lives, and the conversation in our region is just beginning.

Governments are opening their data, joining the Open Government Partnership, and trying to work together with the civil society organizations and the private sector to build an open data ecosystem in their countries.

This Wednesday, public officials from fifteen countries in the region will meet in Istanbul for the Open Data for Social and Economic Development Training.

 

In two days of intensive sessions, we will be discussing a number of pressing topics.

On the day one, the focus will be on the arguments for and against implementation of the open data agenda in the region.

We will look at how best to build an open data ecosystem in the country. Three sessions will provide space to discuss country-specific experiences with opening the data, alongside some of the challenges governments in the region might face.

The second day will be devoted to the technical aspects. We will analyze what it means to really open the data, where to start, and how much does it cost. We will test a few useful tools, and discuss the follow-up to the event for individual countries.

For those of you, who are interested in joining the event online, we are going to live stream the first session delivered by the World Bank on Wednesday (9:00 AM EEST).

A presentation by Oleg Petrov and Andrew Stott will be followed by a panel discussion with experts from Moldova, fYR Macedonia, and Kosovo* sharing their experiences in opening governmental data.

To watch this session, join us the hangout on air or simply play this video:

And of course, we’ll be tweeting!

I am proud to say that the event is co-sponsored by the Partnership for Open Data, which also means that we will have with us fantastic experts and trainers from: the World Bank, the Open Data Institute and the Open Knowledge Foundation. What a treat!

Join us online this Wednesday and Thursday and stay tuned for post-event blog posts and presentations!

 

Matchmakers in Action – Help Wanted

Heather Leson - September 11, 2014 in Community, Events, Ideas and musings

Do you have a skill to share? Want to host an online discussion/debate about an Open Knowledge-like topic? Have an idea for a skillshare or discussion, but need help making it happen? Some of you hosted or attended sessions at OKFest. Why not host one online? At OKFestival, we had an Open Matchmaker wall to connect learning and sharing. This is a little experiment to see if we can replicate that spirit online. We’d love to collaborate with you to make this possible.

photo by Gregor Fischer

How to help with Online Community Sessions:

We’ve set up a Community Trello board where you can add ideas, sign up to host or vote for existing ideas. Trello, a task management tool, has fairly simple instructions.

The Community Sessions Trello Board is live. Start with the Read me First card.

Hosting or leading a Community Session is fairly easy. You can host it via video or even as an editathon or a IRC chat.

  • For video, we have been using G+. We can help you get started on this.
  • For Editathons, you could schedule it, share on your favourite communications channel and then use a shared document like a google doc or an etherpad.
  • For an IRC chat, simply set up a topic, time and trello card to start planning.

We highly encourage you to do the sessions in your own language.

Upcoming Community Sessions

We have a number of timeslots open for September – October 2014. We will help you get started and even co-host a session online. As a global community, we are somewhat timezone agnostic. Please suggest a time that works for you and that might work with others in the community.

In early October, we will be joined by Nika Aleksejeva of Infogr.am to do a Data Viz 101 skillshare. She makes it super easy for beginners to use data to tell stories.

The Data Viz 101 session is October 8, 2014. Register here.

Community Session Conversation – September 10, 2014

In this 40 minute community conversation, we brainstormed some ideas and talked about some upcoming community activities:

Some of the ideas shared including global inclusiveness and how to fundraise. Remember to vote or share your ideas. Or, if you are super keen, we would love it if you would lead an online session.

(photo by Gregor Fischer)

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.

1

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

September Community Summit On Air

Heather Leson - September 3, 2014 in Community, Events, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Working Groups

We’re hosting a September Community Call. Join us to discuss a number of community programming ideas and help make a plan. All welcome. okfest by artepilpilean

(Amazing drawing by Artepilpilean)

  • What: September Community Summit On Air
  • Date: Wednesday, September 10th
  • Your Local time:
  • 8:00 – 9:00 EDT, 13:00 – 14:00 BST, 14:00 – 15:00 CEST (Also see worldtimebuddy.com)
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Registration
Draft Agenda
  • Talk about how to implement some of the OKFest Community Summit Outputs
  • Source: )
  • Outline the International Council
  • Plan Fall Community programming (e.g. Skillshares)

Talk Soon!

Open Government countries ranking 2013 (based on OGP data)

Guest - August 22, 2014 in Open Government Data

This is a guest post by Alberto Abella, head of the Spanish Chapter of Open Knowledge, and originally appeared at gobernamos.com.

Open Government (ogov) is possibly next democracy’s milestone.

Should you care about open government? Possibly, because it guarantees transparency and accountability. But not only IMHO. In 2014 this passive role for the citizens is not enough. The disruptive point about open government is the use of collective intelligence to take smarter political decisions for current and future challenges.

OGP is a global organization with 64 member countries helping each other to implement open government policies. Its members publish and deploy yearly an open goverment plan with specific actions. These plans are reviewed not only by countries’ authorities but also by the civil society. This social dialogue review include an Independent Reporting Mechanism.

Results

Let’s review results for 2013. Raw data for this analysis are published by OGP, and anybody can download them (commitments and achievements).Good!

Find in the graph 2013 results about what countries really implement of their plans.In order to get these results four factors have been taken into account :

First, if the action is specific of an ogov approach, second, if the action really impact on current politics, third if the action is new or is the same from past years. And last but not least, if the action has been really implemented completely, partially, or even withdrawn.

Three medals goes to Slovakia, Moldova and Croatia.

You can find the metric to create this graph here. It is true that metric is far from being perfect, so I expect you comments.

The good performers

Good performers are those countries which provide tiny ambitious plans but they implement quite above average. There are 3 remarkable countries Paraguay, Denmark and Czeck Republic. Data

Pretenders

What about the pretenders? Pretenders are those who provide very ambitious plans but fail in implementation.

The three pretenders are Estonia, Romania and Greece out of those who are in the first 25. Data.

Last but they are the least

These countries does not provide their information on time, so the analysis ranks them at the bottom

USA, UK, South Africa, Philippines, Mexico, Indonesia and Brazil. Data
Ambition

Over ambition is tempting in politics. Here you can find a classification of the countries’ plans based on the ambition of their actions, in terms of impact, new actions and ogov relevance.


Wait and see 2014.

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!

Code for Germany launched!

Guest - August 6, 2014 in OKF Germany, Open Data

This is a guest blog post by Fiona Krakenbürger, research associate at Open Knowledge Foundation DE and Community Manager at Code for Germany

CFG_500x500.jpg

In July 2014, the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany launched its program “Code for Germany! Prior to the OK Festival in Berlin, we presented the project to the media, international partners, city representatives, members of our Advisory Board and friends from far and wide. It was a honour for us to welcome partners, supporters and members of the program to the stage. Among them were Lynn Fine from Code for America, Gabriella Goméz-Mont from the Laboratorio para la Ciudad, Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost (Digital Champion Germany) and Nicolas Zimmer (Technologiestiftung Berlin).

An essential focus of the launch and of the project was directed towards the community of Civic Tech pioneers and Open Data enthusiasts. We wanted developers and designers who are interested and active in the field of Open Data to get involved and inspired to start Open Knowledge Labs in their city. We started Code for Germany.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-08-06 um 12.43.33.png

The feedback so far has been amazing. In the past few months, fourteen Labs have sprouted up all across the country, bringing together more than 150 people on a regular basis to work on civic tech, use open data, and make the most of their skills to better their cities. This has all added up to more than 4000 hours of civic hacking and has resulted in multiple apps and projects.

The different OK Labs have been the source of a great variety of projects, tackling different topics and social challenges. For example, the OK Lab in Hamburg has a strong focus on urban development, and have created a map which shows the distribution of playgrounds in the city. An app from the OK Lab Heilbronn depicts the quality of tap water according to the region, and another from the OK Lab Cologne helps users find the closest defibrillator in their area. One more of our favourite developments is called “Kleiner Spatz”, which translates to “Little Sparrow” and helps parents find available child care spaces in their city.

We could go on and on listing our favourite projects, prototypes and ideas emerging from the OK Labs but why not check out the list for yourself to see what amazing things can be built with technology?

Bildschirmfoto 2014-08-06 um 12.39.20.png

Still, this is just the beginning. We are now going into the next phase: In the coming months we want to strengthen the various communities and establish ties with officials, governments and administrations. We believe that the government of the 21st Century should be open, transparent and accountable. Therefore we want to foster innovation in the field of Open Data, Civic Innovation and Public Services and create fertile collaborations between citizens and governments. Numerous useful visualizations and apps created by the OK Labs have now laid the foundation for these developments.

We are so excited about the upcoming events, projects, partners and inspiring people we have yet to meet. So far, Code for Germany has been a blast! And last (but certainly not least) we would like to express our most heartfelt gratitude towards the community of developers and designers who have contributed so much already. You rock & stay awesome!

Bildschirmfoto 2014-08-06 um 12.41.07.png

25 Countries in the Same Room: The OKFestival Community Summit

Christian Villum - August 1, 2014 in Community, Featured, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

OKFestival Community Summit

Photo by Heather Leson, CC-BY-SA

Two weeks back, over 1,000 people gathered in Berlin to co-create the future of the open knowledge movement. Even before OKFestival had officially kicked off, over 50 people from over 25 countries piled into a crowded, hot room on a glorious Berlin afternoon, to work through the pressing issues, opportunities and challenges facing the Open Knowledge community.

Over the course of three hours we talked about how to develop better peer to peer mentorship across our global network, how to ensure the sustainability of emerging local groups and Chapters & took a close look at what exactly we are – are we a movement, are we an organisation, are we a community?

These questions could never be completely answered in one three hour session but we did make some exceptional progress and observed quite a few common themes emerging – themes also to be witnessed over the course of the following festival as well!

Sharing Knowledge

As a concept, open knowledge is all about sharing knowledge but it seems that, as a community, we still have some way to go in exemplifying that ideal. During the community summit, we discussed how we could share knowledge about fundraising between Open Knowledge and Local Groups, how our Local Groups could better share their experiences and teach each other. We also were introduced to Open Steps, a fantastic initiative by two community members who spent the past year traveling the world and documenting the open knowledge movement along the way. They are now developing a directory that would allow us to map where people are working on open knowledge activities to facilitate partnerships and knowledge sharing beyond already established networks or country lines.

OKFestival Community Summit

Photo by Christian Villum, CC-BY-SA

Peer mentoring and skillshares

Another significant topic on the agenda was the discussion of how we could better transfer skills and know-how between newcomers and more experienced members of the community. There are already a series of initiatives pursuing these goals, for instance the series of Community Sessions hosted by Open Knowledge Central – as well as the regional calls organized around the world by members of the community. It was clear though that one of the main missing pieces in the puzzle is the facilitation of more day-to-day based mentoring, peer to peer, perhaps only involving 2 people – the mentor and the mentee – and also something that stretches over a longer period rather than being limited to a single session on Skype or a Hangout. Additionally one barrier that was very clear was the fact that people are living far apart, often having many time zones in between them, therefore prompting a need to rely on online tools – not only for communicating, but also to find each other and identify who to talk to. These are challenges that we, as a community of which Open Knowledge Central is also a part, will look much more into over the coming weeks and months. Lots of ideas are already brewing and a handful of community members have dedicated themselves to sketch out a plan for a mentoring program.

Open knowledge in the Global South

A growing portion of the global community are based in what can be referred to as the Global South and therefore have some additional needs and challenges as compared to countries in more structured environments. As it was noted, some members of the community even operate in areas that can be considered downright hostile. Oppressive governments, corrupt civil servants, failing IT-infrastructure, cultures of domestic oppression, language barriers (highlighted by the high level of anglo-fication characterizing the open knowledge field) and even illiteracy are just some of the factors that make up for a very different playing field for some open knowledge advocates, and in such cases peer support, resource/skill sharing and even funding becomes of increasing value and significance. We need to collaborate to localize key documents across languages, provide toolkits in downloadable and remixable online formats, challenge gender roles, move beyond Internet-driven activism and put international pressure on governments that work actively to hinder the free gathering of people in these regions.

OKFestival Community Summit

Photo by Christian Villum, CC-BY-SA

Community Identity & Re-branding

During the discussions we also revisited some of the discussions had earlier in the year around some of the branding/visions/values/strategy-related updates brought about by the central Open Knowledge organisation. It’s clear that more community consultation is needed around changes in such basic foundations, but what appeared during these face to face chats was also an understanding that some of the discontent and frustration put forward by parts of the community was rooted not only in these concrete issues, but also in some of the more deeper challenges of the community and organisation: For instance, how do we perceive ourselves as the community grows and grows at an almost explosive rate? What is our identity? The small family is growing into the thousands and the dynamics that used to be are clearly being replaced by others. Does it need to be that way? Can we avoid it? And if not, how do we cope with it and ensure the same level of transparency across the community and the organisation? We also need to define more clearly what the role of the Local Groups, the Working Groups and the Chapters – the most formal part of the community – is in this new reality of an increasingly larger body of people all associating themselves with our shared cause. This is clearly a conversation that will continue way beyond this community summit, and rightfully so!

We are currently writing up all the notes and will put them on the wiki as soon as we have collated them all. Jump on board and comment if you have thoughts or ideas!

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