[open-linguistics] Getting started with the Working Group on Open Data in Linguistics (WG-ODL) and the Open Linguistics mailing list

Cornelius Puschmann cornelius.puschmann at uni-duesseldorf.de
Tue Oct 19 16:19:31 UTC 2010

Dear colleagues,

I want to both welcome the people who have already signed up for this list
and provide some background information on the activities of the Open Data
in Linguistics working group.

The Open Knowledge Foundation (okfn.org) hosts working groups on different
areas of open (as in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_science_data)
information and we (a small but growing group of linguists) thought it would
be great to have such a group in our discipline as well, as linguistics can
doubtlessly benefit significantly from adopting Open Data practices. This
morning Jonathan Gray (Open Knowledge Foundation Community Coordinator),
Sebastian Hellmann (University of Leipzig) and Christian Chiarcos
(University of Potsdam) and myself discussed the mission, organization and
next steps of the Working Group on Open Data in Linguistics (WG-ODL) in a
Skype conference call.

A very general sketch of the goals of the group is available on the group's
wiki page at http://wiki.okfn.org/wg/linguistics. We have the following

1. Promote the idea (and definition, as specified in
http://www.opendefinition.org/) of open data in linguistics and in relation
to language data.
2. Act as a point of reference and support for people interested in open
linguistic data.
3. Provide guidance on legal issues surrounding linguistic data to the
4. Build an index of indexes of open linguistic data sources and tools and
link existing resources.
5. Facilitate communication between existing groups and organizations
working with language data.
6. Serve as a mediator between providers and users of of technical
7. Assemble best-practice guidelines / use cases to create, use and
distribute data.

Of course these goals will be further specified in the future as (hopefully)
more people get involved. As you may notice when examining the objectives,
we don't see WG-ODL as a technical standards body or service provider, since
there are already groups and organizations doing both of these things.
Instead providing information (e.g. about licensing), indexing resources and
discussing best practices will be our focus (Christian and Sebastian: please
correct me here if I'm not getting it quite right).

Mailing list and working group
A word on the relationship of the working group and this mailing list: we
hope to establish the Open Linguistics mailing list as a place for news,
information and discussion related to open data in linguistics and related
fields working with language data. The scope of the mailing list is
deliberately broad and explicitly includes anyone with an interest in the
topic. We encourage both active participation and "lurking" in the sense of
using the list purely as a source of information for things relevant to the
community (projects, resources, events, funding opportunities...). Anyone
can join the list and post to it, on the condition that posts are relevant
to open data in linguistics in some way. While we want to list to stay
generally on topic, we see little danger of there being too much discussion
at this point (and after all, messages from lists can be filtered). Formal
membership in the working group (which is still in the process of assembling
itself) will be somewhat more restrictive in the sense that it will be
limited to people in the field who are ready to participate actively in
pursuing the goals of the group.

Signing up for the mailing list is possible at

Please pass this on to anyone potentially interested in the subject. Thanks
for joining the Open Linguistics list -- we're looking forward to hearing
from you!

Best regards,

Dr. Cornelius Puschmann

Department for English Language and Linguistics
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Building 23.11, Level 1, Room 21
Universitätsstrasse 1
40225 Düsseldorf
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