[okfn-advisory] Open Knowledge brand and website

Laura James laura.james at okfn.org
Fri May 9 10:30:18 UTC 2014


You raise a lot of very good points and you are right that this is quite a
pivotal time as the field of open knowledge, the community, and central are
all growing and also subject to new challenges and opportunities.

I do hope you - and others here - will be able to join us at the Community
Session on July 15th at OKFestival - I think that will be a useful forum
for some of these conversations, although I think there will be some work
to do in the interim too :)   The questions of strategy, how we make the
most of what we have to achieve the impact we want, especially within an
international and rapidly-changing landscape, are always being thought
about. We have good challenges :)

You are undoubtedly right we should talk with the AC more, and probably a
good starting point is to set out some of the questions and tensions as we
see them, so we can then discuss - either as a group on list or maybe in
one-to-one calls. I'm aware scheduling this group for a meeting is likely
almost impossible - although OKFestival is a good opportunity, and perhaps
we should run a doodle as to a time before/after the main event for an AC
meeting? Other ideas for how to connect this group most welcome :)

On some related questions - such as how Open Knowledge is funded (if at
all!) (both at central and local groups etc) we've been having really
useful conversations exploring options here in the last couple of months on
list and in recent calls. I know quite a few of the local groups folks are
also here on the Council, now, but perhaps it's useful to loop in the wider
council in general too. (More info
probably worth a separate thread for discussion)

The question of whether or not we are an advocacy organisation and how much
we engage in policy work is a really interesting one and I've been thinking
a lot about it in the last couple of weeks. It's not an angle i know much
about and I can imagine arguments both for and against :) it's also a
question where the answers may be different for local groups, working
groups, and 'central' so there's various nuances.

Finally, I'm really sorry to hear about the Panton board not being
consulted around the funding proposal and I will be following up on that
with those who were involved in the bid. I should say that it is just a
proposal at this stage and so I imagine there may be scope for change in
some ways - at least the fellowship naming - if desired, assuming the
proposal is accepted.

Best regards,


On 9 May 2014 08:15, Peter Murray-Rust <pm286 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:

> 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.
> P.
> 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
> CB2 1EW, UK
> +44-1223-763069


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