[okfn-advisory] Advising Open Knowledge in 2015

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Wed Jan 28 11:23:10 UTC 2015

I've been on the Advisory Council since OKF started (10+ years). I've been
proud to have this position and have promoted it and the OKF.

The OKF needs an AC. However I have been disappointed that there is no
structure or activity or role for the AC.  It has much in common with
Editorial Boards of journals where often the sole role is to parade the
great-and-good to convince people how wonderful the journal is. When that
happens I (a) create a fuss (b) resign publicly.

The role of the AC is to be proactively asked for advice, and to be
listened to on a very regular basis.  It may also be required to help with
unexpected issues (both positive and negative). Although it may only be
advisory it should be taken seriously.

In my ten years I have only met as advisory council  at OKFests where I
happened to be present. Berlin (which was very good), Helsinki, a dinner
run by Laura at Geneva. But these were random.

Over the last 5 years there has been massive growth in OKF and the council
has not been consulted. I would have regarded the following as mandatory
for a AC:
* change of name and logo. In my view these have been a disaster but I have
not been given the formal chance to comment
* Morris Lipson's report. This is probably the most in-depth assessment of
the OKF (I cannot write OK as it's ridiculous). I was interviewed and felt
it was extremely constructive but have had zero feedback. If there is any
single activity the AC should have been involved in it is helping to plan
the future of OKF. We knew by hearsay that there was a report - that's all,
but that we weren't considered  responsible/useful enough to know anything
about it. Yes it may have had sensitive parts, but we are experienced
people and can deal with such matters.

Effectively - at present - the AC is irrelevant to OKF, except as a list of

So if it is to go forward it has to be rearchitected properly. A bit of
sticking plaster will only lead to the same problems.

***I would suggest that these views go to the Board - as it's their
responsibility for what the AC does or does not get involved in.***

At the very least a new AC would have a timetable, regular formal updates
on what the OKF has done, is doing and wants to do.

I still love OKF and always will and remain part of it...


On Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 9:25 AM, Laura James <lbjames at gmail.com> wrote:

> All,
> I'm delighted to be joining the Advisory Council now that I've finished
> work at Open Knowledge.  The Council (primarily through conversations with
> individual members) was a valuable support whilst I co-led Open Knowledge
> with Rufus, for which many thanks to you all.
> As we start 2015 and what I imagine will be a time of change and evolution
> for the organisation, with a new ED coming in and continuing rapid
> development in the open data sector, I hope the Advisory Council can
> continue to be useful to Open Knowledge's leadership, both reactively and
> proactively.
> *Advisory Council members: *what do you think the Advisory Council and
> Open Knowledge should be doing in 2015? Are there issues or events that we
> should be paying attention to?
> *Rufus:* what do you want and need from the Council this year? How can we
> most effectively help you?
> The Council has, of late, mostly been consulted as individuals and this
> email list has, perhaps, been underused.  Occasionally there's been a
> suggestion of meetings, or a chair. I think it's worth considering how we
> work, perhaps once we have an idea of what we want to do this year :)
> Best regards,
> Laura
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Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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