[okfn-discuss] Open Knowledge Festival update

Pieter-Jan Pauwels pieter-jan.pauwels at okfn.org
Wed Feb 4 15:33:22 UTC 2015

Hello Naomi, 

Too bad about not having OKFest this year, but I can image that for certain local groups this is not an easy task to get to a international event in Europe. I have 2 things on my mind:

1. Federated conference model: 
Maybe it would be cool to have a federated gathering/conference model: - national events by the local groups - continental meetups by "???" (local group collectives?) and international gatherings by OKI? And each year on of the continental conferences is linked to an international one as well where the local group collective works with OKI regarding organisation.  Which would mean neighbouring local groups need to work closely together and it gives OKI the chance to get in touch on a practical level with several local groups each year.

2. Regarding support of the international network: 
I hear you saying that you want to focus on community / communication work in order to support local groups/chapters to organise local events. Are there other means that OKI would support these events? 

I’m not just talking about monetary funding, but also about practical support (eg. developing a branded websitetemplate for OKCons, a ticketing system with a PSP, project management tools, general event management tools, session proposal forms etc…) and workshops (101 on event management, ticketing, promotion and communication, formats (unconferences, interactive workshops) fundraising and writing partner proposals, and more… maybe even in an Open Data Event handbook format. :)

Those tools and best practices are being used by OKI and/or local chapters, so maybe we can streamline this and make it as easy as possible for other local groups to setup events and focus on the content and the community, rather than finding ways to cope with all the organisational work. 

This can either be by developing certain tools in-house (maybe Open Source and share the knowledge), or by buying certain proprietary packages under an Enterprise SAAS license deal for all the groups. This would at least mean we have the means to be one step ahead as part of an international network. 

I think knowledge and tool sharing could really bootstrap the community to start their own adventure. I am organising http://2015.openbelgium.be/ <http://2015.openbelgium.be/> as part bringing the policy level together with the industry and the open community, but as somebody who has no background in event management this is a trial and error process, with lots of overtime and inefficient stumbling. 

So that’s my two cents on the matter. 
Feel free to add or comment to this reply. 

Kind regards,
Pieter-Jan Pauwels

Pieter-Jan Pauwels
Community Coordinator, Open Knowledge Belgium
m: +32 476 66 27 77 <tel:+32 476 66 27 77> | e: pieter-jan.pauwels at okfn.org <mailto:pieter-jan.pauwels at okfn.org> | w: okfn.be <http://okfn.be/> 

> On 04 Feb 2015, at 14:06, Naomi Lillie <naomi.lillie at okfn.org> wrote:
> Hello all,
> I have bad news and good news to share:
> The bad news: 
> Open Knowledge will not run a large international event in 2015 (OKFestival or OKConference) - boo! :-(
> The good news: 
> Open Knowledge will be supporting our Local Groups in running events around the world in 2015 and looking to hold future large international events outside of Europe - yay! :-)
> Why isn’t Open Knowledge running an OKFestival in 2015?
> I’m very sorry for the disappointment I know this will cause - along with many of you, OKFest 2012 / OKCon 2013 / OKFestival 2014 were the highlights of my years since joining this organisation and network in 2011… But we’ve been thinking hard here at ‘OKI’ (meaning ‘Open Knowledge International’, the informal name for the organisation that supports Local Groups and Working Groups, and the rest of the network) and it really came down to asking ourselves ‘how can we best support our groups around the world?’ 
> Point 1: representing an international network <https://okfn.org/network/>
> Towards the end of last year, Rufus asked the question ‘where should the next OKFestival be held?’ and members of the community on the OKFN-Discuss mailing list <https://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/okfn-discuss> responded, as well as leaders of Working Groups and Local Groups who were specifically invited to share thoughts (see here for the original message <https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-discuss/2014-October/010627.html> and search the archives <https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-discuss/> for responses). A theme appeared in the answers: people don’t want another European event, unless other parts of the world are being seriously considered for future events. That means we can’t go ahead with ‘business as usual’, but need to rethink how we do things for our next event.
> It’s clear that, while the organisation seeks to support a global network of people passionate about open knowledge, historically we haven’t been very good at extending in-person support beyond Europe, despite the growing representation of areas of the globe through Local Groups, projects and staff hires. The School of Data <http://schoolofdata.org/> has been a brilliant flagship for reaching beyond Europe, with Partnership for Open Data <https://okfn.org/projects/partnership-for-open-data/> doing excellent work in broadening awareness and access of work already happening in the Global South, but generally the overall organisation’s efforts in running in-person events have been in Berlin, with the occasional foray into countries such as Switzerland, Finland and the UK (see our events page <https://okfn.org/get-involved/events/> for more information). We want that to change, and are committed to exploring how we can enable that to happen for future events.
> Point 2: supporting the international network <https://okfn.org/network/>
> Open Knowledge has arranged a fair few gatherings over the years, and enjoyed the partnerships with the Finnish and Swiss Chapters in running the 2012 and 2013 events respectively as well as liaising with the German Chapter over several years, but generally there hasn’t been much room for supporting events around the community network beyond some promotion (such as here <http://okfncommunity.tumblr.com/>, here <http://blog.okfn.org/2014/12/10/a-round-up-of-open-knowledge-community-events-around-the-world/> and here <https://twitter.com/okfn>). Here at “OKI” we do our best to empower others to lead, and it’s pretty hard to lead when someone else takes all the attention! So, rather than effectively asking our Local Groups and Working Groups to compete with us if they want their own events (going up against Open Knowledge the organisation for scheduling, attendees and sponsorship), we want to step aside and encourage others to facilitate significant events that attract people from around the world to attend where they are located. 
> Furthermore, this organisation has its own agenda, goals, strategy and vision - it clearly won’t be exactly the same as groups in the Africa, the Americas, Antarctica, Asia, Australia and indeed the rest of Europe! Open Knowledge “International” doesn’t claim to represent the UK, we just happen to be (mostly) UK-based; however we recognise that being primarily in the UK brings bias and assumptions, and we need the network’s help to ensure other agendas and priorities are given centre-stage. Moving to the side-lines, to allow others to step in with their plans, is the right thing for this time - and, very excitingly, other groups are already starting to do just that.
> Summary:
> While the organisation bounces enthusiastically from one big international event in one year to the next, we haven’t stopped to address how better to reflect our growing global network. We’d like to do that - but that means putting other things to one side; that is why we’re not running a big flagship event this year. We’re stopping, breathing, surveying the scenery and thinking about what Open Knowledge should be representing through its events and in-person hands-on activities. We’re already in touch with some of our amazing Local Groups, thinking about how they want to convene the network in areas local to them, and looking to see how we can best support from afar rather than assuming control. At present we’re considering our options in terms of how to investigate support structures for the Local Groups and opportunities for outside Europe in 2016 - be assured we'll be asking you all for your input. 
> We’re excited about what the year ahead will bring!
> What events can we look forward to instead?
> Open Knowledge continues to support events throughout the Open movement, both remote (such as Open Data Day <http://opendataday.org/>) and in person, and are excited to be looking into supporting events from around the Open Knowledge community network in 2015. Various projects have geographic focus - such as Partnership for Open Data <https://okfn.org/projects/partnership-for-open-data/>, and FCO Macedonia <http://blog.okfn.org/2014/09/18/launching-a-new-collaboration-in-macedonia-with-metamorphosis-and-the-uk-foreign-commonwealth-office/> - and of course the organisation will support events through the projects’ endeavours in those areas, too. In the meantime, keep an eye on our blog <http://blog.okfn.org/> for announcements, twitter <https://twitter.com/okfn> for updates and the community stories tumblr <http://okfncommunity.tumblr.com/> for local news.
> Any questions?
> Please feel to reply on this thread (as I’m sure many will) or drop me a private message at this email address. I might not have all the answers, but I’ll do my best!
> Note on who I represent in this message: I am writing as Naomi-the-Open-Knowledge-[organisation]-staff-member, using ‘we’ and ‘our’ to mean the organisation rather than the network as a whole, and giving the ‘official line’ rather than reflecting individuals’ opinions (this can get confusing, so I hope that clarifies).
> With thanks for your kind attention over a long email,
> Naomi
> -- 
> Naomi Lillie
> Network Director  
> skype: n.lillie  |  @naomilillie <https://twitter.com/NaomiLillie>
> Open Knowledge <http://okfn.org/>    -    See how data can change the world
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