[open-science] Open Knowledge Festival 2015 - Location Thoughts

Jenny Molloy jenny.molloy at cantab.net
Tue Oct 14 11:18:11 UTC 2014

Hi All

For those not on the main Open Knowledge list, please see the message from
Rufus below and head on over to  the okfn-discuss list [1] if you'd like to
join the conversation [2].

Open science always puts in a good show at OKFest/OKCon so your thoughts
would be most welcome.


[1] https://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/okfn-discuss
[2] https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-discuss/2014-October/thread.html
Thread: Open Knowledge Festival 2015 - Location Thoughts

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rufus Pollock <rufus.pollock at okfn.org>
Date: Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 12:40 PM
Subject: [okfn-discuss] Open Knowledge Festival 2015 - Location Thoughts
To: okfn-discuss <okfn-discuss at lists.okfn.org>

Hi All,

Open Knowledge Festival 2014 in Berlin this year was fantastic and we plan
to run an Open Knowledge Festival 2015 next year.

I’m writing as part of what will be an ongoing process to solicit input re
Open Knowledge Festival 2015. Today's email focuses, at this point, on a
key first step, namely the location - I emphasize that this is just the
first of many things to discuss re the Festival but this is the first
priority as we need to sort out the location (and relatedly the date) asap.
I will also take a moment to provide a bit of essential background for a
decision about location.


First, some background: As we said last year (2013),  we have made some
changes about how we do OKFestivals and OKCons:

A. Primary organizing responsibility for Open Knowledge Festival will fall
on Open Knowledge “International” (rather than being a local chapter) .
Open Knowledge International will, of course, always work with all local
groups and the broader community to include them in the event, especially
in programming.

B. Open Knowledge Festival will likely not move around that much, at least
for the foreseeable future (it will likely stay located in one (or at most
2) places)

C. OKCons (Open Knowledge Conferences) can be organized locally and
regionally by any local groups who want to do so. Open Knowledge encourages
local community-organized OKCons and Open Knowledge International can
provide some event guidance and cross-promotion.

Why make these changes?


   By creating these distinct options local groups are encouraged  free to
   go run events without depending on Open Knowledge “International” (and Open
   Knowledge International will happily support and promote all such event
   activities). Meanwhile Open Knowledge International has primary
   responsibility for coordinating a great Open Knowledge Festival.

   Its a huge amount of work to put on an Open Knowledge Festival and
   involves significant financial commitment as well as dedicated staff and
   resources. Both 2012 and 2013 events were amazing but took a huge amount
   from the partner local group and also involved significant risk for all
   parties (in terms of up-front financial commitments etc).

   These events whilst awesome have so far almost never broken even on a
   full-cost basis - they generally make a small-ish loss (and there’s
   always the risk of a big loss since you have to make up-front commitments
   for venue, organizing etc and revenues in terms of tickets etc come later).
   As a smallish non-profit, this is a big deal for Open Knowledge
   International but it is potentially an even bigger deal for a local group
   (especially when they commit a lot of time and energy). At the same time we
   plan to continue the approach whereby Open Knowledge Festival was a
   great convenor of many communities. Many friends and partners hosted
   side-events or united their community at the event. We will make every
   attempt diversify these events with friends and partners in a similar way
   in the future.

   Running the event in the same place can significantly reduce
   organizational and other expenses (since you can reuse learning and
   experience from previous years). It also may make it easier to fund-raise
   since you have pre-existing contacts.

The Specific Issue

This brings me to today’s specific issue: thinking about the location of
Open Knowledge Festival 2015?

At present, the two likely options are London or Berlin based on:

A. the location of the coordinating and organizing team (who are primarily
Europe based at the moment)

B. the strong desire to run the event somewhere we’ve run major events
before (as above: this helps us build on previous learning and experience,
saves on logistical planning and reduces risk in a big way). This is
similar to other large open events such as OSCon or MozFest.

However,  it would be fantastic to hear people’s thoughts both on this idea
and on the criteria by which we should determine location (these could be
especially relevant if at some point in the future we want to consider
relocating or moving the Festival around). I also emphasize that this is
just the first of many things to discuss regarding Open Knowledge Festival,
and as always, we hope all of the community will get heavily involved
especially in programme curation. Also by confirming the venue and doing it
somewhere that is cost-effective we can spend more time and energy on
bringing as many of the community to the event as possible.

The kinds of criteria I can imagine at the moment are (in no specific


   Cost /ease of travel to the location from around the world (e.g. are you
   at or near a large international hub airport)

   Complexity and cost for organizers / coordinators (e.g. organizing an
   event in a new location is more complex than doing in previous location.
   Organizing with 4 lead organizers is more complex than with two or one)

   Venue options and costs (this is all-in costs - often a venue may be
   cheap or even “free” but has large number of hidden extra costs - or
   requires the organizers to take care of setup and takedown etc)

   Living costs at the location (e.g. hotels, food etc)

   Complexity of travel arrangements for participants (e.g. how hard is it
   to get visas- this is extra important for organizing team as they will
   often have to support this process)

   Local partnership opportunities

   Local fund-raising opportunities

   Financial complexity of operation (e.g. do you need a local fiscal
   partner/sponsor and how complex are the local tax and legislation)

Would be great to get folks’ thoughts both on additional items not included
and any thoughts on this list as well as generally.



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