The Myth of Blubber Town, an Arctic Metropolis

- July 10, 2019 in arctic, blubber, blubber town, Culture & History, Dutch whaling, exaggeration, Featured Articles, legend, smeerenburg, whaling

Though the 17th-century whaling station of Smeerenburg was in reality, at it's height, just a few dwellings and structures for processing blubber, over the decades and centuries a more extravagant picture took hold — that there once had stood, defying its far-flung Arctic location, a bustling urban centre complete with bakeries, churches, gambling dens, and brothels. Matthew H. Birkhold explores the legend.

Open Knowledge Japanの7周年と再スタート

- July 10, 2019 in Featured, mydata, News, OKJP, オープン・ナレッジ, オープンデータ

Open Data Open Minds 2019年7月1日、私たちオープン・ナレッジ・ジャパン(OKJP)は、前身である任意団体の設立から7周年を迎えました。 7年前、私たちは国内でおそらく初めての行政オープンデータの活用を謳ったハッカソンを開催していました。7年というのはそれなりに長い時間ですが、この7年間で政府のオープンデータカタログサイトができ、データの公開が進んでいます。また、573もの地方自治体がオープンデータの提供を行うようになりました。官民データ活用を進める法律もできました。毎年、オープンデータデイには世界で最も多くのイベントが開催され、さまざまなアプリやサービス、活用事例が日々生まれています。さらに今年は首相が世界に向けて “Data Free Flow with Trust”を提唱するようになりました。とても大きな進展です。 OKJP 改めて、私たちの掲げているミッションを確認します。「データの活用を通じて人の行動やシステムの挙動が、より洗練され事実に基づいたものとなり、経済、人々の生活、民主主義、学術研究などの質が向上した社会を実現する」です。データを活用し社会をよりよくしていきたい、という理想に向けた道のりの、まだ途中に私たちはいます。 近年、OKJPは個人中心のパーソナルデータ活用を進める「MyData」の運動と、行政と市民が協働によって地域のガバナンスを改善していく「チャレンジ!オープンガバナンス(COG)」の活動を強く支援してきました。おかげさまでどちらの活動も活性化しており、それぞれ新たに一般社団法人が立ち上がりました。OKJPとしては今後も、MyData とCOGの活動を応援していきます。 そして、改めて原点に立ち戻り、「オープンデータトーク」や「オープンデータデイ」などOpen Data / Open Knowledge を志向した活動をリブートしていきます。しばらく募集をしていなかった賛助会員の募集も再開します。ぜひ、この機会にオープン・ナレッジ・ジャパン(OKJP)の活動にご参加ください。2019/7/29(月)夜に社員総会も予定しており、賛助会員のみなさまからのご意見をもとに今後の活動方針を決めて参ります。募集要領は会員募集ページをご参照ください。 さらなるご支援と協働をよろしくお願いいたします。 一般社団法人オープン・ナレッジ・ファウンデーション・ジャパン
(Open Knowledge Japan: OKJP)
代表理事 庄司昌彦

Optics Illustrations from the Physics Textbooks of Amédée Guillemin (1868/1882)

- July 9, 2019 in Amédée Guillemin, color, colour, crystals, light, optics, physics, René Henri Digeon

Illustrations from the 19th-century physics text books of Amédée Guillemin.

Missed opportunities in the EU’s revised open data and re-use of public sector information directive

- July 9, 2019 in European Union, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Research

Published by the European Union on June 26th, the revised directive on open data and the re-use of public sector information – or PSI Directive – set out an updated set of rules relating to public sector documents, publicly funded research data and “high-value” datasets which should be made available for free via application programming interfaces or APIs. EU member states have until July 2021 to incorporate the directive into law.  While Open Knowledge Foundation is encouraged to see some of the new provisions, we have concerns – many of which we laid out in a 2018 blogpost – about missed opportunities for further progress towards a fair, free and open future across the EU. Open data stickers Lack of public input Firstly, the revised directive gives responsibility for choosing which high-value datasets to publish over to member states but there are no established mechanisms for the public to provide input into the decisions.  Broad thematic categories – geospatial; earth observation and environment; meteorological; statistics; companies and company ownership; and mobility – are set out for these datasets but the specifics will be determined over the next two years via a series of further implementing acts. Datasets eventually deemed to be high-value shall be made “available free of charge … machine readable, provided via APIs and provided as a bulk download, where relevant”. Despite drawing on our Global Open Data Index to generate a preliminary list of high-value datasets, this decision flies in the face of years of findings from the Index showing how important it is for governments to engage with the public as much and as early as possible to generate awareness and increase levels of reuse of open data. We fear that this could lead to a further loss of public trust by opening the door for special interests, lobbyists and companies to make private arguments against the release of valuable datasets like spending records or beneficial ownership data which is often highly disaggregated and allows monetary transactions to be linked to individuals. Partial definition of high-value data Secondly, defining the value of data is also not straightforward. Papers from Oxford University, to Open Data Watch and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data demonstrate disagreement about what data’s “value” is. What counts as high-value data should not only be based on quantitative indicators such as potential income generation, breadth of business applications or numbers of beneficiaries – as the revised directive sets out – but also use qualitative assessments and expert judgment from multiple disciplines. Currently less than a quarter of the data with the biggest potential for social impact is available as truly open data even from countries seen as open data leaders, according to the latest Open Data Barometer report from our colleagues at the World Wide Web Foundation. Why? Because “governments are not engaging enough with groups beyond the open data and open government communities”.   Lack of clarity on recommended licenses Thirdly, in line with the directive’s stated principle of being “open by design and by default”, we hope to see countries avoiding future interoperability problems by abiding by the requirement to use open standard licences when publishing these high-value datasets. It’s good to see that the EU Commission itself has recently adopted Creative Commons licences when publishing its own documents and data.  But we feel – in line with our friends at Communia – that the Commission should have made clear exactly which open licences they endorsed under the updated directive, by explicitly recommending the adoption of Open Definition compliant licences from Creative Commons or Open Data Commons to member states. The directive also missed the opportunity to give preference to public domain dedication and attribution licences in accordance with the EU’s own LAPSI 2.0 licensing guidelines, as we recommended. The European Data Portal indicates that there could be up to 90 different licences currently used by national, regional, or municipal governments. Their quality assurance report also shows that they can’t automatically detect the licences used to publish the vast majority of datasets published by open data portals from EU countries. If they can’t work this out, the public definitely won’t be able to: meaning that any and all efforts to use newly-released data will be restrained by unnecessarily onerous reuse conditions. The more complicated or bespoke the licensing, the more likely data will end up unused in silos, our research has shown. 27 of the 28 EU member states may now have national open data policies and portals but, once discovered, it is currently likely that – in addition to confusing licencing – national datasets lack interoperability. For while the EU has substantial programmes of work on interoperability under the European Interoperability Framework, they are not yet having a major impact on the interoperability of open datasets. Open Knowledge Foundation research report: Avoiding data use silos More FAIR data Finally, we welcome the provisions in the directive obliging member states to “[make] publicly funded research data openly available following the principle of open by default and compatible with FAIR principles.” We know there is much work to be done but hope to see wide adoption of these rules and that the provisions for not releasing publicly-funded data due to “confidentiality” or “legitimate commercial interests” will not be abused. The next two years will be a crucial period to engage with these debates across Europe and to make sure that EU countries embrace the directive’s principle of openness by default to release more, better information and datasets to help citizens strive towards a fair, free and open future.

Missed opportunities in the EU’s revised open data and re-use of public sector information directive

- July 9, 2019 in European Union, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Research

Published by the European Union on June 26th, the revised directive on open data and the re-use of public sector information – or PSI Directive – set out an updated set of rules relating to public sector documents, publicly funded research data and “high-value” datasets which should be made available for free via application programming interfaces or APIs. EU member states have until July 2021 to incorporate the directive into law.  While Open Knowledge Foundation is encouraged to see some of the new provisions, we have concerns – many of which we laid out in a 2018 blogpost – about missed opportunities for further progress towards a fair, free and open future across the EU. Open data stickers Lack of public input Firstly, the revised directive gives responsibility for choosing which high-value datasets to publish over to member states but there are no established mechanisms for the public to provide input into the decisions.  Broad thematic categories – geospatial; earth observation and environment; meteorological; statistics; companies and company ownership; and mobility – are set out for these datasets but the specifics will be determined over the next two years via a series of further implementing acts. Datasets eventually deemed to be high-value shall be made “available free of charge … machine readable, provided via APIs and provided as a bulk download, where relevant”. Despite drawing on our Global Open Data Index to generate a preliminary list of high-value datasets, this decision flies in the face of years of findings from the Index showing how important it is for governments to engage with the public as much and as early as possible to generate awareness and increase levels of reuse of open data. We fear that this could lead to a further loss of public trust by opening the door for special interests, lobbyists and companies to make private arguments against the release of valuable datasets like spending records or beneficial ownership data which is often highly disaggregated and allows monetary transactions to be linked to individuals. Partial definition of high-value data Secondly, defining the value of data is also not straightforward. Papers from Oxford University, to Open Data Watch and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data demonstrate disagreement about what data’s “value” is. What counts as high-value data should not only be based on quantitative indicators such as potential income generation, breadth of business applications or numbers of beneficiaries – as the revised directive sets out – but also use qualitative assessments and expert judgment from multiple disciplines. Currently less than a quarter of the data with the biggest potential for social impact is available as truly open data even from countries seen as open data leaders, according to the latest Open Data Barometer report from our colleagues at the World Wide Web Foundation. Why? Because “governments are not engaging enough with groups beyond the open data and open government communities”.   Lack of clarity on recommended licenses Thirdly, in line with the directive’s stated principle of being “open by design and by default”, we hope to see countries avoiding future interoperability problems by abiding by the requirement to use open standard licences when publishing these high-value datasets. It’s good to see that the EU Commission itself has recently adopted Creative Commons licences when publishing its own documents and data.  But we feel – in line with our friends at Communia – that the Commission should have made clear exactly which open licences they endorsed under the updated directive, by explicitly recommending the adoption of Open Definition compliant licences from Creative Commons or Open Data Commons to member states. The directive also missed the opportunity to give preference to public domain dedication and attribution licences in accordance with the EU’s own LAPSI 2.0 licensing guidelines, as we recommended. The European Data Portal indicates that there could be up to 90 different licences currently used by national, regional, or municipal governments. Their quality assurance report also shows that they can’t automatically detect the licences used to publish the vast majority of datasets published by open data portals from EU countries. If they can’t work this out, the public definitely won’t be able to: meaning that any and all efforts to use newly-released data will be restrained by unnecessarily onerous reuse conditions. The more complicated or bespoke the licensing, the more likely data will end up unused in silos, our research has shown. 27 of the 28 EU member states may now have national open data policies and portals but, once discovered, it is currently likely that – in addition to confusing licencing – national datasets lack interoperability. For while the EU has substantial programmes of work on interoperability under the European Interoperability Framework, they are not yet having a major impact on the interoperability of open datasets. Open Knowledge Foundation research report: Avoiding data use silos More FAIR data Finally, we welcome the provisions in the directive obliging member states to “[make] publicly funded research data openly available following the principle of open by default and compatible with FAIR principles.” We know there is much work to be done but hope to see wide adoption of these rules and that the provisions for not releasing publicly-funded data due to “confidentiality” or “legitimate commercial interests” will not be abused. The next two years will be a crucial period to engage with these debates across Europe and to make sure that EU countries embrace the directive’s principle of openness by default to release more, better information and datasets to help citizens strive towards a fair, free and open future.

Συν-δημιουργώντας το «σήμερα» και το «αύριο» της κοινωνικής καινοτομίας

- July 8, 2019 in Featured, Εκδηλώσεις

Η 10η Διεθνής Συνάντηση «Ζωντανών Εργαστηρίων» (Living Labs), έρχεται για πρώτη φορά στην Ελλάδα από το Εργαστήριο Ιατρικής Φυσικής του ΑΠΘ. Open Living Lab Days Conference 2019: 3-5 Σεπτεμβρίου 2019, Μέγαρο Μουσικής Θεσσαλονίκης (Κτίριο Μ2) Ποτέ ο σχεδιασμός καινοτόμων προϊόντων και υπηρεσιών που να καλύπτουν τις  καθημερινές ανάγκες των πολιτών δεν ήταν τόσο προσιτός από […]

Save-the-Date: Open Data Hackdays November 29-30

- July 5, 2019 in event, Tourism

Episode 01: Tourism

Friday 29th to Saturday 30th November 

@Lucerne Laboratorium

What is it about?

In this very first episode of the Open Hackdays Lucerne edition, we’re all about exploring tourism data in Switzerland.  Tourism in Switzerland is an important economic engine and key to many Swiss incomes. Our members represent local companies, leading institutions and industry organizations in Switzerland’s tourism field. Let’s create new solutions that have the potential to disrupt tourism in Switzerland, create mind blowing happenings and make the industry more transparent, social and sustainable.

Who are we?

We are students currently seeking our master’s degree in Applied Information and Data Science at the Lucerne University of Applied Science and Arts.  We are eager to join forces with developers, designers, economists, engineers, travel enthusiasts, special sauces and anybody else interested out there.

We look forward to meeting you!

Open Data, Open Entry, Open Innovation. Be prepared for an inspirational location, plenty of brainfood, exciting datasets, a motivated crowd and diverse know-how and knowledge from all around the world. 

Are you interested in taking part in this event? Attendance is limited, so save the date and register now!

Fabre’s Book of Insects (1921)

- July 4, 2019 in animals, Entomogical Memoirs, insects, Jean-Henri Fabre

Book of Insects: An Alphabet of Floral Emblems (London; New York: T. Nelson and Sons, 1857) In the first chapter of his Book of Insects, Jean-Henri Fabre (1823–1915) introduces the reader to his workshop — which is to say his home — located on a pebbly expanse of land near the Provençal village of Sérignan […]

Meet our 2019 Frictionless Data Tool Fund grantees

- July 4, 2019 in Featured, Frictionless Data

In order to facilitate reproducible data workflows in research contexts, we recently launched the Frictionless Data Tool Fund. This one-time $5,000 grant attracted over 90 applications from researchers, developers, and data managers from all over the world. We are very excited to announce the four grantees for this round of funding, and have included a short description of each grantee and their project in this announcement. For a more in depth profile of each grantee and their Tool Fund projects, as well as information about how the community can help contribute to their work, follow the links in each profile to learn more. We look forward to sharing their work on developing open source tooling for reproducible research built using the Frictionless Data specifications and software.   

Stephan Max

Stephan Max is a computer scientist based in Cologne, Germany, that is passionate about making the web a fair, open, and safe place for everybody. Outside of work, Stephan has contributed to the German OKF branch as a mentor for the teenage hackathon weekends project “Jugend Hackt” (Youth Hacks). Stephan’s Tool Fund project will be to create a Data Package import/export add-on to Google Sheets.
“How can we feed spreadsheets back into a Reproducible Research pipeline? I think Data Packages is a brilliant format to model and preserve exactly that information.”

Read more about Stephan and the Google Sheets Data Package add-on here.  

Carlos Ribas and João Peschanski

João Alexandre Peschanski and Carlos Eduardo Ribas work with the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat), from the São Paulo Research Foundation. They are focused on developing open-source computational tools to advance open knowledge, open science, and scientific dissemination. They will be using the Tool Fund to work on the Neuroscience Experiments System (NES), which is an open-source tool that aims to assist neuroscience research laboratories in routine procedures for data collection.
“The advantages of the Frictionless Data approach for us is fundamentally to be able to standardize data opening and sharing within the scientific community.”
Read more about Carlos, João, and NES here.  

André Heughebaert

André Heughebaert is an IT Software Engineer at the Belgian Biodiversity Platform and is the Belgian GBIF Node manager. As an Open Data advocate, André works with GBIF and the Darwin Core standards and related Biodiversity tools to support publication and re-use of Open Data. André’s Tool Fund project will automatically convert Darwin Core Archive into Frictionless Data Packages. 
“I do hope Frictionless and GBIF communities will help me with issuing/tracking and solving incompatibilities, and also to build up new synergies.”
Read more about André and the Darwin Core Data Package project here.  

Greg Bloom and Shelby Switzer

Shelby Switzer and Greg Bloom work with Open Referral, which develops data standards and open source tools for health, human, and social services. Shelby is a long-time civic tech contributor, and Greg is the founder of the Open Referral Initiative. For the Tool Fund, they will be building out Data Package support for all their interfaces, from the open source tools that transform and validate human services data to the Human Services API Specification.
“With the Frictionless Data approach, we can more readily work with data from different sources, with varying complexity, in a simple CSV format, while preserving the ability to easily manage transformation and loading.”
Read more about Greg, Shelby, and their Tool Fund project here.  

More About Frictionless Data

The Tool Fund is part of the Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research project at Open Knowledge Foundation. This project, funded by the Sloan Foundation, applies our work in Frictionless Data to data-driven research disciplines. Frictionless Data is a set of specifications for data and metadata interoperability, accompanied by a collection of software libraries that implement these specifications, and a range of best practices for data management. The Tool Fund projects will be running through the end of 2019, and we will post updates to the projects as they progress.

The False Young Man (1937)

- July 2, 2019 in Abner Boggs, alan lomax, false young man, henry lee, love, love henry, murder, young hunting

Recording by the legendary musicologist Alan Lomax of Abner Boggs singing a heartrending rendition of this popular murder ballad.