[OKFN-AU] Fwd: Happy 9th Birthday to the Open Knowledge Foundation!
David F. Flanders
david.flanders at ands.org.au
Thu May 30 07:25:54 UTC 2013
I'm pleased to announce that Dr. Rufus Pollock (founder of OKFN) will be
visiting Australia in July. Further details to follow including public
lectures in Melbourne, Sydney and a parliamentary lecture in Canberra. See
the OKFN Australasia blog for further announcements:
*Happy 9th Birthday to the Open Knowledge Foundation!*
*blog.okfn.org | May 20th 2013*
*If you’d like to give the Open Knowledge Foundation a birthday gift,
please consider making a regular or one-off donation to support our work
opening up knowledge around the world!*
Nine years ago today the Open Knowledge Foundation was born. We’ve come a
long way from our humble beginnings in Cambridge in 2004.
>From government to science to culture, *open knowledge is now on its way to
being established as an essential part of our information environment*.
Governments around the world are now putting open data at the heart of
their transparency plans. Major publishers and research funding bodies are
supporting and mandating open access to research publications and data.
Leading cultural institutions and cultural portals are opening up their
And there are now more projects, initiatives and organisations than ever
before dedicated to using open knowledge to improve the world – from civic
hacking to citizen science, from data journalism to the digital humanities.
But we still have our work cut out for us: *much essential information
about the world is still locked up or gathering dust*, and *much remains to
be done if we are to put this information to work to improve the world*.
To mark the occasion of us entering our tenth year, we’re going to have a
quick look at where we’ve come from, and some of our hopes for the future.
*Where we’ve come from*
Many of the Foundation’s earliest projects, principles, activities and
aspirations are still with us today.
*The Open Definition – our foundational text*
The Open Definition – which sets out principles that define “openness” in
relation to data and content – was one of the first projects that we
launched, and it still underpins everything we do.
*The world’s biggest open knowledge events*
Early on we still ran our big annual open knowledge events, like the ones
we run today. Writer and open source advocate Glyn Moody (who now sits on
our Advisory Board) wrote of our first edition of the Open Knowledge
Conference (OKCon), Open Knowledge 1.0 in London:
The location was atmospheric: next to Hawksmoor’s amazing St Anne’s church,
which somehow manages the trick of looking bigger than its physical size,
inside the old Limehouse Town Hall.
The latter had a wonderfully run-down, almost Dickensian feel to it; it
seemed rather appropriate as a gathering place for a ragtag bunch of
ne’er-do-wells: geeks, wonks, journos, activists and academics, all with
dangerously powerful ideas on their minds, and all more dangerously
powerful for coming together in this way.
Our 2010 and 2011 Open Government Data Camp events helped to transform a
loose knit group of public servants, hackers and advocates into a
coordinated force for open data around the world. Last year saw over 1000
people gather in Helsinki for OKFestival 2012, which was the biggest open
knowledge event to date. This year, OKCon 2013 in Geneva will convene
governments and civil society representatives from dozens of countries to
figure out how to support the growth of open knowledge internationally.
*‘Raw data now’*
OKF Founder Rufus Pollock’s 2007 call to ‘Give Us the Data Raw, and Give it
to Us Now’ was adopted and popularised by web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee
in a 2009 TED talk. This became one of the rallying calls of the open data
movement around the world, and was widely covered up in the media (for
example, see articles in the BBC, the Guardian, or Wired).
*Following the money*
A prototype of our Where Does My Money Go? project – which shows how UK
public funds are spent – was featured on the front page of the BBC News.
The Open Knowledge Foundation went on to play a leading role in securing
the release of the COINS and £25k spending data, which are amongst the most
detailed spending databases ever released by any government. Our Open
Spending project now has over 13 million transactions, covering over 50
countries and over 80 cities and regions around the world – from Belgium to
Bosnia, Portugal to Puerto Rico.
*Open source tools for open data*
CKAN, our open source data platform, was one of our earliest software
projects. It is now being used by governments and organisations around the
world, and last week saw a major new release.
>From our earliest years, the Open Knowledge Foundation has attracted
developers who want to work on open knowledge projects. Our OKF Labs
continue to provide a place where like-minded hackers who want to develop
and use open source tools for open knowledge can collaborate.
*Empowering people to use data to change the world*
Over the past few years, we haven’t just been working to open up the
world’s knowledge: we have also helped more people than ever to use, share
and benefit from it.
Our School of Data project works to help journalists and civil society
organisations use data to improve their research and reportage. The Data
Journalism Handbook, a free book that we created with the European
Journalism Centre, shows journalists how to use data to improve the news
and is now being translated into many different languages including Arabic,
Chinese, French, Spanish, and Russian.
*Opening up our culture*
We have long been interested in the digital public domain and the cultural
commons – from our early attempts to build a global registry of public
domain works, to trying to model copyright law in countries around the
world to determine which works are in the public domain.
The Public Domain Review started life as a relatively modest project to
highlight interesting public domain works and to raise awareness of
importance of having an open cultural commons. In the past few years it has
received extensive praise from some of the world’s most prestigious
literary publications, and has a dedicated base of regular readers which is
just about to hit 10,000.
Our OpenGLAM initiative continues to liase with cultural institutions
around the world to encourage them to open up their holdings – and to
support people who are trying to create useful things using open cultural
material, through initiatives such as the Open Humanities Awards.
*Where we’re going*
Since 2004, we’ve become a truly international organisation. We’ve gone
from being a handful of like-minded advocates – mainly based in the UK and
Europe – to becoming a global network, spanning countries and cities across
We want to continue to expand and empower this network, to open up
essential information about things that matter – from carbon emissions to
clinical trials to our cultural past. We want to catalyse and support
projects which use open knowledge to change the world for the better,
whether through greater accountability, more successful data driven
investigative journalism projects, or more collaborative scientific
We’re looking forward to many more years of open knowledge, and we have
some really exciting plans for our tenth year and beyond. We hope you’ll
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