[open-science] Fwd: [okfn-discuss] Open Knowledge Festival update

Jenny Molloy jenny.molloy at okfn.org
Wed Feb 4 14:23:26 UTC 2015

All thoughts on local events very welcome over on the okfn-discuss list or
here in relation to open science.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Naomi Lillie <naomi.lillie at okfn.org>
Date: Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 1:06 PM
Subject: [okfn-discuss] Open Knowledge Festival update
To: Open Knowledge Foundation discussion list <okfn-discuss at lists.okfn.org>,
Open Knowledge Foundation Local Coordinators Mailing List <
okfn-local-coord at lists.okfn.org>, "wg-coord at lists.okfn.org" <
wg-coord at lists.okfn.org>

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
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
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.


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
- 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 Lillie

Network Director

skype: n.lillie  |  @naomilillie <https://twitter.com/NaomiLillie>

Open Knowledge <http://okfn.org/>    -    See how data can change the world

http://okfn.org/  |  @okfn <http://twitter.com/OKFN>  |  Facebook
<https://www.facebook.com/OKFNetwork>  |  Blog <http://blog.okfn.org/>

Open Knowledge Community Stories | http://okfncommunity.tumblr.com/ | see
how people are changing the world

Open Knowledge is a not-for-profit organisation.  It is incorporated in
England & Wales as a company limited by guarantee, with company number
05133759.  VAT Registration № GB 984404989. Registered office address: Open
Knowledge, St John’s Innovation Centre, Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0WS, UK.

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