Posted by & filed under Information, News.

We have some great news for you all! Thanks to a little stretching of our [Accommodation Subsidies programme]( we can now offer limited beds for OKCon at just 30 euros per night. In a city like Geneva, this is truly a bargain price!

If you haven’t yet booked your accommodation, or you were just looking for that one last reason to come to OKCon (as if there weren’t enough already!) – then get in touch with [email protected].

coffee sleep mug

More details on what we are offering:

  • a bed in a same-sex (women-only, men-only) dorm room (2-10 people) in an hostel in Geneva
  • for 3 nights, from Monday 16th September to Wednesday 18th September (please note that we will not be able to offer different dates)
  • at the price of 30 EUR per night (total for 3 nights: 90 EUR)

Because we are a community-driven, mostly volunteer-run event, OKCon ticket costs are not covered by the accommodation subsidies. If you are awarded an accommodation subsidy, you will be asked to purchase your ticket within the two following business days after you’ll have received our confirmation.

To get your 30 Euro-a-night accommodation, email [email protected] as soon as possible – places are limited, and there’s just two weeks to go before the start of OKCon!

Posted by & filed under News, OKCon.

Sign up now for workshops!

Lovely attendees, it’s time to make plans for the workshops you want to attend at OKCon! Each workshop session now has detailed information about moderators and speakers, topics that will be covered, and practical information about capacity limits and where and when they will be taking place.

There are three very easy steps to follow:

Step 1 – Go to the [Schedule](
Step 2 – Click on your favourite workshop(s)
Step 3 – Get in touch with the organisers via the email address given to express your interest, begin collaborating, and book your place – hurry, seats are limited!

The workshop organisers are ready and waiting for your input and ideas, and can’t wait to fine tune the session with you! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with them if you have any questions about the workshop.

Why not check out:

…and there are many more!

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

Our tenth guest post in the OKCon speaker series is from Maya Indira Ganesh. She will be speaking in the session ‘Data-driven storytelling’, as part of the Evidence and Stories programme, on Wednesday 18 September, 14:45 –16:00 @ Main Stage Room 2.

Evidence & Influence
New approaches to working with information for advocacy

Two years ago I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, a work of non fiction about factory farming, and decided to become a vegetarian (again).

(Image by Maya Ganesh)

Foer’s book brings a fiction writer’s touch to what could otherwise be a dense mass of statistics; it is emotive: alongside the numbers it weaves in stories of his grandmother surviving the Holocaust, impending fatherhood and appeals to imagine the silent screaming of little fishies being killed (moos and groans of a cow on a conveyor belt, by comparison, can be heard). It appeals to morality and ethical reasoning: it asks you to consider why you wouldn’t eat the family dog but have no problem eating a cow. It is also knowingly persuasive: Foer lays out, in graphic detail, how cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and fish are reared and raised in industrial farming complexes, and how they are then slaughtered.

More than a paean to vegetarianism, the book encourages the reader to think about the political, economic and social contexts and consequences of the act of producing and eating any kind of food. The book changed how I eat and more importantly, how I cook and shop for produce. I refer to this example because it leads me to ask: what does it take to create influence that can change people’s opinions, ideas and even their whole lives?

The storyteller Neil Gaiman says this about stories:

“Stories, like people …. are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas-abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken-and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.” (Fragile Things – Short Fictions and Wonders)

Activists and advocates attempt to do something similar with their issue: to capture attention and present ideas through the skillful organisation of the right kinds of information into a narrative that is memorable and moving. Finding the story that sticks, knowing how to integrate data and the visual within its narrative and identifying the best platforms to present an issue is often a challenge for campaigners, and is part of what our work at Tactical Tech’s Evidence & Action Programme is about.

With the increased opportunities for campaigning and advocacy with data, the challenges of security of data, and in establishing the veracity of and interpretation of data, evidence-based advocacy is poised at an exciting new moment to think about what influence means and how it may be achieved. Tactical Tech’s recent Info-Activism Camp titled ‘Evidence and Influence’ brought together 135 designers, technologists, mappers, hackers, data specialists, activists and advocates to work on what this means. For six days we shared knowledge, ideas, skills, and fostered strong ties for future collaborations.

Our morning tracks at the Camp focused on four approaches to working with information for advocacy, which we called Documentation, Investigation, Curation and Intervention. We created these categories as ways to think about, plan for and identify skills and techniques for information as evidence in advocacy. Each one has particular characteristics and features, and yet are not that separate. Each one has a narrative arc that is slightly different from the next one, yet the intrepid information activist often has to lean on these at different moments and depending on the context.

One of these, investigation, a longstanding tradition in journalism, is particularly exciting at this moment. We recently profiled the work of Paul Radu who primarily works with journalists to use data, visualisation and investigative techniques to expose organised crime and corruption. Getting to know Paul and his work, we were keen to have him at the Camp and have him share his skills and see how this resonated with activists and advocates who work with very similar tools. What can activists learn from investigative journalism’s techniques? What are the tools available and how may they be applicable to the work of information-activists? My presentation on September 18th at the Open Knowledge Conference will showcase Paul Radu’s work as well as two nascent activist investigations inspired by Paul’s work. The meal that Paul and his newest fans share? Data, of course.

*Note: I have flexitarian tendencies; I am not saying no to sushi; sometimes my aunt’s rogan josh will also challenge me.

Maya Indira Ganesh is Programme Director at Tactical Technology Collective. She has worked as a researcher, writer and activist with women’s rights organizations in India, international NGOs and academic institutions, including UNICEF, the Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Networking Support Program, Point of View and Tata Institute for Social Sciences. She has worked on projects spanning a range from gender rights, violence against women, sexuality rights, HIV/AIDS prevention with young people and digital media use, policy and communication rights. She has published non-fiction and academic writing about old and new media from trashy pulp magazines to sleek mobile phones. She has Masters degrees in Psychology from Delhi University in India, and in Media and Cultural Studies from the University of Sussex, UK.

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

The ninth in our series guest post by OKCon 2013 speakers is by Primavera De Filippi, Mario Purkathofer and Daniel Boos. They will be holding the satelite event ‘Re:Public Domain Remix + Walk’, part of the Open Culture programme, on Thursday 19 September, 10:00 – 18:00 @ KulturBüro, Rue de Berne 63, 1201 Genève.

The Re:Public Domain Remix is an event run by Dock18, the Open Knowledge Foundation France, Wikimedia (France & Switzerland) and Migros Kulturprozent aimed at encouraging people to remix public domain works in a creative way. In France a Public Domain Remix partnership challenge was started specifically seeking to promote the use and reuse of public domain works through an interdisciplinary and transmedial approach: rather than following the same medium, we encourage people to shift from one medium to the other (e.g. remixing a literary work into music, a photograph into a sculpture, etc). In Switzerland four Re:Public Domain events will explore the use of public domain works based on tools (eg. serigraphy, 3d printing, apps) build by artists. Overall the goal of all this activities is to promote the public domain by showing what can actually be done with it.

10:00 -13:00 @ Kulturbüro
Invited artists will act as mediator between the artworks and the public, who will be invited to remix these works. Each artist will be responsible for coordinating actions within its own stream or category, encouraging people to remix the works in front of them in new and creative ways. Each artist will be in charge of answering questions and sharing their own skills (e.g. explaining which kind of tools can be used to remix these works, and teaching people how to actually use those tools).

  • Serigraphy by So:ren Berner, Public can print their own t-shirt with Public Domain Materials. Bring your T-Shirts!
  • Track Raid mit Ableton User Group, Sound Remixing with Public Domain Materials. Bring your own laptops with Ableton Live
  • 3d Printer with Fablab Zürich, the sculpture “Neue Badende” will be printed in different colors on a 3D-Printer.
  • App by Christoph Stähli, a mobile audio application to remix Public Domain materials. Bring your mobile phones!

The public will be responsible for bringing joy and creativity. Participants will be invited to either work individually on one work or to collaborate towards the creation of a larger multimedia works.

15:00 -18:00 Monte Salève
robert-musil-der-mann-ohne-eigenschaftenWalk & Book Presentation
Meeting 15:00 at Kulturbüro Geneve
In the afternoon, we will do a walk to the woods of Mont Saleve, where we present the new book by D18 Edition & Typolibre. Reading some fragments, doing field records, presenting some remixes on the wild side together with 15000 fragments by Robert Musil.

His unfinished novel The Man Without Qualities is generally considered to be one of the most important modernist novels. However, the novel has not been widely read both because of its delayed publication and intricate, lengthy plot. Musil died on April 14th 1942 in Geneva.
Martha (his wife) wrote to Franz Theodor Csokor that taking off his clothes in the bathroom, maybe when doing gymnastics or just making a hefty movement, he had been hit by a stroke and, when she found him a few minutes later, did not look dead at all but so alive with some mockery and astonishment on his face. He was 61 years old and only eight people were present at his cremation. Martha cast his ashes into the woods of Mont Salève. Musil’s works entered the public domain on January 1st, 2013.

Bureau Culture Geneve

Monte Salève

Primavera De Filippi
Primavera De Filippi is a researcher at the CERSA / CNRS / Université Paris II. She is currently a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, where is investigating the concept of “governance by design” as it relates to cloud computing and peer-to-peer technologies. Primavera holds a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence, where she explored the legal challenges of copyright law in the digital environment. Primavera is an administrator of the Communia association for the public domain, a coordinator at the Open Knowldege Foundation and legal expert for Creative Commons in France. She is also the co-founder of an artistic collective that produces interactive (digital and mechanical) works released under open licenses.

Mario Purkathofer
Living in Zurich in gaps since 1998 (Residence Status C). Studied sculpting, sociology, e-business, German philology, and new media at the ZHDK from 1998–2003. Graduated 2003 in Zurich. Founded the Dock18 Space for Media Cultures of the World in 2005, and has been in charge of Dock18 since then. In his free time he teaches computer science at the free catholic school in Zurich, and supervises the project work. Other than that he does freelance work in the areas of project consultancy and innovation management. He developed the project Public Domain together with Daniel Boos, with continuous events since 2008.

Daniel Boos
Daniel Boos lives in Zurich and works in Bern or Zurich. He is active in Digitale Allmend, where he was a member of the board until early 2012. Together with Dock18 he organized the Public Domain Jam. His particular interest is in the question of how works in the public domain can be creatively acquired and used again. He is interested in, and was active in the context of different network policy initiatives. These included groups such as communia,, Creative Commons Switzerland, SIUG. This concerned, among others, topics such as copyright, camera surveillance and the ironic presentation of prizes to surveillance operators. Daniel Boos is a social scientist and has a PHD from the ETH Zurich.

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

For the eigth guest post by OKCon 2013 speakers we thank Javier de la Torre and Andrew Hill. Javier’s partner at cartoDB Sergio Alvarez will be running the workshop ‘Online Mapping: how to analyze, visualize and build apps with your geospatial data’, as part of the Technology, Tools and Business programme, on Monday 16 September, 17:15 – 18:15 @ Room 19, Floor 3.

Using CartoDB to tell stories in open data

In the open data, mapping, and GIS circles of New York City, the PLUTO dataset has been the topic of many conversations over the years. It gained a good amount of its reputation from being one of few datasets apparently exempt from Mayor Bloomberg’s open data initiatives. The reputation was probably helped by the fact that the data was actually available to researchers and businesses, for a price. That all changed back in late July when the Department of Planning revised its policy on the dataset, making it free to all users.

It was probably only a matter of hours after the update before our friends were tweeting and emailing us the reports. It isn’t everyday that an important new dataset that you have talked about hundreds of times before, suddenly becomes free to the public. A couple weeks passed before we were able to sit down and dig into what this data really contains. At the request of our friends over at OpenPlans, we started to put together a tour of the PLUTO data. What started as a small project to create a handful of maps, quickly grew into a tour with nearly 30 interesting stops.


We were not sure what other people would think of the tour, for us it was just exciting to take people along in our own journey to uncover what was inside the dataset. It turns out that quite a few other people also liked the tour. We think this is just a small testament to the impact that open data can have, both on journalism as well as data literacy, communication, and a host of other subjects. We can’t help but think that it must be an exciting time to be an anthropologist. We know that as data come available in easy-to-use formats, exciting new research and reporting projects will come with them.

This is where our own open source project, CartoDB, comes in. When we started the PLUTO Data Tour, we really had no idea what we expected to find or show from the data. With CartoDB though, we were able to quickly pull out of this huge dataset a few unique and interesting stories, through the use of SQL and CSS to filter and style our maps. That ability is priceless when building technology around data or even creating visual experiments like those we created for the tour.

At this year’s OKCon, we are very excited to be giving a small workshop to those interested in CartoDB, our open source mapping technology. We want to show others how to go from data to maps and visualizations quickly without having to sacrifice usability or beautiful design. If you are interested in those things, consider joining us for the workshop. It will be a great time and you’ll get to work hands on with us to start building the next generation of maps from open data on open source software.

Andrew Hill is the senior scientist at Vizzuality where he explores the future of online mapping to help guide innovation at CartoDB.

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

The seventh guest post in the series of contributions by OKCon 2013 speakers is by Matthew Todd, who will host a satellite event entitled ‘Is Open Source Drug Discovery Practical?’ in the Open Science and Research programme on Thursday 19 September from 09:00 – 12:00 at the World Health Organization (WHO) – UNAIDS HQ, room D46031. Please register to attend here. Find instructions about how to get there below.

Is Open Source Drug Discovery Practical?

IsOpenSourceDrugDiscoveryPracticalIf we value collaboration as a way of speeding scientific progress, we should all embrace open science since it promises to supercharge the collaboration process, both by making data available to anyone but also by allowing anyone to work on a problem. Open science can obviously promise this because of its essential and defining condition: openness. We, as humans, default to this way of interacting with each other, but such norms can be overridden where there is some advantage in keeping secrets. A possible advantage might be financial, meaning there may be an incentive to work in a closed way if something one has done can be capitalized on for financial reward, leading to the idea of “intellectual property” and its protection through patents.

So we appear to have two opposing forms of enquiry. One that is open (without patents) and one that is closed. Clearly there are examples of great things arising from both.

One of the areas of science that has been of late dominated by the private sector is the pharmaceutical industry. Many effective medicines have been developed using the current model, but is it the only way? Might drug discovery that aligns with open source principles be possible?

My lab has been involved in trying to answer this question, both in developing ways to improve how we make medicines and how we discover new ones. The latter project, Open Source Malaria, directly challenges the idea that something new and of potential value to health should be sequestered away from public involvement. The OSM project abandons the protection of intellectual property so we may take advantage of the greatest number of people working on the problem in a barrierless, meritocratic collaboration.

There are historical arguments that patents are not necessary to drug discovery. Therapeutics of great value have been developed without patents, such as penicillin and the polio vaccine. The ability to patent molecular structures (rather than the methods used to make them) is a relatively recent invention. Patents have been accused of allowing companies to innovate less frequently.

But is an open approach really possible for the development of a new drug? Who would pay for the clinical trials? Who would invest money in the medicine if there is no monopoly on selling it downstream? Is there a realistic economic model that can take a promising new therapeutic and turn it into a medicine for treating millions of people? If open drug discovery is possible for diseases such as malaria, where there is little prospect of a profit, can the same model be applied to a disease like cancer, or Alzheimer’s, where the predicted profit would be very high under the current model?

These questions will all be addressed at a session I am hosting at the Open Knowledge Conference. This satellite event, taking place on the Thursday, is entitled “Is Open Source Drug Discovery Practical?“. I am very excited to have assembled a highly knowledgeable panel to discuss these issues, and in some ways it is lucky that OKCon is taking place in Geneva, where so many of the people most relevant to the current method of finding new medicines are located. The speakers are from the World Health Organisation, the Medicines for Malaria Venture, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, GlaxoSmithKline, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the Structural Genomics Consortium. If anyone is able to answer the session’s main question, these speakers can.

These panel members will have 10 minutes to speak about their organization’s efforts related to a more open approach to drug discovery. We will then have some coffee, and then turn to addressing some of the key questions above. There will be ample chance for members of the audience to take an active role in the discussion. If you are interested in the quandary of how we are going to find the drugs that we most need for the coming generations, and how we might be able to use open data and open research to do that, then this session is for you. The subject is so interesting because the discovery of effective new medicines is very hard: we assume, then, that the best way to do the research is using a massively distributed collaboration with lots of open data, yet that model is a real challenge today because of the structures we have put in place to support the industry.

Please join us! The session will take place at WHO’s main headquarters from 09:00 till 12:00. Please register to attend here, where you will also find more detail of the specific items for discussion and the panel members.

Location: Initially sign in at the WHO main building then go across to the WHO-UNAIDS building, meeting room D46031 (take lift 33/34 to go to the 4th floor).

Instructions on getting to WHO by public transport

[Picture credit]

Mat Todd was born in Manchester, England. He obtained his PhD in organic chemistry from Cambridge University in 1999, was a Wellcome Trust postdoc at The University of California, Berkeley, a college fellow back at Cambridge University, a lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London and since 2005 has been at the School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney.
His research interests include the development of new ways to make molecules, particularly how to make chiral molecules with new catalysts. He is also interested in making metal complexes that do unusual things when they meet biological molecules or metal ions. His lab motto is “To make the right molecule in the right place at the right time”, and his students are currently trying to work out what this means.
He has a significant interest in open science, and how it may be used to accelerate research, with particular emphasis on open source discovery of drugs and catalysts. He is Chair of The Synaptic Leap, a nonprofit dedicated to open biomedical research, and currently leads the Open Source Malaria consortium. In 2011 he was awarded a NSW Scientist of the Year award in the Emerging Research category for his work in open science. He is on the Editorial Boards of PLoS One, Chemistry Central Journal and ChemistryOpen. He is a Sydney Ambassador of the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

The sixth guest post in the series of contributions by OKCon 2013 speakers is by Iulian Pogor (World Bank), Meghan Cook (University at Albany), Barbara Ubaldi (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD) and Ton Zijlstra (Open Knowledge Foundation). They are among the coordinators of the workshop Open Data Toolkits and Assessment Tools, which will take place, as part of the Open Development and Sustainability programme, on Tuesday 17 September from 11:30 to 13:15 @ Room 14, Floor 2.


A growing network of governments, corporations and civil society organizations around the world are working to expand the availability of open government data by removing technical and legal barriers to data re-use, and engaging the public to unlock the full potential of open data as valuable economic assets and drivers of civic engagement. There are currently hundreds of open data initiatives and a large number of organizations providing assistance to run them. However, the vast majority of them are focused on developed countries and only a few institutions are providing technical assistance to developing countries’ open data initiatives.

The Open Data Toolkits and Assessment Tools workshop to be held on September 17 from 11:30 to 13:15 within the Open Knowledge Conference will present some technical assistance tools and the emerging lessons from implementation of those in developing countries and discuss options for their improvement. The workshop will be broken down in two parts: (i) short presentations and discussion on the World Bank’s Open Government Data Toolkit (by Amparo Ballivian, Chair of the Bank’s Open Government Data Working Group) and the United Nations Guidelines on Open Government Data for Citizen Engagement (by Daniel Dietrich, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs), and (ii) longer presentations and discussion on the open data readiness assessment methodologies from the World Bank and the Web Foundation (by Tim Davies, Research Coordinator), the Center for Technology in Government (by Meghan Cook, Program Director), OECD (by Barbara Ubaldi, E-Government Unit Project Leader) and Open Knowledge Foundation (by Ton Zijlstra, Independent Consultant on Change, Complexity, Knowledge Work, Learning) along with the lessons learned from their applications in developing countries. This second session will aim to gather ideas for improvements of these assessment methodologies.

Please see below short descriptions of the respective tools. We invite your feedback regarding the workshop and the tools in the comments section of this post before, during, and after the conference.

OpenGovernmentDataToolkitThe World Bank Open Government Data Toolkit is designed to help practitioners get “up to speed” in planning and implementing an open government data program, while avoiding common pitfalls. Resources include:

  • Open Data Essentials – answers “Frequently Asked Questions” about open data with many examples.
  • Technology Options – describes open data scenarios with different levels of complexity, and suggests technical solutions for open data platforms appropriate to each scenario.
  • Demand and Engagement – offers a ‘menu’ of services to promote and support ‘Open Data Literacy’, the goal of which is to catalyze, engage, and inspire strategic multi-stakeholder groups to see the value and potential of open data, and what it means for local, national, and regional development in a practical, hands-on way.
  • Supply and Quality of Data – discusses basic examples of data quality standards and useful tools to review, refine, clean, analyze, visualize and publish data.
  • Readiness Assessment Tool – provides a methodological tool for conducting an action-oriented assessment of the readiness of a government – or even an individual agency – to evaluate, design and implement an Open Data initiative. The tool has been applied in Ulyanovsk (Russia),  Antigua and Barbuda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Peru.

OpenGovernmentDataAndServicesThe Guidelines on Open Government Data for Citizen Engagement is a practical and easy-to-understand guideline for policy makers and technologists developed by the UN Public Administration Programme. It can be used to understand, design, implement and sustain open government data initiatives. The toolkit is tailored to the needs and constraints of developing countries, but it can be used by anyone interested in opening up data. It contains the core principles of openness, best practices and case studies, checklists, step-by-step guidelines and practical policy recommendations.

WebFoundationThe Web Foundation has completed initial assessments of two countries’ readiness for implementing open government data programs, in Ghana and in Chile and a third feasibility study is expected to be conducted in Indonesia. Initially, the Web Foundation developed a methodology and a set of composite indicators to define open government data readiness of a given country. These indicators range from political willingness, the public administration readiness, and the civil society interest and readiness. The Web Foundation followed this by conducting research to provide quantitative and qualitative data in preparation for in-country visits, during which the Web Foundation met with key stakeholders to refine the assessment of open government data readiness in their country.

20year_logoFor over 20 years, the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at State University of New York has developed tools and guides that help governments assess their capabilities, gauge readiness, and inform the design and implementation of open government and open data initiatives. Some selected CTG’s resources to build knowledge and assess readiness include:

Most recently CTG conducted an open government readiness assessment in the Republic of Nigeria using a blended approach of both World Bank and CTG’s tools and techniques.

OECDThe OECD project on Open Government Data (OGD) aims to develop a knowledge base on OGD policies, strategies and initiatives. The ultimate goal of the methodology proposed in the Working Paper on OGD Towards Empirical Analysis of Open Government Data Initiatives is to map practices across the OECD and to identify metrics to evaluate costs and benefits of OGD. This provides a framework for data collection to assess the economic, social and good governance value generated by making government data open, as well as the required conditions for successful implementation of OGD initiatives.

The assessment will also underlie policy support and capacity building activities to help governments in OECD and developing countries improve the impact of their OGD policies and practices. The assessment methodology includes: (i) An Analytical Framework for examining OGD initiatives, planning and implementation, and (ii) survey data collection on: OGD strategies and policies, implementation of OGD initiatives and portals, value generation and creation of relevant ecosystems, challenges to implementing OGD policies and initiatives.

OpenDataCensusThe Open Data Census assesses the state of open data around the world. The Census is a community-based effort initiated and coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation but with participation from many different groups or individuals. It collects and presents information on the evolution and current state of open data.

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

The fifth in our series of guest posts by OKCon 2013 speakers is by Pieter Colpaert and Kat Borlongan who will be offering the workshop ‘Open Transport Data: the next step’ in the Open Transport Data session on Wednesday 18 September, 14:45 – 16:00 @ Room 14, Floor 2.

open-transport-data-manifestoEven though the transport sector plays an essential role in the fight against climate change, it seems that journalism, advocacy and academic attention is often directed to more popular flashpoints instead of what turns out to be one of the largest contributors to global warming in the world. Transportation is one of the fastest growing emission sector of carbon dioxide out there . The good news? Data can help.

A year ago, we published the Open Transport Data manifest. The manifest, written together with the EPSI platform, suggests that it is time for a different data policy for the transport sector and beyond: the true potential of transport data is yet to be unleashed. Transport Data owners everywhere need to open up data we can use to better inform their users. Here is one of those times we suggest you tune in for the next steps:

On Wednesday 18th September, between 14:15 and 16:00 at Room 14, Floor 2 at OKCon, we (the Open Transport Working Group at OKFN) are organising a workshop. Our goal in under 90 minutes: to discuss the next steps in better defining the problems at hand and suggesting, examining and perhaps even starting to implement solutions.

A bug report for the world

In order to prepare for this, we just launched a Call for Ideas: if you are coming to the workshop, define your problem and how you are tackling it (or how you would tackle it). Here is how things work following that: The workshop will be divided in four plenary debates, each of which will start off with a lightning talk introducing one of the ideas.

The workshop is open to all stakeholders and we’re hoping to welcome as wide an array of profiles possible. Transport data in itself is a very diverse data domain and publishing such data involves dealing with multiple hurdles. Statistics, geographical data, real-time alerts, dynamic lists (and this goes on) need to get out there and all these datasets have different ways of getting published: RSS feeds, plain old XML endpoints, SPARQL endpoints, RESTful webservices, HTML tables, database dumps and so on.

Here’s an example in the field of interoperability: How do you identify a stop area? How can we make machines understand that a certain bicycle garage is part of a railway station while we only have a dataset from the railway company and a geographic dataset providing locations of bicycle garage locations? A possible generic solution could be that we create a vocabulary which all dataset try to adhere to, or provide a mapping towards.

The report of the workshop will be published on our working group’s website and will be used as the vision of the working group for 2013/2014. All submitted ideas will be included.

Open Transport Data isn’t the most media savvy of the bunch, but is without doubt one of the most challenging kinds of Open Data, the kind you need to roll your sleeves all the way up for. Government agencies need to be convinced, private corporations need to be arm-wrestled with, mounds and mounds of data need to be gathered and made interoperable and let’s not even try measuring the diversity of actors from bus companies to ride-share startups to train station authorities (not often the same as the train authorities or the railroad track authorities)… Complex? Hopefully not for too long. It is our task to make it as easy as possible to open up data and to make that data both used and useful. Let’s play our part.

Pieter Colpaert believes a lot of frustration today is caused by data not being accessible (when does my train leave, how long do I have to queue, where does my money go, and so on). His goal is to increase your life quality by contextualizing data into information without you even noticing it. Apart from being a co-founder of Open Knowledge Foundation Belgium, he coordinates the Open Transport Working Group at OKFN and pursues a PhD on Linked Open Data at the University of Ghent.

Kat Borlongan is an open data enthusiast with several hats. Currently, she is the co-founder of Five by Five, an advisor to the French Government’s open data task force and a founding member of Open Knowledge Foundation France. Prior to this, she worked as the Country Director of Reporters sans frontières’ Canadian bureau and as a public information consultant to the SNCF and the International Civil Aviation Organization. As a merit scholar of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kat completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Bordeaux. She also holds a master’s degree in Communication from McGill University.

Posted by & filed under Information, Invited Speakers, OKCon.

This post is by Marieke Guy, LinkedUp Project Community Coordinator. Marieke will be at OKCon organizing the Open Education session “The facets of open education: resources, data and culture and the presentations from competitors in the LinkedUp Project Veni Competition. Join her and the LinkedUp team on Tuesday 17 September 11:45 – 13:15 @ Room 13, Floor 2.



Open Education Working Group and Panel

Discussions around open education tend to focus primarily on Open Educational Resources (OER) – freely accessible, openly licensed resources that are used for teaching, learning, educational, assessment and research purposes. However open education is a complex beast made up of many aspects, and the important elements of opening up relevant educational data and changing both institutional and wider culture are often neglected.


The EU-funded LinkedUp Project is set up to specifically focus on increasing the exploitation of open data available on the Web by educational institutions and organizations. In the Veni Competition, part of the running LinkedUp Challenge, we have challenged competitors to create innovative prototypes and demos for tools that analyse and/or integrate linked and open web data for educational purposes.

We are keen to see the discussions around open data in education pulled into the wider debates around open education, and therefore, we are setting up an Open Education Working Group. The group is still at an early stage of development but we’re keen to get the community involved from the start so they can help shape the objectives and initial activities. Sign up to the mailing list and help us begin to think about what this Open Education Working Group needs to do.

Some of the ideas will be explored in more detail in a panel session delivered at OKCon which is sponsored by the LinkedUp project. The panel session is entitled: The facets of open education: resources, data and culture and will take place on Tuesday 17 September, 11:30 – 12:45 @ Room 13, Floor 2. It will consider questions such as What is Open Education? What role can open data play to make education better, more accessible and more open? How can we ensure that open education really widens participation?

The session will be moderated by Doug Belshaw, Badges & Skills Lead, Mozilla Foundation and panelists will include:

  • Jackie Carter, Senior Manager, MIMAS, Centre of Excellence, University of Manchester, UK
  • Mathieu d’Aquin, Research fellow, Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, UK
  • Davide Storti, Programme Specialist, Communication and Information Sector (CI), UNESCO

The panel session will end with presentations from competitors in the LinkedUp Project Veni Competition. We have challenged competitors to create innovative prototypes and demos for tools that analyse and/or integrate linked and open web data for educational purposes. There have been some great entries and the shortlist has just been announced, so we urge you to come and see the presentations the competitors give!

We will then be announcing the winners of the Veni Competition later in the day on the main stage.

We really hope to see you at OKCon and at the Open Education Panel Session! Register today!

Posted by & filed under Information, OKCon.

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At a house party, the kitchen almost always is the place to be – that’s where all the good stuff is coming from, the source where things start, the place where things happen! At the Open Knowledge Conference that’s the HackSpace: the place where things get done, and it’s right behind the bar!

The OKCon HackSpace is the place to work after the workshop, to get key ideas from a keynote actually implemented, to work on code, to work on the last slides for your presentation, to just get things done, together. The space has excellent Wifi, more than enough power outlets, grouped chairs and tables, some whiteboards and a big screen, and no formal schedule. It’s right around the corner from the bar, quiet, and decorated all in red leather. Really.

So you need a desk for a group to work on an idea: just come. Want to have some time to close some issues on Github, to fix and push some code: just come. Want to get expert advice, want to find somebody with a very specific skill? Come! Want to show off a project of yours? Or maybe you have to make an announcement: There’s a very relaxed unconference-style schedule at the entrance, managed by some local community members: come, get your name on the roster, and get the word out!

The Law Mining Hackdays are taking place here Tuesday and Wednesday – talk to Christian Laux, Oleg Lavrovsky, or Jean-Henry Morin! – and some important Open Transport Data work is scheduled to take place here as well – talk to Pieter Colpaert for more on that. For all other questions: please get in touch with us: [email protected]!