[@OKFNau] Announcing Open Knowledge Melbourne

Lachlan Musicman datakid at gmail.com
Sat Nov 29 07:39:47 UTC 2014

Hi All,

I would like to announce the start of a weekly meet up called Open
Knowledge Melbourne. It will be held on Wednesdays, currently we are
planning on it being at ThoughtWorks, from 6pm-available. (Thanks TW!)


In some ways this is an extension or rebirth or rebrand of the
#DataHack meet-up.


1. The annual Hackathons are great events, but my personal experience
was that we were unable to take up available funding to continue the
projects because all participants had full time jobs or were otherwise
engaged. This is a shame and a waste of good ideas and good work.

2. There seems to be uncertainty amongst the (perceived) natural
constituency of IT types as to what a *Hack is.

3. Having now participated in Gov and HealthHack, most noticeable was
the lack of non technical participants - designers and artists amongst
others. In Skud's excellent critique* she also notes parents -
something that we have discussed and are looking into being able to
provide a space, food and care that are appropriate for children.
This, unfortunately, will not be available immediately, but is next on
the radar of "todos".

4. Open Data is new, and it is good. It will become an essential tool
to democratic societies. Used well, we can keep government business
transparent in a time of decreasing investigative journalism, help the
government produce better services and to think outside the box, and
develop a better understanding and language around data, it's uses and
it's limitations.

5. Data is already being used by the Government and Business. It is
important that civil society has access to that data, can have an
authoritative voice in matters of individual privacy. Steve Bennett
has been doing some excellent work to this end, but I fear he is the
only one. His discoveries and networks need to be documented and
worked with further.

6. Most important: If we don't use the data, it will stop coming out.
The data needs to be used more often than annually. You cannot keep
going to the Government and saying "open your data, you never know
what might happen" if nothing ever happens.

7. Data analysis, data set analysis, data visualisation requires a lot
of hard, boring work. Blue collar, dirty hands, mostly boring, work.
The kind of work that is easier in groups, that takes time, effort, as
wide a representation of society as possible.

8. The Open Knowledge movement should be looking to the Free, Libre
and Open Source Software movement as an example - it can be built, it
will be built, and we will build it.

*9. Skud's critique -
- is valuable and well argued. But there is one thing that I take
issue with, and Skud is not alone in making this mistake - we all
have. A *athon *is* like a marathon. We should be running it all year,
not just over a weekend. Marathon runners do not only run one weekend,
one race. They are always preparing for the race. As we should be.

10. There are plenty of projects that could do with some of this type
of love. Here is an incomplete short list:

    a. OpenStreetMap eg, improving via changeset discussions
    b. HipsterMap
    c. All of Stevage's bike maps
    d. the Melbourne LocalWiki project
    e. Wikipedia
    f. City of Melbourne, Victorian and National Government data -> either into
        the above or just generally hacked
    g. Growstuff
    h. ???


This is about Open Knowledge - there is no primacy given to data or
computer scientists.

This is about inclusion and democracy, and we will have to put in
special effort to make sure that all people are welcome and able to
come. Racism, sexism, gender or ability discrimination will be
unwelcome and called out. Processes and services will be put into
place to make sure that under represented groups feel able to attend.
Most importantly outreach and dialogue should be entered into with as
many groups as possible to make sure we do all we can to make the
space as inclusive as possible.

There will be a minimisation of speaker centric presentations. They
will not be unwelcome, but I'm imagining a space where multiple groups
are doing multiple things - some people are learning new software,
others are working on particular projects, others are discussing
results, or discussing the organisation of the night and the work that
is done.

So. That's my proposal. A small amount of discussion has happened
between a handful of people to get to this point. I encourage you to
get involved in any way you feel comfortable - all ideas, advice, and
criticism is welcome.



You have to be really clever to come up with a genuinely dangerous
thought. I am disheartened that people can be clever enough to do that
and not clever enough to do the obvious thing and KEEP THEIR IDIOT
MOUTHS SHUT about it, because it is much more important to sound
intelligent when talking to your friends.
This post was STUPID.
The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time

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