Open Knowledge Foundation Newsletter No. 12
Welcome to the twelfth Open Knowledge Foundation newsletter!
- New report on sharing aid information is now open for comments
- Open Data and the Semantic Web Workshop, London, 13th November 2009
- Beta release of Weaving History
- Opening up government data – give it to us raw, give it to us now!
- Open data session at Repository Fringe 2009
- New release of CKAN, a registry for open data
- Postboxes, plaques and transport stops: more open data in the UK
- Opengov.se – a registry of open government data in Sweden
- Fields of Gold: short film about open data on EU farm subsidies
- Open dictionary databases: an overview
- Swedish translation of the Open Knowledge Definition (OKD)
- Other news in brief
- Thanks to our volunteers!
- Support the Open Knowledge Foundation
- Further information
NEW REPORT ON SHARING AID INFORMATION IS NOW OPEN FOR COMMENTS
Earlier this month we announced the publication of a new report: “Unlocking the potential of aid information”. The report, by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Aidinfo, looks at how to make information related to international development (i) legally open, (ii) technically open and (iii) easy to find. It aims to inform the development of a new platform for publishing and sharing aid information.
We are now welcoming comments on the report until Sunday 1st November 2009. The report and relevant background information can be found at:
Back in July 2009, we launched a new working group and a discussion
list on open knowledge for international development.
OPEN DATA AND THE SEMANTIC WEB WORKSHOP, LONDON, 13TH NOVEMBER 2009
Semantic web technologists and advocates are increasingly beginning to see the value of ‘open data’ for the data web. Tim Berners-Lee has spoken about the importance of open data, and being able to access raw data in easy to use formats, and the Linking Open Data project demonstrates what can be done by linking together a rich variety of publicly re-usable datasets.
We’re currently organising a informal, hands-on workshop on ‘open data
and the semantic web’ in London this autumn which will bring together
researchers, technologists, and people interested in open data and the
semantic web from both public and private sector organisations for a
day of talks and discussions. Details are as follows:
- When: Friday 13th November 2009, 1000-1800
- Where: London Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald Street, London, WC1N 3QS.
- Wiki: http://wiki.okfn.org/SemanticWeb
- Participation: Attendance is free. If you are planning to come
along please add your name to the wiki.
The workshop is kindly sponsored by Talis, and space is provided by
the London Knowledge Lab.
BETA RELEASE OF WEAVING HISTORY
In July we released the first public beta of Weaving History. Weaving
History lets you create ‘factlets‘, containing basic information about
historical events, persons, and so on, which you can string together
to create historical ‘threads‘. These threads can then be visually
represented on maps and timelines.
Each factlet can be used in a multiplicity of different threads. For
example, a factlet giving the birth and death dates for Leonardo Da
Vinci might be included in a thread on renaissance painting, a thread
on the history of famous inventors and a thread on the history of
OPENING UP GOVERNMENT DATA – GIVE IT TO US RAW, GIVE IT TO US NOW!
Rufus Pollock, Director of the Open Knowledge Foundation, spoke at
OpenTech 2009 in July as part of a session with Richard Stirling of
the Cabinet Office and John Sheridan of the Office of Public Sector
His talk, titled “Opening Up Government Data: Give it to Us Raw, Give
it to Us Now”, gave a blueprint for how to open up government data.
Slides and audio from the session are linked to from the blog post.
OPEN DATA SESSION AT REPOSITORY FRINGE 2009
In July, Open Knowledge Foundation board members Jordan Hatcher and Jo Walsh gave a tutorial on open data at the Repository Fringe 2009 in Edinburgh.
Jo gave an overview of the Open Knowledge Foundation – in particular
focusing on open knowledge development and componentization, as well as CKAN, KnowledgeForge and the Open Knowledge Definition.
Jordan spoke about legal aspects of open data, giving an overview of
legal tools for making data open – such as the PDDL and ODbL of the
Open Data Commons project.
NEW RELEASE OF CKAN, A REGISTRY FOR OPEN DATA
CKAN version 0.9 was released in August. CKAN is the Comprehensive
Knowledge Archive Network, a registry of open knowledge packages and projects.
Changes included a new bookmarklet to make it easy to add packages,
listing new and recently updated packages on the front page, as well
as general usability improvements, bug fixes and so on.
There are now over 590 packages in the registry – which means that on average we’ve been adding a package a day since version 0.8 was
released in May!
POSTBOXES, PLAQUES AND TRANSPORT STOPS: MORE OPEN DATA IN THE UK
There has been a spate of new open data in the UK in the past few
months, including datasets containing:
- the locations and collection times of over 116,000 postboxes;
- the locations of over 350,000 public transport access points;
- the locations of over 1700 plaques commemorating heritage sites.
OPENGOV.SE – A REGISTRY OF OPEN GOVERNMENT DATA IN SWEDEN
Opengov.se is a registry of open government data in Sweden. It makes a note of what percentage of the datasets are fully open – i.e. material
that is free for anyone to re-use and re-distribute without
restriction, and that is in an open format. This is currently at 16%,
or 5 out of a total of 30 datasets. The open datasets can be viewed at:
The site has received favourable press coverage in Sweden, and has
been feature on Swedish national television and in a national newspaper. Peter Kranz, who runs the site, has been contacted by both civil servants that want help with open data plans and politicians that want advice on how legislation should change to increase the amount of open government data.
FIELDS OF GOLD: SHORT FILM ABOUT OPEN DATA ON EU FARM SUBSIDIES
Farm Subsidy have just released a short film called Fields of Gold:
Lifting the Veil on Europe’s Farm Subsidies.
The film tells the story of a campaign to open up data about where
money from the Common Agricultural Policy goes – from national
Freedom of Information requests from the likes of Jack Thurston
and Nils Mulvad, to the construction of FarmSubsidy.org, a website
which hosts cleaned up and aggregated European CAP data. It looks
at the history of European farming policies, as well as news
headlines resulting from the disclosure of where money goes –
putting the data into context.
The film discusses the value and importance of making data open.
Journalist Brigitte Alfter argues that the public have a right to
know where public funds are spent. European policy analyst David
Osimo talks about how making data open allows it to be aggregated,
analysed and visualised by third parties – which can facilitate
richer and more meaningful exploration. Finally the film alludes
to Siim Kallas’s broader drive towards transparency in European
institutions, and talks about how Farm Subsidy paves the way for
more open access to official European datasets.
OPEN DICTIONARY DATABASES: AN OVERVIEW
Open dictionaries are excellent examples of open knowledge projects.
Whether monolingual or bilingual, and whether dealing with
definitions, etymology, translation or pronounciation – they can
often be large, collaborative undertakings.
Dictionary databases have a wide variety of potential applications –
from education and research to machine translation and integration
with software applications and services.
We’ve started listing several open dictionary projects and packages
on CKAN at:
If you know of any other open dictionary projects – we’d love to
hear about them!
SWEDISH TRANSLATION OF THE OPEN KNOWLEDGE DEFINITION (OKD)
We’ve just added a Swedish translation of the Open Knowledge
Definition (OKD) thanks to Peter Krantz and Staffan Malmgren.
If you’d like to translate the Definition into another language,
or if you’ve already done so, please get in touch!
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
- Discovering Where My Money Goes I: PESA
- Abusing “Open”: Macmillan’s Open Dictionary
- New Open Knowledge Local Group at the University of Houston
- Open licensing for philanthropic foundations – “Why not?”
- What do you think about open government data in Australia?
- New report published: The Socioeconomic Effects of Public Sector
Information on Digital Networks
- Opening up local government data?
- New business models for subscription services?
- What features should be included in a catalogue of open government data?
- Postmaster General Ernest Marples’ Postcode Lookup API
- 2nd Communia Workshop, Torino
THANKS TO OKF VOLUNTEERS!
As usual, a big thank you to our volunteers and to our extended
virtual community for all of their valuable input!
SUPPORT THE OPEN KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION
A donation to the Open Knowledge Foundation would greatly help us with
our overhead costs, including hosting (currently around £1000/year) and
project development. To find out more about supporting our work, please
If you would like to know more about what we are up to, please take a
look at our active projects page.
If you are interested in participating in any of the OKF’s projects,
please see our participate page, or join the OKF discuss list.
For further news and comments, see our blog:
You can follow us on Identi.ca or Twitter at:
The Open Knowledge Foundation is a not-for-profit organization. It is
incorporated in the United Kingdom as a company limited by guarantee
with company number 5133759. The registered office is 37 Panton Street, Cambridge, CB2 1HL, UK.
Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.