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Storytelling with Infogr.am

Heather Leson - October 21, 2014 in Events, Interviews

infogram

As we well know, Data is only data until you use it for storytelling and insights. Some people are super talented and can use D3 or other amazing visual tools, just see this great list of resources on Visualising Advocacy. In this 1 hour Community Session, Nika Aleksejeva of Infogr.am shares some easy ways that you can started with simple data visualizations. Her talk also includes tips for telling a great story and some thoughtful comments on when to use various data viz techniques.

We’d love you to join us and do a skillshare on tools and techniques. Really, we are tool agnostic and simply want to share with the community. Please do get in touch and learn more: about Community Sessions.

New Open Knowledge Initiative on the Future of Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Jonathan Gray - October 21, 2014 in Open Access, Open Humanities, Open Research, WG Humanities

This post is part of our Open Access Week blog series to highlight great work in Open Access communities around the world.

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To coincide with Open Access Week, Open Knowledge is launching a new initiative focusing on the future of open access in the humanities and social sciences.

The Future of Scholarship project aims to build a stronger, better connected network of people interested in open access in the humanities and social sciences. It will serve as a central point of reference for leading voices, examples, practical advice and critical debate about the future of humanities and social sciences scholarship on the web.

If you’d like to join us and hear about new resources and developments in this area, please leave us your details and we’ll be in touch.

For now we’ll leave you with some thoughts on why open access to humanities and social science scholarship matters:

“Open access is important because it can give power and resources back to academics and universities; because it rightly makes research more widely and publicly available; and because, like it or not, it’s beginning and this is our brief chance to shape its future so that it benefits all of us in the humanities and social sciences” – Robert Eaglestone, Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought, Royal Holloway, University of London.

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“For scholars, open access is the most important movement of our times. It offers an unprecedented opportunity to open up our research to the world, irrespective of readers’ geographical, institutional or financial limitations. We cannot falter in pursuing a fair academic landscape that facilitates such a shift, without transferring prohibitive costs onto scholars themselves in order to maintain unsustainable levels of profit for some parts of the commercial publishing industry.” Dr Caroline Edwards, Lecturer in Modern & Contemporary Literature, Birkbeck, University of London and Co-Founder of the Open Library of Humanities

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“If you write to be read, to encourage critical thinking and to educate, then why wouldn’t you disseminate your work as far as possible? Open access is the answer.” – Martin Eve, Co-Founder of the Open Library of Humanities and Lecturer, University of Lincoln.

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“Our open access monograph The History Manifesto argues for breaking down the barriers between academics and wider publics: open-access publication achieved that. The impact was immediate, global and uniquely gratifying–a chance to inject ideas straight into the bloodstream of civic discussion around the world. Kudos to Cambridge University Press for supporting innovation!” — David Armitage, Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Harvard University and co-author of The History Manifesto

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“Technology allows for efficient worldwide dissemination of research and scholarship. But closed distribution models can get in the way. Open access helps to fulfill the promise of the digital age. It benefits the public by making knowledge freely available to everyone, not hidden behind paywalls. It also benefits authors by maximizing the impact and dissemination of their work.” – Jennifer Jenkins, Senior Lecturing Fellow and Director, Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Duke University

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“Unhappy with your current democracy providers? Work for political and institutional change by making your research open access and joining the struggle for the democratization of democracy” – Gary Hall, co-founder of Open Humanities Press and Professor of Media and Performing Arts, Coventry University

Celebrating Open Access Week by highlighting community projects!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Open Data Index: Week 13 -17 October

Mor Rubinstein - October 17, 2014 in Global Open Data Index

Skærmbillede 2014-10-17 kl. 12.02.12

This is your week-by-week update of progress on the Global Open Data Index 2014. You can check for the most recent country submissions here. We’re now welcoming your participation in sprints across all countries for the month of October, concluding with a ‘Global Madness’ sprint on 30 October.

We’re making great progress – thank you so much for participating.

We are looking for help with these countries – can you help?

Armenia, Australia, New Zealand, Croatia, Estonia, Botswana, Haiti Honduras, Japan, South Korea, Lithuania, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Tajikistan

Feel free to send in your tips, contacts, organisations for these countries that we can contact to Mor.Robinstein (a) okfn (dot) org

Next week (week beginning 20 October): Mor Rubinstein, Community Coordinator for the Global Open Data Index is offering office hours in regional time zones where she is available to answer your questions and talk you through how to contribute to the Index.

Office hours

  • Monday 20 Oct – 13:00-15:00 GMT / 15:00–19:00 CEST/ 16:00–20:00 EEST
  • Tuesday 21 Oct – 15:00-19:00 GMT / 10:00–14:00 EST
  • Wednesday 22 Oct – 8:00-12:00 GMT / 16:00–20:00 CST / 17:00–21:00 JST / 13:30–17:30 IST
  • Friday 23 Oct – 10:00-15:00 GMT / 12:00–17:00 EAT

Skype – mor.rubinstein , IRC : #OKFN irc.freenode.net, Twitter #openindex14

Joint Submission to UN Data Revolution Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Make data open by default

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

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

2. Put accountability at the core of the data revolution

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

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

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

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

 3. Provide no-cost access to government data

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

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

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

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

4. Put the users first

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

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

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

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

5. Invest in capacity

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

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

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

6. Improve the quality of official data

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

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

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

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

7. Foster more accountable, transparent and participatory governance

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

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

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


Colophon

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

The full text of the Declaration can be found here:

http://globalopendatainitiative.org/declaration/

Open Humanities Hack: 28 November 2014, London

Lieke Ploeger - October 10, 2014 in Events, Meetups, Open Humanities

This is a cross-post from the DM2E-blog, see the original here

On Friday 28 November 2014 the second Open Humanities Hack event will take place at King’s College, London. This is the second in a series of events organised jointly by the King’s College London Department of Digital Humanities , the Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana (DM2E) project, the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Open Humanities Working Group

Humanities-WG The event is focused on digital humanists and intended to target research-driven experimentation with existing humanities data sets. One of the most exciting recent developments in digital humanities include the investigation and analysis of complex data sets that require the close collaboration between Humanities and computing researchers. The aim of the hack day is not to produce complete applications but to experiment with methods and technologies to investigate these data sets so that at the end we can have an understanding of the types of novel techniques that are emerging.

Possible themes include but are not limited to

  • Research in textual annotation has been a particular strength of digital humanities. Where are the next frontiers? How can we bring together insights from other fields and digital humanities?

  • How do we provide linking and sharing humanities data that makes sense of its complex structure, with many internal relationships both structural and semantic. In particular, distributed Humanities research data often includes digital material combining objects in multiple media, and in addition there is diversity of standards for describing the data.

  • Visualisation. How do we develop reasonable visualisations that are practical and help build on overall intuition for the underlying humanities data set

  • How can we advance the novel humanities technique of network analysis to describe complex relationships of ‘things’ in social-historical systems: people, places, etc.

With this hack day we seek to form groups of computing and humanities researchers that will work together to come up with small-scale prototypes that showcase new and novel ways of working with humanities data.

Date: Friday 28 November 2014
Time: 9.00 – 21.00
Location: King’s College, Strand, London
Sign up: Attendance is free but places are limited: please fill in the sign-up form to register .

For an impression of the first Humanities Hack event, please check this blog report .

This Index is yours!

Heather Leson - October 9, 2014 in Community, Open Data, Open Data Census, Open Data Census, Open Data Index

How is your country doing with open data? You can make a difference in 5 easy steps to track 10 different datasets. Or, you can help us spread the word on how to contribute to the Open Data Index. This includes the very important translation of some key items into your local language. We’ll keep providing you week-by-week updates on the status of the community-driven project.

We’ve got a demo and some shareable slides to help you on your Index path.

Priority country help wanted

The amazing community provided content for over 70 countries last year. This year we set the bar higher with a goal of 100 countries. If you added details for your country last year, please be sure to add any updates this year. Also, we need some help. Are you from one of these countries? Do you have someone in your network who could potentially help? Please do put them in touch with the index team – index at okfn dot org.

DATASETS WANTED: Armenia, Bolivia, Georgia, Guyana, Haiti, Kosovo, Moldova, Morocco, Nicaragua, Ukraine, and Yemen.

Video: Demo and Tips for contributing to the Open Data Index

This is a 40 minute video with some details all about the Open Data Index, including a demo to show you how to add datasets.

Text: Tutorial on How to help build the Open Data Index

We would encourage you to download this, make changes (add country specific details), translate and share back. Please simply share on the Open Data Census Mailing List or Tweet us @okfn.

Thanks again for sharing widely!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rufus Pollock, President and Founder of Open Knowledge said:

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

What’s New

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

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

More Information

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

Authors

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

Brazilian Government Develops Toolkit to Guide Institutions in both Planning and Carrying Out Open Data Initatives

Guest - October 7, 2014 in Open Data, Open Government Data

This is a guest post by Nitai Silva of the Brazilian government’s open data team and was originally published on the Open Knowledge Brazil blog here.

Recently Brazilian government released the Kit de Dados Abertos (open data toolkit). The toolkit is made up of documents describing the process, methods and techniques for implementing an open data policy within an institution. Its goal is to both demystify the logic of opening up data and to share with public employees observed best practices that have emerged from a number of Brazilian government initiatives.

The toolkit focuses on the Plano de Dados Abertos – PDA (Open Data Plan) as the guiding instrument where commitments, agenda and policy implementation cycles in the institution are registered. We believe that making each public agency build it’s own PDA is a way to perpetuate the open data policy, making it a state policy and not just a transitory governmental action.

It is organized to facilitate the implementation of the main activities cycles that must be observed in an institution and provides links and manuals to assist in these activities. Emphasis is given to the actors/roles involved in each step and their responsibilities. It also helps to define a central person to monitor and maintain the PDA. The following diagram summarizes the macro steps of implementing an open data policy in an institution:

 

Processo Sistêmico de um PDA

 

Open data theme has been part of the Brazilian government’s agenda for over three years. Over this period, we have accomplished a number of important achievement including passing the Lei de Acesso à Informação – LAI (FOIA) (Access to Information Law), making commitments as part of our Open Government Partnership Action Plan and developing the Infraestrutura Nacional de Dados Abertos (INDA) (Open Data National Infrastructure). However, despite these accomplishments, for many public managers, open data activities remain the exclusive responsibility of the Information Technology department of their respective institution. This gap is, in many ways, the cultural heritage of the hierarchical, departmental model of carrying out public policy and is observed in many institutions.

The launch of the toolkit is the first of a series of actions prepared by the Ministry of Planning to leverage open data initiatives in federal agencies, as was defined in the Brazilian commitments in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The next step is to conduct several tailor made workshops designed to support major agencies in the federal government in the implementation of open data.

Despite it having been built with the aim of expanding the quality and quantity of open data made available by the federal executive branch agencies, we also made a conscious effort to make the toolkit generic enough generic enough for other branches and levels of government.

About the toolkit development:

It is also noteworthy to mention that the toolkit was developed on Github. Although the Github is known as an online and distributed environment for develop software, it has already being used for co-creation of text documents for a long time, even by governments. The toolkit is still hosted there, which allows anyone to make changes and propose improvements. The invitation is open, we welcome and encourage your collaboration.

Finally I would like to thank Augusto Herrmann, Christian Miranda, Caroline Burle and Jamila Venturini for participating in the drafting of this post!

Streamlining the Local Groups network structure

Christian Villum - October 3, 2014 in Community, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

We are now a little over a year into the Local Groups scheme that was launched in early 2013. Since then we have been receiving hundreds of applications from great community members wanting to start Local Groups in their countries and become Ambassadors and community leaders. From this great body of amazing talent, Local Groups in over 50 countries have been established and frankly we’ve been overwhelmed with the interest that this program has received!

Over the course of this time we have learned a lot. Not only have we seen that open knowledge first and foremost develops locally and how global peer support is a great driver for making a change in local environments. We’re humbled and proud to be able to help facilitate the great work that is being done in all these countries.

We have also learned, however, of things in the application process and the general network structure that can be approved. After collecting feedback from the community earlier in the year, we learned that the structure of the network and the different labels (Local Group, Ambassador, Initiative and Chapter) were hard to comprehend, and also that the waiting time that applicants wanting to become Ambassadors and starting Local Groups were met with was a little bit frustrating. People applying are eager to get started, and of course having to wait weeks or even longer (because of the number of applications that came in) was obviously a little bit frustrating.

Presenting a more streamlined structure and way of getting involved

We have now thoroughly discussed the feedback with our great Local Groups community and as a result we are excited to present a more streamlined structure and a much easier way of getting involved. The updated structure is written up entirely on the Open Knowledge wiki, and includes the following major headlines:

1. Ambassador and Initiative level merge into “Local Groups”

As mentioned, applying to become an Ambassador and applying to set up an Initiative were the two kinds of entry-level ways to engage; “Ambassador” implying that the applicant was – to begin with – just one person, and “Initiative” being the way for an existing group to join the network. These were then jointly labelled “Local Groups”, which was – admittedly – a lot of labels to describe pretty much the same thing: People wanting to start a Local Group and collaborate. Therefore we are removing the Initiative label all together, and from now everyone will simply apply through one channel to start a Local Group. If you are just one person doing that (even though more people will join later) you are granted the opportunity to take the title of Ambassador. If you are a group applying collectively to start a Local Group, then everyone in that group can choose to take the title of Local Group Lead, which is a more shared way to lead a new group (as compared to an Ambassador). Applying still happens through a webform, which has been revamped to reflect these changes.

2. Local Group applications will be processed twice per year instead of on a rolling basis

All the hundreds of applications that have come in over the last year have been peer-reviewed by a volunteer committee of existing community members (and they have been doing a stellar job!). One of the other major things we’ve learned is the work pressure that the sheer number of applications put on this hard-working group simply wasn’t long term sustainable. That is why that we as of now will replace the rolling basis processing and review of applications in favor of two annual sprints in October and April. This may appear as if waiting time for applicants becomes even longer, but that is not the case! In fact, we are implementing a measure that ensures no waiting at all! Keep reading.

3. Introducing a new easy “get-started-right-away” entry level: “Local Organiser”

This is the new thing we are most excited to introduce! Seeing how setting up a formal Local Group takes time (regardless of how many applications come in), it was clear that we needed a way for people to get involved in the network right away, without having to wait for weeks and weeks on formalities and practicalities. This has lead to the new concept of “Local Organiser”:

Anyone can pick up this title immediately and start to organise Open Knowledge activities locally in their own name, but by calling themselves Local Organiser. This can include organising meetups, contributing on discussion lists, advocating the use of open knowledge, building community and gather more people to join – or any other relevant activity aligned with the values of Open Knowledge.

Local Organisers needs to register by setting up a profile page on the Open Knowledge wiki as well as filling this short form. Shortly thereafter the Local Organiser will then be greeted officially into the community with an email from the Open Knowledge Local Group Team containing a link to the Local Organiser Code of Conduct that the person automatically agrees to adhere to when he/she picks up the title.

Local Organisers use existing, public tools such as Meetup.com, Tumblr, Twitter etc. – but can also request Open Knowledge to set up a public discussion list for their country (if needed – otherwise they can also use other existing public discussion lists). Additionally, they can use the Open Knowledge wiki as a place to put information and organize as needed. Local Organisers are enrouraged to publicly document their activities on their Open Knowledge wiki profile in order to become eligible to apply to start an official Open Knowledge Local Group later down the road.

A rapidly growing global network

What about Chapters you might wonder? Their status remain unchanged and continue to be the expert level entity that Local Groups can apply to become when reaching a certain level of prowess.

All in all it’s fantastic to see how Open Knowledge folks are organising locally in all corners of the world. We look forward to continue supporting you all!

If you have any questions, ideas or comments, feel free to get in touch!

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