[okfn-advisory] Open Knowledge brand and website

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Fri May 9 07:15:49 UTC 2014

On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 11:36 PM, Rufus Pollock <rufus.pollock at okfn.org>wrote:

> On 8 May 2014 23:18, Peter Murray-Rust <pm286 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:
>> I have already expressed my views that the tag line gives a misleading
>> idea of what the OKF already is and does. I'd prefer a line
> That's exactly why we're asking people for suggestions to improve the
> tagline - Laura's email was precisely about encouraging further
> contribution to discussion on list and on wiki for improvements :-)
> As made clear (I hope) by previous email and this email we have opened
> this up for suggestions and discussion.
>> something like:
>> "A community to make knowledge open and useful"
> This is great Peter - would you like us to add to the wiki.

Thanks, please do - I thought I had already contributed it some weeks ago.

> I would add that it would be worth thinking about how to do more than just
> describe us succinctly - how would we make this into a short call to action
> or compelling t-shirt slogan (which is what we'd also like the tagline to
> do!)
>> I have to say I for one thought (mistakenly perhaps!) that things like
>> logo design, dropping "Foundation" (and even tagline) were fairly minor
>> (and potentially bikesheddable) things compared to the bigger questions
>> which we did consult (e.g. around the strategy or in the community survey
>> whose purpose was, in part, to inform the brand process).
> I think the key point I've taken is that a lot gets read into a tagline,
> including significant stuff about our identity (whether that was intended
> or not!). As I've noted above this is most definitely open for discussion
> and comment so there is most certainly opportunity to determine outcomes
> here :-)
The point is that in a multinational diverse community the purpose of OK/F
has to be  made as clear as possible. This is not easy. We spent time at
Berlin 3 years ago searching for our "institutional DNA" , or "soul".

For many organizations it's relatively easy. OpenStreetMap , Wikipedia
can be explained in 4 words. And even the name by itself is clear. For OK/F
the  task is as hard as the early Christian Church.  We are writing our
creed. Every word matters.  You can show people by action - this is what we
do and how we think - and if you can point to activities that are self
evident then it's easier. If you can't immediately see those - what does
Open Knowledge mean for X? then you need a set of words. Wikipedia has five
pillars - OKF ought to have something similar

For example: "are we an advocacy organisation?" Five years ago I asked you
and you said "absolutely no". Now it seems "absolutely yes". That change
has taken place either by internal drift or management decision. Again it's
never come anywhere near the Advisory Council - and if it was conscious it
should have done.

In a multi-activity multi-interest organization like OKF we are likely to
get continual drift. Core people probably don't notice this. But those not
immediately connected in suddenly find it's a different organisation.

I am concerned that there is central decision making without sufficient
consultation. To give a specific example - Panton Fellowships. I, with
Jonathan Gray , kicked these off 3 years ago by applying to OSF/OSI. We
have an advisory board. Now I gather than an application for renewed
funding has been submitted , with the name Panton removed or at least not
specific, and without any of the Panton Board being aware. I would have
expected that we would have been alerted and - at least slightly - asked
for our feedback. 'm obviously delighted that this is being pursued, but
again - if I have described it correctly - our rols as a Panton Board is
marginalised. Of course I may have got some of this wrong...

Now is the really critical time for OK/F. We have a large staff - very
pleased to see this. But we will increasingly hire staff who aren't
familiar with the OKF DNA. Are we a bottom up  organization where the admin
interprets the sense of the community or a community which fits into the
management structure?

It's at this stage where you/we need the Advisory Council to spot where we
are deliberately and unconsciously heading.


I'm sorry again for the imperfect process and please keep helping us
> improve :-)
> Rufus

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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