Open Knowledge Forum on Civic Information: Tomorrow Night at UCL in London

As announced previously, in association with the UCL department of Computer Science, we’re running an Open Knowledge Forum on Civic Information tomorrow night at UCL in London. There’s still some space left in the Sir David Davies lecture theatre so it’s not too late to register. Speakers John Sheridan, Head of e-Services at the Office […]

INSPIRE: Where Next?

The OKF has been very actively involved in the publicgeodata’s campaign on the INSPIRE directive. Now that it appears compromise between all of the parties — the European Commission, Council and Parliament — has been reached it is natural to ask ourselves both: Where next? and How did we do? Where Next The immediate point […]

Future of Copyright Roundtable at Birkbeck

On the 19th and 20th of last month I attended a roundtable organised by the AHRC Copyright Research Network and the Public Programmes Department of Tate Modern under the grand title “Future of Copyright and the Regulation of Creative Practice”. Of the approximately 20 participants there was a fairly even mix of artists, academics and […]

Open Knowledge Drives Out Closed (in the Long Run)

After Gresham’s Bad money drives out good though with opposite sense. Open knowledge here is taken as given by the open knowledge definition and, in its essentials, means the knoweldge (data/content/…) must be freely accessible, reusable and redistributable. Closed by contrast means knowledge for which access and reuse are restricted in some manner, for example […]

Switch from Kid to Genshi for templating in the Web Interface

Today we made the switch from kid to genshi as our templating toolkit in the web interface. Kid has served us well but there are some issues with debugging and including input that can’t be guaranteed to be well-formed. Genshi, as a direct derivative of Kid, delivers very similar syntax but is both simpler and […]

Open Knowledge Forum on Civic Information No. 2

Organised by the Open Knowledge Foundation in association with the UCL faculty of Computer Science (Ian Brown) Web page: Speakers John Sheridan, Head of e-Services at the Office of Public Sector Information Heather Brooke of Your Right to Know Julian Todd of on “Other publicwhip-type projects I’d like to see and why” Richard […]

Does an ‘open’ scan of a shakespeare folio exist?

We’d really like to have some nice images of a shakespeare first folio (if possible from Hamlet) for use in the Open Shakespeare project. However all the scanned copies we’ve managed to find seem to be under full ‘all rights reserved’ copyright. For example there’s an online version from the Schoenberg Schoenberg Center for Electronic […]

v0.3 of Open Shakespeare Released

We’ve been doing quite a bit of work on the Open Shakespeare project (which we’ve mentioned before). Given that a brief search on the net turns up many sites about Shakespeare and lots of online copies of shakespeare’s texts you might be forgiven for asking why do we need another shakespeare project? In the new […]

Peter Suber and Benjamin Mako Hill Join the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Advisory Board

The Open Knowledge Foundation is delighted to announce that Peter Suber and Benjamin Mako Hill have agreed to join the Foundation’s Advisory Board. Professor Suber is a Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College, Senior Researcher at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Open Access Project Director at Public Knowledge. One […]

British Academy Report: Copyright and research in the humanities and social sciences

The British Academy has just published its report on Copyright and research in the humanities and social sciences. They find a variety of problems (detailed below) and also provide an extensive set of recommendations (see the executive summary): The findings of the Review Copyright law generally provides exemptions for fair dealing for private study and […]

Version 1.0 of the Open Knowledge Definition Released

The Open Knowledge Definition (OKD) provides an answer to the question: what is open knowledge? It puts forward, in a simple and clear manner, principles that define open knowledge and which open knowledge licenses should satisfy. After various improvements and lots of feedback over the last year to the initial draft, version 1.0 of the […]

Open APIs Don’t Equal Open Knowledge

Kragen Sitaker recently posted an essay about the equivalent of free software for online services. Kragen is always interesting and this is no exception. He points out that the movement to use online services rather than local applications greatly increases the possibility for vendor lock-in. This is Microsoft Office on steroids and I’d guesstimate that […]

Dead knowledge: why being explicit about openness matters

When I think of the amount of knowledge that is ‘dead’ because of a lack of explicitness about its ‘openness’ I am always surprised by the number of examples. Consider the following two: Example 1: Everything2 and h2g2 Years ago, back when I was at university I remember stumbling across <>. Shortly thereafter I remember […]

DfT Workshop to Discuss Data Mashup Lab: Summary

These are some highly impressionistic notes taken at a workshop on a cross-gov data mashing lab which took place today at the Royal Society in London organized under the aegis of the Department of Transports[1]. The purpose of the lab would be to develop tools and demonstration projects which would illustrate the possibilities of data […]

Open Shakespeare v0.2

With a little bit of free time over the last couple of weeks I’ve managed to do some more work on open shakespeare. The new version (v0.2dev) is up and running on the site: (formerly NB: concordance only includes sonnets (this is not a necessary restriction but saved on concordance build time). Many […]

The Value of the Public Domain Published

As advertised in a previous post my paper entitled The Value of the Public Domain was published today by the IPPR as a part of a set commissioned for their project on IP and the Public Sphere. You can download the paper from the IPPR website in pdf form via this link: It is […]

IPPR ‘IP and the Public Sphere’ Seminar

On the 14th the IPPR Digital Society and Media team will be publishing a collection of papers as part of their project on intellectual property (IP) and the public sphere. I contributed one of these papers entitled The Value of the Public Domain and will be speaking at the publication event on the 14th of […]

KForge 0.11 Released

The KForge/KnowledgeForge project is one the OKF’s core activities and the KForge software is being used to run both and the administrative backend for the main OKF site: The 0.11 release of KForge introduces a bunch of new features and bugfixes. Full details in this post on the KForge project site.

Public Domain Works Database Project

The Open Knowledge Foundation have been working on a Public Domain Works Database in association with with Free Culture UK (as part of FC-UK’s larger Public Domain Burn project). There is now a front-end site up (as of last weekend!) at: Summary: “The Public Domain Works DB is an [WWW] open registry of artistic […]

Alpha Site Up

As of last weekend there is a alpha version of the registry up at: If all went well Tom Chance demoed this at the iCommons summit in Rio de Janeiro. The database system and its interface is in alpha stage and the site is a prototype designed for testing purposes. In particular: This site […]

The Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World

It took 12 years to produce (1988-2000) and cost 4.5 million dollars (according to its editor Richard Talbert). It has a whole page dedicated to listing donors and supporters of the project. It recruited seventy-three compilers, with ten regional editors with ninety-five reviewers and twenty-two cartographers. It is 148 pp. long and with companion gazetteer […]

Talk at IIC Telecommunications and Media Forum

Two weeks ago I was at the Telecommunications and Media Forum run by the International Institute of Communications in Brussels. The bulk of the panels were concerned with telecommunications issues but I was speaking in their IP session entitled: Striking a Balance in Copyright and Digital Rights: How Can Rights be Protected without Restricting Consumer […]

IIC Telecommunications and Media Forum: Spectrum Policy

One of the good things about going to the IIC forum (see next post for details) was the opportunity to hear the debate on the other, more ‘telcoish’ panels which were extremely interesting — especially those that dealt with spectrum (albeit because it’s an area I don’t know that much about). Listening to the debate […]

Storing and Visualizing Open Data

The basic purpose of the Open Knowledge Foundation is to ‘promote open knowledge’. In particular we want to: Get data out there — that’s why we’re developing KnowledgeForge Make sure that data is open data (i.e. is properly licensed) — that’s why we’re developing open knowledge definition Make sure that data can be found — […]

Composer Data

Many moons ago I came across: Which has lots of data on authors, books and composers (the guy seems to be transcribing a large amount of the US copyright register by hand!). In the light of our work on the db I wrote to the owner of the site at the start of May […]

Open Shakespeare

There are already very impressive examples of open knowledge in the form of projects such as wikipedia, publicwhip, the world-wide molecular matrix etc. However it would be nice to have something a little simpler, some sort of ‘hello world’ type open knowledge project, which would illustrate what we mean by open knowledge and why it […]

Knowledge Packaging (for Content)

Late in the afternoon at the Free Culture UK meetup back in April there was a discussion of the analogy between code and content in relation to open production models. This came up as an aside to the main discussion but it raised some very interesting points directly related to my ongoing consideration of the […]

The Four Principles of (Open) Knowledge Development

[Further discussion and elucidation of the ideas in this piece can be found in the follow-up: What Do We Mean by Componentization (for Knowledge)?] Introduction Open knowledge means porting much more of the open source stack than just the idea of open licensing. It is about porting many of the processes and tools that attach […]

Removing the nc (contd)

Following my recent post about the problems of restrictions on commercial usage as found in Creative Commons ‘nc’ licenses there was a spirited debate on the mailing list. Tom Chance made the important point that for many in existing artistic communities the ‘NC’ restriction represents some kind of ‘ideal social contract’. Below I include the […]

A Sighting of the Database Right

Given my interest in metadata for cultural works when I cam across a copy of Who Wrote What?: A Dictionary of Writers and Their Works (ed. Michael Cox) [OUP 2001] in a secondhand bookshop I was immediately interested. After a quick browse of the data presented I took a look at the ‘restrictions’ information inside […]

Free Culture UK Meetup Report

I attended the Free Culture UK meetup which took place yesterday at Limehouse town hall in London. There were many familiar faces along with several unfamiliar ones including John Buckman. I thought it was a great day: I learnt lots and enjoyed plenty of interesting, and provocative, discussions (at least one of which will find […]

Distributing Data Revisited

A while back there was a thread on okfn-discuss about distributing large amounts of data. So i was interested to run across an article on freshmeat about The Problem With Mirrors. The article itself wasn’t so great but I found the comments informative and noticed that they tended towards a bittorrent type solution that had […]

KForge 0.10 Released

The KForge/KnowledgeForge project is one the OKF’s core activities at present. The KForge software (now with its own site!) has been usable for about six months and stable enough for production use on since the 0.9 release back in December/January. The new 0.10 release of KForge provides a whole bunch of improvements and takes […]

In Brussels for Committee Vote on the INSPIRE Directive

By fortuitous coincidence I was in Brussels earlier this week in the run-up to the ENVI committee vote on the INSPIRE directive. The OKF has been actively supporting the Public Geodata campaign and finding myself with some time spare this seemed to a perfect opportunity to do some last minute contacting of MEPs as well […]

Free Culture UK Meetup

Free Culture UK are having a meetup in London on Saturday the 8th of April. Anyone’s welcome and it should be a fun day so if your saturday’s free why not come along. I’ll definitely be heading down and am looking forward to some joint hacking on the the public domain project that we’ve been […]

Open version of the OED

Jo pointed me at this recent email about progress by Kragen Sitaker on scanning the first edition of the OED (from looking at the front pages it looks like this copy has come from Harvard University library). Currently he’s up to volume 6 (L,M,N) and has also produced a nice web interface to let you […]

Talk at ETech 06

Today Jo and I did our talk at ETech about the experience of helping organize WSFII.London last year and the lessons we learned from it. Here is the slide show (in the s5 format and should work in any standards compliant browser). We presented a half serious, half whimsical set of rules for hacking your […]

At ETech 06

I’m currently in San Diego at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (ETech ’06) courtesy of co-presenting a talk with Jo Walsh entitled Hack Your Own Conference: the World Summit on Free Information Infrastructures. The talk to interest the most so far was by Tim Bray who spoke about the Atom syndication format. Rather than being […]

Open Content Forum

Full details at This forum will focus on ‘open content’, that is works such as books, music, and films which are provided under terms that allow for free access, redistribution and re-use. When: Wednesday 22nd February 2006, 7-9pm Where: Stanhope Centre, Marble Arch, London. Who can attend: public. Registration is optional but useful so […]

WIPO SCCR 2005-11-23: Intervention of the Open Knowledge Foundation

In the interests of brevity Mr Chairman we will limit our comments. The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) is a non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom, which is dedicated to promoting access to knowledge as well as an open approach to knowledge production and reuse. Brazil earlier today mentioned a 3-step test for the public […]

Talk Tonight to Cambridge University Pugwash Society

Tonight I’ll be talking at a joint meeting of the Cambridge University Pugwash Society and Cambridge People and Planet with the title ‘Information wants to be free, but is everywhere in chains’- Fighting for Open Knowledge in an Age of Enclosure. Anyone can come along so if you are in the area do come along […]

Open Knowledge Definition Released

Following extensive discussion of the first draft we are pleased to announce the public release of the Open Knowledge Definition. A space has also been created on wiki for the Definition which anyone may edit and improve.

Open Knowledge Foundation Annual Report Released.

Today the Foundation released its first annual report. Rufus Pollock, Director of the Foundation said: I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made in such a short time. This is an very dynamic area and just in the last year we’ve seen a huge amount of activity and development and we believe that the next […]

Paula Le Dieu Joins Advisory Board

April 20th 2005. The Foundation is delighted to announce that Paula Le Dieu, Director of Creative Commons International has joined the Advisory Board. Her wealth of experience includes leading the BBC’s Creative Archive project and her advice particularly in relation to promoting open approaches to content will be extremely valuable.

The Medical Innovation Convention: A New Global Framework for Healthcare Research and Development

Introduction Funding research and development for new drugs and treatments as well as the transfer of existing knowledge around the globe is essential to improving healthcare in the twenty-first century, especially for those in developing countries. However the current global innovation system for healthcare, heavily based on TRIPs and ever stronger intellectual property rights, is […]

Why the Open Knowledge Foundation

This essay is a first attempt at putting down in hard text a coherent explanation of the reasons for setting up the Open Knowledge Foundation. Undoubtedly this vision will both change and improve with the passage of time. The Open Knowledge Revolution The arrival of pervasive information technology has unleashed a revolution in the realm […]

The Three Meanings of Open

The OKF is the Open Knowledge Foundation. But what does it mean for knowledge to be open? We take open to have three distinct senses: legal, social and technological. Legally Open Knowledge is legally open if it is free of most of the standard legal restrictions and requirements. In particular it should be accessible without […]

Open Knowledge Foundation Launched

May 24th 2004: The Open Knowledge Foundation was launched today with explicit objectives to promote the openness of all forms of knowledge where knowledge is taken to include information, data and all other synonymous terms. In particular To promote freedom of access, creation and dissemination of knowledge. To develop, support and promote projects, communities and […]