Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

The fourth in our series of guest posts by OKCon 2013 speakers is by Duncan Edwards and originally appeared on the Impact and Learning blog. Duncan Edwards will be coordinating the Open Development and Sustainability session “The role of Open Knowledge and Data in supporting decision making in International Development” on Wednesday 18 September.

I talk to a lot of friends and colleagues who work in research, knowledge intermediary, and development organisations about some of the open data work I’ve been doing in relation research communications. Their usual response is “so it’s about technology?” or “open data is about governance and transparency, right?”. Well no, it’s not just about technology and it’s broader than governance and transparency.

I believe that there is real potential for open data approaches in increasing the impact of research knowledge for poverty reduction and social justice. In this post I outline how I see Open Data fitting within a theory of change of how research knowledge can influence development.

Every year thousands of datasets, reports and articles are generated about development issues. Yet much of this knowledge is kept in ‘information silos’ and remains unreachable and underused by broader development actors. Material is either not available or difficult to find online. There can be upfront fees, concerns regarding intellectual property rights, fears that institutions/practitioners don’t have the knowhow, means or time to share, or political issues within an organisation that can mean this material is not used.

What is “Open data”? What is “Linked Open Data”?
The Open Knowledge Foundation says “a piece of content or data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.”

The Wikipedia entry for Linked Data describes it as “a method of publishing structured data so that it can be interlinked and become more useful. It builds upon standard Web technologies such as HTTP and URIs, but rather than using them to serve web pages for human readers, it extends them to share information in a way that can be read automatically by computers. This enables data from different sources to be connected and queried…. the idea is very old and is closely related to concepts including database network models, citations between scholarly articles, and controlled headings in library catalogs.”

So Linked Open Data can be described as Open Data which is published in a way that can be interlinked with other datasets. Think about two data sets with country categorisation – if you publish these as linked data, you can then make the link between related content between different datasets for any given country.

For more definitions and discussion on data see Tim Davies post “Untangling the data debate: definitions and implications”.

Why should Open Data be of interest to research producers?
The way in which the Internet and technology has evolved means that instead of simply producing a website from which people can consume your content, you can open up your content so that others can make use of, and link it in new and exciting ways.

There are many theories of change which look to articulate how research evidence can affect development policy and practice. The Knowledge Services department at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) works with a theory of change which views access to, and demand for, research knowledge, along with the capacity to engage effectively with it, as critical elements to research evidence uptake and use in relation to decision-making within development. Open Data has significant potential in relation to the ‘access to’ element of this theory of change.

Contextualisation and new spaces
When we think about access to research knowledge – we should go beyond simply having access to a research document. Instead we must look at whether research knowledge is available in a suitable format and language, and whether it has been contextualised in a way which makes sense to an audience within a given environment.


I like to use a Data cake metaphor developed by Mark Johnstone to illustrate this – if we consider research outputs to be the data/ingredients for the cake, then we organise, summarise and catalogue this (i.e. add meta-data) to ‘bake’ into our information cake. We then present this information in a way in which we feel is most useful and “palatable” to our intended audiences with the intention they will consume it and be able to make use of new knowledge. It’s in this area that Open Data approaches can really increase the potential uptake of research – if you make your information/ content open it creates the possibility that other intermediaries can easily make use of this content to contextualise and present it to their own users in a way that is more likely to be consumed.

Essentially by opening up datasets of research materials you can reduce duplication, allow people to reuse, repurpose, remix this content in many more spaces thereby increasing the potential for research findings to be taken up and influencing change in the world.

While I see significant benefits in researchers making their outputs available and accessible in an open manner we must redress the dominance of knowledge generated in the global North. We need to continue to invest in the strengthening of intermediaries at local, national, and international levels to make use of research material and Open Data to influence positive change.

NOTE: an admission on Open Access – The original article this post is based on, “Davies, T. and Edwards, D. (2012) ‘Emerging Implications of Open and Linked Data for Knowledge Sharing in Development’, IDS Bulletin 43 (5) 117-127” was published in the IDS Bulletin: “New Roles for Communication in Development?”. Ironically, considering it’s subject matter, is only partially open access (two free articles per issue). But you can access this article as green open access in Open Docs –

Duncan Edwards is ICT Innovations Manager in the Knowledge Services team at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). He has over 12 years experience working in the field of information systems to support the use of research knowledge within the development sector. He leads the development of the IDS Knowledge Services Application Programming Interface (API) which opens up the Eldis and Bridge datasets as Open Data, and works with partner organisations to make use of these, and other, datasets. This can involve technical capacity building but equally involves helping organisations work through their Theory of Change and how data might play a role in this change. He has particular interests in Open Data, Open Access, Open Government, Open Knowledge, participation, ICTs, innovation, and the role Openness can play in the construction and use of knowledge for positive social change. You can follow him on Twitter: @duncan_ids

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

The third in our series of guest posts by OKCon 2013 speakers is by Benjamin Wiederkehr, Interactive Things. Together with Sylke Gruhnwald he will co-present the Data Visualization Workshop ‘Storytelling through Data’ on Monday 16th September, 14.00 – 17:00. This workshop is supported by Pro Helvetia.

For the year of 2013, the editorial office of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung has set itself the target of establishing the standard in the field of data-driven journalism in Switzerland and to furthermore gain attention on an international level.

To be able to approach this ambitious goal in a sustainable and profitable way, it is not enough to simply distribute job titles and descriptions to employees. What is required is a fundamental change in the work of a publisher. The understanding concerning the content, the tools, and the working process will be developed in collaboration with the Interactive Things, a design studio focused on information visualization. Consequently, the editorial environment will be reshaped. These changes will be facilitated over the course of a series of experiments, which span across the complete spectrum of data-driven journalism.

Benjamin-Wiederkehr-How-to-turn-data-into-stories-4To kickstart the collaboration between Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Interactive Things, Benjamin Wiederkehr and his team conducted a workshop on how to work with data, how to gain the first insights quickly, and how to advance prototypes into more sophisticated visualizations. In return, the journalists conducted a workshop where all involved designers and developers learned how to identify the right stories to tell and how to construct them in an engaging way.

Now, halfway into the collaboration, Sylke Gruhnwald, data-driven reporter at Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Benjamin Wiederkehr, director of Interactive Things, will share insights about daily challenges and opportunities from the collaboration between journalists, designers, and developers.

Keine Zeit für Wut – NZZ

Benjamin Wiederkehr is an interaction designer with a focus on information visualization and interface design. He is founding partner and managing director of Interactive Things, an user experience design and data visualization studio he established in 2010 together with Christian Siegrist and Jeremy Stucki. The Zurich based team designs and implements interactive applications and visualizations for national and international clients including the UNDP, UNESCO, WEF, Mozilla and National Geographic. Interactive Things is also part of the Open Government Data task force in Switzerland and helps to facilitate an open access to government data for everyone.

Posted by & filed under News, OKCon.


We are glad to invite our attendees who haven’t been awarded a travel bursary and would benefit from a little help to join us at OKCon to apply for our Accommodation Subsidy Programme, providing a simple and basic accommodation solution for a price of 50 EUR per night.

Our accommodation subsidy offers:

  • 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 50 EUR per night (total for 3 nights: 150 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.

You can find further details, instructions and the submission form on the OKCon 2013 Accommodation Subsidies webpage. The OKCon Accommodation Subsidy Programme starts today (Tuesday 6th August) and ends on Monday 12th August, 23:59:59 GMT.

We are looking forward to receiving your applications. See you in Geneva next month!

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

The second in our series of guest posts by OKCon 2013 speakers is by Oluseun Onigbinde, Co-Founder/Lead Director BudgIT. He will be speaking at the Technology, Tools and Business session on Tuesday 17th September at 14:15, Room 13, Floor 2.

BudgIT-logoA key consideration in driving open data across the entire literacy chain is how to maximize the attention of users that are mostly interested in other social activities? How does BudgIT, my startup, derive useful actions from our easily sidetracked users? I have formulated five lessons, that form the core of the BudgIT strategy and I hope it will be valuable for friends working in transparency and accountability.

1. Data must be Actionable:

The core principle that defines the way we present data lies in simplicity and the ability to inspire action. BudgIT presentations like infographics, interactive applications or data access are defined by the goal to initiate action. This approach is about making data analysis self-revelatory to citizens in order to enable civil society to ask clearer questions and to initiate plans for action.

2. Educate the Citizens:

1124k13720686661988200x200BudgIT operates in the developing country of Nigeria where literacy is of utmost concern. Citizens need background information to ask questions. This necessitates a clearer definition of the terms surrounding the data, and for these to be published in creative formats. Based on research, getting as detailed as possible in our description of the context surrounding the data is critical for building a mass of followers that understand the subject of discussion. As an example, public finance items such as recurrent or capital expenditure are put in simplified definitions to encourage a basic understanding by the users.

3. An Incentive for Citizens:

Open Data needs to be citizen-centred. There needs to be a focus to build open data that is relevant to the individual and that touches on basic things that matters to him/her. If open data and its visualisations stay at the macro level and are not focused on citizens, it may well communicate too little. At BudgIT, public finance data is crunched to the extent that the citizen is aware of capital projects and revenue allocations within his/her immediate neighbourhood. A citizen is much more likely to harness the power of data, properly ask questions, or trigger a debate when granted access to such personalized information.

4. Tell A Story:

4324k13720922261988200x200Data Access must tell a story in order to stimulate a larger interest within the community. With visualizations built around it, it must shine a light in ?dark [don’t know what a winded corner is?] corners. It must bring forth the human angle within the stories and it must do so by converting the stack of information into a moving narrative that stimulates a sense of belonging in the user. For example, we go beyond telling our users that Nigeria’s oil revenue equates to billions of US Dollars. For such data to be meaningful to citizens, who make less than $5,000 annually, we rather describe the purchasing power of such huge amounts of oil revenue in terms relating to pressing community needs.

5. Get Feedback to Institutions:

Public data must be linked to a feedback system that allows citizens or users to reach elected officials, public servants and other stakeholders on the supply side. Debate, discussions and comments based on interactions with open data and its visualizations has to reach the required institution responsible for the data. As a creative open data startup, we have a feedback system in place that attaches itself to the head of the agency in charge of implementation, the legislator representing the area where the project is located and also the finance ministry expected to disburse the funds. Here lies the power of open data, when citizens believe that someone on the supply side gets connected with their concerns.

Budget Access at the Rural AreasThe above points are derived from my thoughts on driving open data in Nigeria, in order to amplify the citizens voices in their demand for institutional reform and improved services. The core task lies in harnessing open data for public usage and how it drives us to institutional reform, inclusive growth and improved services. Open data is a correctional tool and an enabler for a society that requires transparency, accountability, institutional efficiency and improved citizen engagement. A lot of work is needed, both on the supply side and on the demand side, so that open data can translate itself into societal improvements.

Short Biography of Oluseun Onigbinde as posted on
Oluseun Onigbinde has always been attached to the idea that data and research can be empowering mechanisms for change – something he credits his Engineering degree with confirming. After spending years in the financial sector providing critical analysis of budgets and strategic research to help banks perform better, Oluseun decided it was time to take a risk and apply these same principles to building a better country. But instead of providing analysis to managers of government, he thought that the key is to provide this budget analysis to the general public. Recognizing that the data does not actually come alive unless communicated effectively, Oluseun spends as much time focusing on data analysis as on finding creative and relevant ways to present and disseminate it.

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers, OKCon.

Introducing a series of guest posts by OKCon 2013 speakers that we will publish over the coming weeks. This first post is by Laura Meggiolaro, Land Portal Coordinator, International Land Coalition, who will be speaking on the main stage during the Open Development and Sustainability session on Wednesday 18th September at 10:15.

logo-land-portal-transparenThere is a wealth of information and data online about land governance. However, much of this content is fragmented and difficult to locate, and often it is not openly licensed to enable wide dissemination and reuse. Bringing this information together in one place, actively addressing gaps in the available information, and providing a range of ways for the information to be accessed and shared does increase use of the available information. This supports more informed debates and policy making, and greater adoption and scaling up of best practices and promising innovations, leading to improved land governance practice. Through a focus on localisation of content creation and use, the Land Portal aims at tipping the balance of power towards the most marginalised and insecure, promoting greater social justice in land tenure practices across the world.

Access to knowledge is essential for individuals and communities seeking to secure land rights, particularly for women. Stronger networks between government agencies, CSOs, the private sector and emerging social movements are needed to support more just, equitable and gender-aware land governance. Over recent decades, land governance groups have come to use the Internet in their practice, but its full potential is by no means realized. The land Portal can support land advocacy and governance, drawing on learning from current practice, and highlighting emerging frontiers of relevance to the field.

Over the last several years, we discovered that online discussions, in particular, are an effective means of promoting inclusion, knowledge sharing and promoting social changes, while giving a voice to those who need it most. Online discussions bring together actors who are not likely to meet elsewhere. It can also help to promote strategic coordination and operational partnerships among initiatives

A recent online dialogue focused on monitoring women’s land rights in Madagascar, demonstrating that the Land Portal offers a collaborative approache to land governance as a platform for open content and open data.


Since Madagascar recently began debating its new progressive tenure reform, it provides an interesting case study to show how internet-based tools such as the Land Portal gives the opportunity to enhance participation and allow for a diversity of insights and perspectives on questions like “is land reform in Madagascar a model for replication?” or “how legal pluralism may restrict or promote women’s access to land?”.

The objective of the discussion on land reform was to generate involvement of civil society in debating experiences during the implementation of land reform policies and exploring key lessons that could be transferred to other countries. The discussion provides an interesting perspectives on how women’s access to land might be affected by legal pluralism, Including insights from Malagasy people or land experts in region who aim to revise and improve data on the FAO Gender and Land Rights database (GLRD).

A lesson we’ve learned from the online discussion about Malagasy women’s land rights is that some key people didn’t have access to the discussion due to difficulties to connect to the Internet. Computer skills may serve as a discriminatory factor towards effective and equitable access. Based on this lesson, we are exploring the idea of “discussion nodes”: each discussant group with the same interest will choose a local facilitator (= the one with computer skills) and others will develop common or personal messages to post. Discussion nodes will help CSOs not only to access the web, but also to better organize and structure consolidated advocacy. Each post to the discussion will be the output of active and consensus-based debate before posting.


In so doing, in addition to documenting land rights, the Portal would encourage social
exchange, debate and networking, while supporting more inclusive and informed debate and action on land governance, which may increase adoption and scaling up of best practices and emerging innovation on land tenure.

A partnership project supported by a network of international and grassroots land organisations focused on land governance, development and social justice, the Portal promotes an innovative approach by engaging stakeholders on this issue and ensures that stakeholders and users who are actively involved in land issues from far and wide coordinate, manage and populate it with content.

The LP is based on open source, open data and open content, and applies principles of openness in its governance, its use of technology and in its outputs. Through the pursuit of more transparent and open information on land governance, the Portal seeks to become a leading example of open development in action. However, the Land Portal does not adopt openness uncritically, but instead focuses in particular on identifying where openness can help tip the balance of power in favour of the marginalised, rather than where openness could ‘empower the already empowered’ (1.). The Land Portal seeks to ensure that a diversity of knowledge is included and represented, and that those best placed to act in the interests of those with the most insecure land rights and the greatest vulnerability to landlessness have effective access to the open data and knowledge that is made available.

(1.) Gurstein, M. (2011). Open data: Empowering the empowered or effective data use for everyone? (2.) Link to article

With almost 10 year work experience in the land governance sector collaborating with both UN Agencies and Civil Society Organizations in information and knowledge management, partnerships building and communication for development, Laura is strongly committed towards social change and the improvement of life conditions of disadvantaged groups within societies, focusing in particular on gender dynamics.
Since she has been assigned the overall Land Portal coordination in 2012, she has been promoting a major re-development of the Portal to better address its main target audiences, respond to the ever-evolving technological innovations and opportunities for better quality and reach, but also to increasingly make the Portal a hub for Open Data and a clear example of open development in action contributing to open land governance information and knowledge in order to increase transparency on land related issues.

Posted by & filed under News.

Open Knowledge and Open Data create many kinds of value in many kinds of ways. One very powerful way to create and capture that value is through startup companies, which is why we at OKCon embrace the startup community and can now offer a unique opportunity to young companies in the open data space: the Open Knowledge Conference Startup Package!

The package includes a table in OKCon’s exhibition space, a large name banner, three tickets, a mention on – huge opportunities for great conversations and good business, all for a €400 flat fee. Get in touch now to secure your slot, space is limited!

The first two startups who booked their Startup Package are ScraperWiki and from near Zurich aims to make a huge amounts of facts available to web and mobile apps with sub-second response times. They develop an elegant and expressive single unified query interface for large volumes of open data and take care of all data management, freeing developers to focus on integrating data into their applications, saving huge amounts of time. Check them out at!

ScraperWiki helps you do data science on the web. The silicon-valley style startup from Liverpool, UK, provides a web-based tool set to get, clean, analyze, visualize and manage data, with a special focus on all the “messy” data out there waiting to be structured and thus freed! The recently re-launched Scraperwiki integrates seamlessly with CKAN, the data publishing platform powering many of the world major open government data initiatives – try it out now!

Your startup is in the open data business as well? Then do hurry, get in touch and secure your startup space at OKCon right away! And think about using this opportunity to launch a product, release an awesome new feature or other breaking news: do it at OKCon and people that should know will, we’ll help!

Plus: there are still some very interesting sponsoring opportunities, especially for tech-oriented businesses, that will multiply your brand’s reach again. Presenting Partner of the Technology Track sounds good, for example? Then make sure to talk to us. We’re open for business.

Posted by & filed under News, OKCon.


* How to apply. Find the instructions and the submission form on the [OKCon 2013 Travel Bursaries webpage](
* Deadline. The deadline to submit your application is Sunday 14th July, 23:59:59 GMT.
* Questions? Feel welcome to contact
[email protected]

OKCon 2013 is happy to announce that we have received a grant to support travel bursaries to help some people with limited financial resources take part in the conference this September. A special thanks goes to the Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI), a Swiss charitable foundation within the Open Society Foundations, which helped to make this possible.

Our travel bursaries cover:

  • international travel and transport costs from your city of departure and back

  • accommodation (which we’ll be glad to book for you)

  • lunch at the conference venue on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th September.

You can find further details, instructions and the submission form on the [OKCon 2013 Travel Bursaries webpage](

The OKCon travel bursary programme **starts today (4th July)** and **ends on 14th July, at 23:59:59 GMT**. We are looking forward to receiving your applications!

Posted by & filed under News.



We received more than 300 proposals and selecting the submissions that we could fit in the 2-and-a-half-day schedule was a real challenge. We had to leave out several truly exciting applications and believe us, that wasn’t easy.

But today: here we are, ready to announce the list of selected proposals and our freshly updated programme! Please find them in our Call for Proposals and Schedule pages. Workshops, talks, lightning talks, panels, sessions and a selection of fine bars and clubs to bring on the conference discussions and working groups plans after dark.

Some highlights?


  • kick off afternoon with workshops – from Open Data Census to CKAN, a collaboration between The Engine Room and the Information Innovation Lab and a data viz hands-on session by Interactive Things
  • Law Mining Hackathon, first day (the hackathon will end on Thursday, 19th September), run by Christian Laux and Jean-Henry Morin
  • a selection of high-level Swiss speakers presenting the state of the art of open data in Switzerland
  • a session of talks from our global community focussing on open government with projects and presentations from Nepal, US, North Africa, Asia, Europe & more
  • launch of the Swiss Open Data Portal, a milestone for openness in Switzerland, and celebratory drinks


  • keynote lectures by Ellen Miller (Sunlight Foundation) and John Ellis (CERN)
  • Open Data, Government and Governance session: with Kimberly Roberson (UNHCR), Chris Taggart (OpenCorporates), Amparo Ballivian (World Bank) among the others
  • Technology, Tools and Business talks and panel: with speakers such as Francis Irving (ScraperWiki), Thomas Gauthier (Geneva School of Management/ Biometis), Khristine R. Custodio (GEF/UNEP/SEASTART IW:LEARN)
  • Open Science and Research session: with Victoria Stodden (Columbia University), Ernst Hafen (ETH Zurich), Kaitlin Thaney (Mozilla Science Lab), Puneet Kishor (Creative Commons)
  • LinkedUp Award Ceremony
  • Urban Data Challenge exhibition and vernissage


  • Open Development and Sustainability talks and panel: with Chris Vein (World Bank), Jack Townsend (University of Southampton), Florian Bauer (REEEP), Anahi Ayala Iacucci (Internews) and many more
  • Evidence and Stories: with Justin Arenstein, Federico Ramírez Corona (Fundar), Eva Vozarova (Fair-Play Alliance), Julia Keserű (Sunlight Foundation) and further speakers to be announced
  • Open Culture: with Anna Gold (Kennedy Library, California Polytechnic State University), Merete Sanderhoff (Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen), Building the Digital Commons Workshop team and the Open Humanities Award ceremony
  • a booming closing party, of course!

Thursday, day dedicated to satellite events around town, like:

  • Scholarly International Infrastructure Technical Summit
  • KNOWeSCAPE workshop, by Christophe Gueret
  • Is Open Source Drug Discovery Practical? Workshop run by Matthew Todd
  • Build a Better Transparency Technology Project: Lessons from the TAI mentors: panel with Sarah Schacht, Lucy Chambers (Open Knowledge Foundation), Gabriela Lula and Miriam McCarthy (Transparency and Accountability Initiative)
  • Law Mining Hackathon, final day and demos

Further details will come in the next few days and weeks, keep your eyes peeled!

Have you got your tickets yet? Now’s the time to buy, the Early Bird tickets are only on sale until 23rd June and after then the prices will rise.

We can’t wait to meet you all in Geneva, it’s going to be amazing!

Posted by & filed under Invited Speakers.

Victoria Stodden

We are proud and excited to introduce you to another one of our invited speakers who will join us at OKCon 2013: Victoria Stodden.

Known for her research and policy work on open data and reproducible science she is currently working as an assistant professor of Statistics at Columbia University and with the Columbia University Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. After pursuing degrees in Statistics and Law, her research has focused on the problem of enabling reproducibility in computational science. Victoria has developed the acclaimed “Reproducible Research Standard,” a suite of open licensing recommendations for the dissemination of computational results.

Video from Open Science Summit 2011: Victoria Stodden: – Transparency in Scientific Discovery: Innovation and Knowledge Dissemination

We are very much looking forward to hear Victoria’s talk at OKCon in September. We are sure it will inspire intense and inspired after-session discussions!

And how about you? Will you be there with us?

Early Bird tickets are available until 23rd June, 2013.
That’s a little more than ten days from now – time to get yours!

To find out more about Victoria Stodden: official biography, blog, Twitter.

Posted by & filed under OKCon. is the Swiss chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation. In September they will be co-hosting OKCon 2013 in Geneva. Hannes Gassert, vicepresident of, has agreed to introduce the Swiss Open Data community and what they have been doing so far


Switzerland is a place known for secrecy, not for openness. Our banks are discreet, privacy is paramount, and the recipes for our cheese we’ll never tell. On the other hand, there’s our cherished direct democracy, our most participatory political culture. And both ideas have roots going back centuries.

Our challenge today: how do we translate our system for a networked world, where transparency is so powerful and where mechanisms of participation are accelerated many fold. That’s where OKF Switzerland comes in.


Founded as in 2011, a group of experienced activists started out on a journey that is about to bring them to the center of the OKF network this fall: bringing the global Open Knowledge Conference to Geneva in September will be a major milestone for all of us.


Looking back, what the group has achieved so far was pretty Swiss indeed: five two-day hackathons, each taking place in one German- and one French-speaking city, each attracting 100+ developers, designers, policy makers and subject matter experts. And, as the Swiss love innovative graphic design, the design schools ZHdK and HEAD were more than happy to host them, as were the EPF Lausanne or the University of Berne. Each of those events had a specific topic: from transportation to health to finance and so on.


They freed the real-time railways API. They ventured into budget visualizations, comparative analysis of hospitals, built an Arduino signal light to tell you when to run for the bus, 3d-printed statistics into earrings and started international collaborations all the way to San Francisco. Participation was amazing, and it was a success – people loved it, the press loved it, and there will be more.


In parallel politics had to be dealt with: classic campaigning and lobbying in the Federal Palace, one-to-one discussions with lawmakers, parliamentary enquiries and alliances in administration had to be conducted in order to achieve a broad support throughout the political spectrum, from left-wing ministers to corporate think-tanks. Laws got changed, rules got adapted and Switzerland itself started to change.

Both in 2011 and 2012 held conferences with over 200 participants, bringing together the community and also creating links to the global Open Knowledge Foundation: Rufus Pollock and Nigel Shadbolt spoke at the event, and a multitude of academics, civil servants, hackers and makers joined in. During the Conference in 2012, they signed the agreement to officially join the OKF – and at the very same table the idea to bring the world of Open Knowledge to a special place where world leaders gather was born. Geneva, home of the United Nations, the Red Cross and CERN, where the World Wide Web was invented.

That event is coming closer and closer now – OKCon will take place in Geneva on 16th – 18th September, at Geneva’s International Conference Center. Now that might sound rather “Swiss” – as in expensive and a tad formal, but rest assured: this is going to be an event to remember, a global one that also shows a different kind of Swiss: great fun, truly participatory – and very open indeed.

André and Hannes, Beatrice and Sylvie, Magaly, Antoine, Giorgio, Matthias, Barnaby, Christian, Oleg, Andreas and Jan all are so, so excited to have all of you over and to meet you in person – see you in Geneva!

André GolliezHannes GassertSylvie ReinhardMagalyMathys Antoine LogeanGiorgio PaulettoMatthias StuermerBarnaby Skinner Christian LauxOleg LavrovskyAndreas AmslerJanZuppinger