[okfn-advisory] Open Knowledge positioning

Laura James lbjames at gmail.com
Sun Feb 22 17:33:31 UTC 2015


Thanks for starting this discussion!

I'm quite torn on this topic, and look forward to hearing what others think.

I agree the various 'digital rights' issues you mention are greatly
important at the present time, and do intersect with Open Knowledge topics.
There would be value in, say, advocacy work combining such issues, which
would help raise the profile of the open knowledge piece with specialist
campaigners in related areas.

However, open knowledge remains a less well known issue than, say,
surveillance, FOSS, and DRM. These other issues take (almost total)
precedence for groups like EDRI, EFF etc, which is fine and understandable;
but there are far fewer (civil society) groups pushing for openness. If we
believe open knowledge matters in and of itself, then this is a message
which needs spreading effectively and clearly. Open data, open access, etc,
remain niche topics, little known or unknown or misunderstood outside their
own communities. The misunderstandings include intentional openwashing,
accidental misuse of the term 'open', and odd interpretations such as 'open
data' being just about government data, or about economic growth.
 Broader understanding of the power and benefits of openness in a civil
society context is essential to achieve our goals, and focussed
communications will help here.

Open Knowledge remains a fairly small organisation, undoubtedly with more
limited resources than would be desirable. Focussing effort on open topics
is likely to achieve better impact than trying to cover many topics with
limited resource (especially as to be effective in each issue requires a
level of up to date knowledge and expertise, which is challenging for a
small team to maintain).

On balance, then, I would look for focus on open knowledge topics day to
day, taking advantage of opportunities with related fields when they arise
and the capacity to do so is available. Longer term, with (anticipated)
greater capacity and with wider comprehension of the basic message of
openness, this could shift to more active engagement with and advocacy of
related digital rights issues.


On 22 February 2015 at 10:47, glyn moody <glyn.moody at gmail.com> wrote:

> During last week's Advisory Council call, one issue that came up was
> to what extent OK should be taking positions and engaging with areas
> that affect its work, but which are not directly part of it.
> For example, currently there are important discussions taking place
> around the world concerning copyright reform, DRM, Net neutrality,
> surveillance, privacy, encryption, open source adoption etc.
> My view is that these are so far-reaching in their impact that it is
> clear their outcome will affect OK in crucial ways.  I therefore
> believe that it is legitimate and even necessary for OK to join the
> debates, rather than to hold back from expressing its views, and to
> risk seeing policies being adopted that are detrimental to OK's aims.
> However, others feel that this kind of engagement is not appropriate
> given the overall mission of OK.
> This is to invite others on this list to give their views on this issue.
> --
> Best wishes
> Glyn
> http://opendotdotdot.blogspot.com
> http://twitter.com/glynmoody
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