Welcome to the seventeenth Open Knowledge Foundation newsletter! For a plain text version for email please see Open Knowledge Foundation Newsletter No. 17 – on our main okfn-announce list.



  • Announcing… The Open Data Challenge!
  • OKCon 2011: Call for Participation
  • New Working Group on Open Economics launches Yourtopia.net
  • GetTheData.org and OpenDataSearch.org
  • Public Domain Day 2011: Launch of the Public Domain Review
  • OKF on the ePSI Platform team
  • Open Bibliographic Data Challenge!
  • Open Shakespeare Annotation Sprint
  • Other News in Brief
  • Thanks to our volunteers!
  • Support the Open Knowledge Foundation
  • Further Information

The Open Knowledge Foundation is a community-driven not-for-profit organisation, and volunteers are behing everything we do. All our services are provided openly and for free: your support can help ensure we can continue and expand our work. To find out more about supporting OKF, visit http://www.okfn.org/support


We’re really excited to announce the launch of the first pan-European Open Data Challenge. It opened on the 5th April, and you’ve got 60 days to submit your entries – with a prize of €20,000 up for grabs! The idea is to encourage people to think of interesting ways of reusing public data for the benefit of European citizens. We want those with programming skills to have a go at building their dream app using public data. But it doesn’t matter if you aren’t a computer geek. There’s a section of the competition called ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if…?’, which allows anyone to submit an idea for how to reuse public data.

To find out more see the blog post about the launch, and check out the website:

Good luck!

##OKCON 2011: 31 JUNE – 1 JULY

OKCon is back! The 6th Annual Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) will take place on 30th June – 1st July 2011 in Berlin. OKCon is a wide-ranging conference that brings together individuals and organizations from across the open knowledge spectrum for two days of presentations, workshops and exchange of ideas. Here’s the conference in a nutshell:

For more info, check out http://okcon.org/2011

See you there!


Our fledgling Working Group on Open Economics have been hard at it, and have already launched a new app which they’ve submitted to the WorldBank Apps competition! It’s called YourTopia, and as well as having a very simple function – to tell you which country is closest to your ideal – the app also has a very serious purpose: to help us develop a real empirical basis for the measures of development that are used to guide policy-making. For more details see:


It’s amazing to see the pace with which more and more data is becoming openly available, and to help everyone navigate the rising tides we’ve launched two new tools. The first, Get The Data, lets you ask and answer data-related questions, like “Where can I find historical weather data?” or “Where can I find a list of airports with their locations?” In the words of the developers, “if you want to GetTheData, but can’t for whatever reason, just ask GetTheData.org”!

The second tool we’ve launched is the site Open Data Search, a new meta search engine for open data. It’s a global version of the publicdata.eu site we announced in the last newsletter – an aggregator for datasets, providing a simple and unified search interface to all of the catalogues contained. We’d love to have your contributions – get in touch with ckan-discuss!


It’s been a great few months for the public domain. January 1st was Public Domain Day, with the works of creators including Leon Trotsky, Walter Benjamin, and Paul Klee entering the public domain. To coincide with Public Domain Day 2011, we launched the Public Domain Review, a a web-based review of works which have entered the public domain. Each week an invited contributor will present an interesting or curious public domain work with a brief accompanying text giving context, commentary and criticism.

This was followed by a workshop in Berlin in January, looking at promoting the public domain. From that workshop we’ve set up two new sites, one with FAQs about OKFs activities in the field, and another which will act as a project page for the development of calculators. Finally, we’ve now created a standalone code library that can be integrated into lots of different software packages and services. Phew!


The Open Bibliographic Data Challenge is up and running! We want to know what you can do with open access to bibliographic data, hear your great ideas and see your prototypes. There are prizes for the best submissions – one developer prize has already been awarded but there are three more up for grabs! Find out more at:


February saw our first ever Open Shakepseare annotation sprint! Participants joined in online and in-person to get the whole of Hamlet annotated in a day, using our new annotator tool. May there be many more!


We’re proud to announce that the Open Knowledge Foundation is part of a new team which will take on the maintenance of ePSIplatform project for the next two years. As many of you will know ePSIplatform is a key resource for people interested in laws, policies and practices related to the reuse of European Public Sector Information (PSI).


  • An challenge has been laid down by OpenCorporates, who are offering bounties for scrapers. Working with ScraperWiki, they’re looking for new screenscrapers to open up company names and numbers, and for each jurisdiction that gets added they’re giving away small bounties. The basic info is on the OKF blog and the full details are on the
    Open Corporates blog.
    Happy scraping!

  • ScraperWiki have been busy. They’ve also been working with Channel 4 News and Dispatches to create visualisations of government assets, as part of the answer to the question “Should Britain flog of the family silver?” Find out more on our blog.

  • Congratulations to our friends over at Publish What You Fund, the global campaign for aid transparency: after two years of negotiations, the 18 donors of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) have agreed the final details of a new global standard for publishing aid information. AidData, an initiative to make information on development aid more transparent and accessible, are planning to make all their respository, covering over 90 donor agencies between 1945 and 2009, available in the new format that the IATI has created by May.

  • We’re excited by the launch of Figshare, a new tool for researchers to share their scientific data, including negative results and unpublished figures. All the data that goes up there will also be available through the new CKAN science group – so get publishing!

  • Probono Publico have announced that the second edition of the Desafío AbreDatos (Open Data Challenge) will take place in Spain on the weekend of May 7th-8th. The contest aims to raise awareness about the potential of Open Data by having teams compete in developing services and applications using public data in only 48 hours. Find out more at http://www.epsiplatform.eu/news/news/desafio_abredatos_spanish_open_data_challenge.

  • It’s fantastic to see Project Gutenberg going from strength to strength, adding their 40,000th free eBook this March. Once you include the eBooks they receive from other producers, this raises the grand total to 100,000!

  • A great public domain project comes from Musikpiraten in Germany: they’ve compiled a songbook of public domain children’s songs, which they’re going to give away to every kindergarten in Germany – over 50,000 of them!

  • Montreal has passed a mandate for an official city working group on open-data. You can see the full mandate here – let’s hope it inspires other cities to do the same!

  • Another city-level challenge is coming from Berlin, where a campaign has been launched to open up Berlin public transport data. Why not write to the BVG or the VBB and tell them you think it’s a good idea!

  • As Wikipedia celebrated its 10th birthday in January, Wikimedia Research Comittee have launched a survey to understand why scientists, academics and other experts do (or do not) contribute to Wikipedia. Find out more, and contribute to the debate, through the OKF blog.


As usual, a big thank you to our volunteers and to our extended virtual community for all of their valuable input! If you’d like to find out about getting more involved with OKF’s work, check out:

We want to help the community share their work with the world! If you’ve got stories to share, email blog[at]okfn[dot]org.


A donation to the Open Knowledge Foundation would greatly help us with our overhead costs, including hosting and project development. To find out more about supporting our work, please visit:


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.

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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.

Compiled by Theodora Middleton, Newsletter Editor – theodora[dot]middleton[at]okfn[dot]org.

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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.