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OKCon 2013 Guest Post: Connecting Open Resource Flows for Development

- September 5, 2013 in 2013, Geneva, Invited Speakers, OKCon, OKCon 2013, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Spending

To complete the dozen in our guest posts by OKCon speaker we asked Mark Brough to write something about the workshop ‘Connecting Open Resource Flows for Development’ in the Open Development & Sustainability programme, that he will present together with Anders Pedersen, Openspending on Monday 16 September, 17:15 – 18:45 @ Room 20, Floor 3.
Connecting Open Resource Flows for Development ugandabudgetAid, climate finance, extractives, government budgets, humanitarian aid, contracts and organisation identifiers: there are now a large range of initiatives to open up data on developmental resource flows. On 16th September at OKCon, we will be co-hosting a workshop on connecting open resource flows for development. There is a lot of discussion right now about joining up these different flows – in terms of interoperability of different standards at the technical level, as well as improved communication among advocates, publishers, and organisers of this data at the policy level. The workshop will focus more on the policy level; while many of those joining us have been heavily involved in the mechanics of standards for aid data through IATI, wrangling budget data into OpenSpending, and designing new standards for open contracts data, improving communication and learning between different initiatives is an important first step before beginning the work of developing, aligning and implementing standards. As you’d expect at OKCon, the workshop is intended to be open and participatory, and we’re encouraging all organisations to give short (2 minute) presentations at the start about their own area of work and how it might overlap with that of others. We’ll then consider what questions we can begin to answer by connecting data together, and discuss shared challenges and opportunities. Finally, we will begin to discuss how the data could be joined up in practice – through the identification of existing standards, initiatives and opportunities for making it happen. If you’re interested in coming along then please get in touch. You’ll be very welcome, regardless of your area of interest and level of expertise (the conversation is likely to be detailed, but not technical). The more participants we have the more lively the discussion and chances to share experience so we hope you’ll join us. More details: Google Doc
Mark Brough is the Aid Information Advisor at Publish What You Fund, the global campaign for aid transparency. He leads on developing technology and advocacy tools, including the Aid Transparency Tracker, which assesses the quality of donors’ aid data as part of the forthcoming 2013 Index, and a visualisation of aid to Uganda mapped onto Uganda’s budget.

OKCon 2013 Guest Post: How Linked Open Data supports Sustainable Development & Climate Change Development

- September 4, 2013 in 2013, Denise Recheis, Florian Bauer, Geneva, Invited Speakers, Jens Laustsen, OKCon, OKCon 2013, Open Development, Open Knowledge Foundation, Sustainability

Guest post number eleven in the OKCon speaker series is from Florian Bauer, Denise Recheis and Martin Kaltenböck. They have organized and will be holding the workshop ‘How Linked Open Data (LOD) supports Sustainable Development & Climate Change Development’ in the Open Development & Sustainability programme, on Wednesday 18 September, 11:45 – 13:15 @ Room 8, Floor 2. Get in touch with them now to register your place! 
How Linked Open Data (LOD) supports Sustainable Development & Climate Change Development The idea of using LOD first emerged as a useful technology for data and information management in the health sector as an area where many different aspects need to be combined to create a bigger picture. Sustainable development is another such complex area where many factors are needed to make informed decisions. For both, LOD brings better decision making as well as awareness building. reegle-lod-cloudOften these snippets of information are retrieved across different research fields and later stored in hundreds of different information silos that are not connected to each other. The same can be said about modern energy systems that combine new and conventional sources of energy, centralized and on-site generation and a complex distribution infrastructure. Again, a lot of data is needed to smooth the way for the transition towards clean energy. Ambitious targets are already in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase access to sustainable energy for more people at the same time. We seriously lag behind in reaching these goals and often find that what’s missing is often proper access to essential information. Such information arrives too late, has not been processed to a useful format or is simply not available for open use and re-use. We believe that the LOD principles are the right mechanism & technology that can support our efforts to tackle these global issues. Today networking is being accepted as a crucial part of development, and that can also be said about networked, linked information/data. Linked Open Data is often described as Open Data interlinked with other datasets. Going from link to link, connections that may not be obvious instantly are drawn together – a bit like the introduction of hyperlinks now connects many pages on the web across different websites and allows the user to dive deeply into a subject. Only in the case with LOD, it’s the machine that can dive into this knowledge and provide the user with tailored results to tackle problems. Right now, many of those who need data to make informed decisions have caught on to the logical benefits of (linked) open data. More convincing needs to be done to see more relevant data being released in a way (format, license, links) that makes it valuable in the quest to tackle global, complex problems. “Concerns about opening up data, and responses which have proved effective” by Christopher Gutteridge, University of Southampton and Alexander Dutton, University of Oxford has put together all the usual thick-as-a-brick arguments and proposed solutions and answers. Classics include being worried about misinterpretation of the data, data not being very interesting, and possible future use in a research paper, as well as technical, legal and financial concerns. The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) and the Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN) are two organizations active in the promotion of clean energy and energy efficiency and have embraced LOD as a means to accelerate their work and strengthen their networks. GBPN provides its building efficiency data in this format to ensure that the information can be used in relevant contexts as they arise. REEEP is using available open data to draw together country dossiers focusing of clean energy in its information portal and also sees its role as a broker between information providers and users. The Semantic Web Company (SWC) has been working in the field on semantic web technologies for many years and has helped making this state-of-the-art way of working with data accessible to several organizations in the energy and sustainability sector. All three organisations see sustainable development as an excellent way to showcase the benefits of LOD, and therefore have joined forces to organise a workshop at this years Open Knowledge Conference to highlight use-cases of Linked Open Data and discuss lessons learnt.

Florian Bauer, Operations & IT Director, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership
Denise Recheis, Knowledge Manager REEEP
Jens Laustsen, Technical Director, Global Buildings Performance Network, Martin Kaltenböck, Managing Partner, Semantic Web Company

OKCon 2013 Guest Post: New approaches to working with information for advocacy

- September 3, 2013 in 2013, Geneva, Invited Speakers, OKCon, OKCon 2013, Open Knowledge Foundation

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). Fish
(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. welcomes you to OKCon 2013 in Geneva!

- June 7, 2013 in 2013, Geneva, OKCon, OKCon 2013, OpendataCH, Switzerland 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 schweiz-masse 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. OpendataLogo 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. Background 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. hackdays1hackdays2hackdays4 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. hackdays3trainshareup-web 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

OKCon 2013 Invited Speakers: John Ellis

- June 3, 2013 in 2013, CERN, Geneva, Invited Speakers, John Ellis, LHC, OKCon, OKCon 2013

[Photo: CERN] We are excited to announce that Professor John Ellis (CERNKing’s College London) will be one of the keynote speakers at OKCon 2013. John Ellis is one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists, and also a great communicator. He has been influential in setting CERN’s strategic direction and contributed to the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson. John Ellis is a strong advocate of involving non-European nations in CERN scientific activities. OKCon 2013 is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, which means the conference will be held only a few kilometers away from CERN and the LHC – Large Hadron Collider. CERN has always been considered a pioneer in the open science movement and a strong supporter of the open access movement: open source software has been developed at CERN for decades; Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web while working for CERN when trying to improve the information management system of the LHC. Video from BOLDtalks 2013: John Ellis, The significance of the Higgs Boson discovery. We are certain that John Ellis’ talk will be a great inspiration to remind everyone why openness in science really matters: because – as CERN has recently proven – it helps reveal the deeper beauty of our universe. We hope you will join us for this and many other exciting presentations at OKCon 2013. Early Bird tickets are now on sale and will be available until June 23rd, 2013. Buy yours now!

OKCon 2013 Event Update

- May 31, 2013 in 2013, blog, Events, Geneva, News, OKCon, OKCon 2013, Switzerland

The OKCon 2013 conference on Open Data – Broad, Deep, Connected is being held in Geneva, Switzerland in September. OKF Events and Marketing Team Beatrice Martini and Elaine Shaughnessy have been to check out the venue and to meet up with our colleagues from – Andre Golliez, Hannes Gassert and Jan Zuppinger and with Sylvie Reinhard and Magaly Mathys from Lift Events. The venue is at the CICG Conference Centre and is a great space for listening to our keynote speakers and engaging with the programme and for community workshops, exhibitions and events. Participants will have an area where they can give a ‘stand up/pop up show’ to talk about their own projects and ideas.  There will also be challenges and competitions and a preview of the Urban Data Challenge exhibition, a 3-city transportation data challenge between the cities of Geneva, Zurich and San Francisco. GCIG Conference Centre, Geneva We had discussions on the programme and were really excited that there were already over 200 great responses to the Call for Proposals.  They were so good that the deadline was extended until tonight (at 23:59 BST)! Also exciting is that the keynote speakers are confirming their attendance – so keep your eyes on the blog as Jan will be posting some speaker profiles next week. We thank the Swiss team for their hospitality and for helping us check out Geneva’s attractions including a very charming jazz bar and an evening apero sitting in the sun alongside the river Rhone. GVA_crop

Extending The Call For Volunteers Until 2nd June

- May 30, 2013 in 2013, Geneva, OKCon, OKCon 2013, Volunteers

Welcome Reception
  • What. Volunteering at OKCon 2013
  • When & where. 16th-18th September 2013, Geneva, Switzerland.
  • How. Find the call and the submission form here
  • Deadline. The deadline to submit your application is 2nd June, 23:59:59 GMT.
We are very grateful for the huge response to our original Call for Volunteers and for the amazing applications that we received. However, many of the applications came from people offering their editorial skills and we need some more hands-on people, for all the practical tasks, that need to be covered during OKCon 2013. We also hope to receive some more applications from Switzerland and neighbouring countries. This is why we have extended our Call for Volunteers until 2nd June. This is your last chance to join us! If you are interested and available from 16th to 18th September 2013, please apply on the OKCon Call for Volunteers webpage. Deadline for the applications is Sunday, 2nd June at 23:59:59 GMT. We look forward to receiving your application!

OKCon 2013 Call for Proposals deadline extended to 31st May!

- May 23, 2013 in 2013, Geneva, OKCon, OKCon 2013, Switzerland, Volunteers

pre OGDcamp 2011 preparations
  • Event. OKCon 2013 – 17th-18th September 2013, Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Call for Proposals. Find the call, FAQs and the submission form on the OKCon 2013 Call for Proposal webpage.
  • Deadline. New deadline to submit your proposals is May 31st, 23:59:59 GMT. Results will be published by 17th June, 23:59:59 GMT.
  • Tickets. Early Bird tickets are on sale until 23rd June!
Dear OKF community, You left us speechless. The OKCon Call for Proposals is due to end tomorrow and you’re filling up our mailboxes (and our spreadsheets) with dozens of amazing ideas and actions plus sending us e-mails to asking for last-minute information, Twitter messages to have hints about the best way to present a talk, and what’s the right field for it in the form? So, excited by your enthusiasm and contagious energy, we have decided to extend the Call’s deadline. You have one more week! New deadline: 31st May. And this time we’re serious. Keep sending your most brilliant and groundbreaking proposals. We’re looking forward to reviewing them all!

OKCON 2013 Invited Speakers: Ellen Miller

- May 17, 2013 in 2013, Ellen Miller, Geneva, Invited Speakers, OKCon, OKCon 2013

EllenMiller_Press_sm We’re glad to announce that Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, will be one of our keynote speakers at OKCon 2013.
As co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, Ellen Miller advocates the use of the internet to inspire greater openness and transparency in government. She founded two further organisations, the Center for Responsive Politics and Public Campaign, that focus their activities in the fields of money and politics. Ellen Miller can look back at a career of 35 years advocating non-profit advocacy, grassroots activism and journalism. From a recently published blog post by Mrs Miller, On the Topic of Open Government and Open Data:
Sunlight believes in open data and open government not because these are abstract goods, but because we want to make government more accountable to ordinary people and less subservient to well-connected special interests. We think it’s great that more consumer-facing data will be opened up by the Obama administration (aka “smart disclosure”), and we want the “operating system” of government open and free, along with many others. And to be sure, there are many additional benefits to be had from opening up government data including increasing efficiency, reducing waste, creating new business opportunities and empowering consumers. But we remain insistent that a central if not the core goal of the transparency movement must be to shift power from the few to the many, by making all the information about who is trying to influence the process and what they get out the other end more accessible to all.

From the Gov 2.0 Summit 2010, from her talk Open Government Scorecard:
We can’t wait to attend her talk at OKCon in September! And we’ll be happy to have you joining us, too. Early Bird tickets are now on sale and will be available until June 23rd, 2013. Buy yours now!

Welcome to the OKCon 2013 Blog!

- March 23, 2013 in 2013, blog, Geneva, News, OKCon, OKCon 2013, Switzerland, Twitter

OKFest 2012: Press Event Welcome to the OKCon 2013 Blog!
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