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Lessons learned from organising the first ever virtual csv,conf

- June 17, 2020 in #CSVconf, Events, Open Knowledge, Open Knowledge Foundation

This blogpost was collaboratively written by the csv,conf organising team which includes Lilly Winfree and Jo Barratt from the Open Knowledge Foundation. csv,conf is supported by the Sloan Foundation as part of our Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research grant.

A brief history

csv,conf is a community conference that brings diverse groups together to discuss data topics, and features stories about data sharing and data analysis from science, journalism, government, and open source. Over the years we have had over a hundred different talks from a huge range of speakers, most of which you can still watch back on our YouTube Channel.

csv,conf,v1 took place in Berlin in 2014 and we were there again for v2 in 2016 before we moved across the Atlantic for v3 and v4 which were held in Portland, Oregon in the United States in 2017 and 2019. For csv,conf,v5, we were looking forward to our first conference in Washington DC, but unfortunately, like many other in-person events, this was not going to be possible in 2020. People have asked us about our experience moving from a planned in-person event to one online, in a very short space of time, so we are sharing our story with the hope that it will be helpful to others, as we move into a world where online events and conferences are going to be more prevalent than ever. The decision to take the conference online was not an easy one. Until quite late on, the question csv,conf organisers kept asking each other was not “how will we run the conference virtually?” but “will we need to cancel?“. As the pandemic intensified, this decision was taken out of our hands and it became quickly clear that cancelling our event in Washington D.C. was not only the responsible thing to do, but the only thing we could do.

Weighing the decision to hold csv,conf,v5 online

Once it was clear that we would not hold an in-person event, we deliberated on whether we would hold an online event, postpone, or cancel.

Moving online – The challenge

One of our main concerns was whether we would be able to encapsulate everything good about csv,conf in a virtual setting – the warmth you feel when you walk into the room, the interesting side conversations, and the feeling of being reunited with old friends, and naturally meeting new ones were things that we didn’t know whether we could pull off. And if we couldn’t, did we want to do this at all?

We were worried about keeping a commitment to speakers who had made a commitment themselves. But at the same time we were worried speakers may not be interested in delivering something virtually, or that it would not have the same appeal. It was important to us that there was value to the speakers, and at the start of this process we were committed to making this happen. Many of us have experience running events both in person and online, but this was bigger. We had some great advice and drew heavily on the experience of others in similar positions to us. But it still felt like this was different. We were starting from scratch and for all of our preparation, right up to the moment we pressed ‘go live’ inside Crowdcast, we simply didn’t know whether it was going to work. But what we found was that hard work, lots of planning and support of the community made it work. There were so many great things about the format that surprised and delighted us. We now find ourselves asking whether an online format is in fact a better fit for our community, and exploring what a hybrid conference might look like in the future.

Moving online – The opportunity

There were a great many reasons to embrace a virtual conference. Once we made the decision and started to plan, this became ever clearer. Not least was the fact that an online conference would give many more people the opportunity to attend. We work hard every year to reduce the barriers to attendance where possible and we’re grateful to our supporters here, but our ability to support conference speakers is limited and it is also probably the biggest cost year-on-year. We are conscious that barriers to entry still apply to a virtual conference, but they are different and it is clear that for csv,conf,v5 more people who wanted to join could be part of it. Csv,conf is normally attended by around 250 people. The in-person conferences usually fill up with just a few attendees under capacity. It feels the right size for our community. But this year we had over 1,000 registrations. More new people could attend and there were also more returning faces.


Attendees joined csv,conf,v5’s opening session from around the world

Planning an online conference

Despite the obvious differences, much about organising a conference remains the same whether virtual or not. Indeed, by the time we by the time we made the shift to an online conference, much of this work had been done.

Organising team

From about September 2019, the organising team met up regularly every few weeks on a virtual call. We reviewed our list of things and assigned actions. We used a private channel on Slack for core organisers to keep updated during the week.

We had a good mix of skills and interests on the organising team from community wranglers to writers and social media aces. We would like to give a shout out to the team of local volunteers we had on board to help with DC-specific things. In the end this knowledge just wasn’t needed for the virtual conf. We recruited a group of people from the organising team to act as the programme committee. This group would be responsible for running the call for proposals (CFP) and selecting the talks. We relied on our committed team of organisers for the conference and we found it helpful to have very clear roles/responsibilities to help manage the different aspects of the ‘live’ conference. We had a host who introduced speakers, a Q&A/chat monitor, a technical helper and a Safety Officer/Code of Conduct enforcer at all times. It was also helpful to have “floaters” who were unassigned to a specific task, but could help with urgent needs.

Selecting talks

We were keen on making it easy for people to complete the call for proposals. We set up a Google form and asked just a few simple questions. All talks were independently reviewed and scored by members of the committee and we had a final meeting to review our scores and come up with a final list. We were true to the scoring system, but there were other things to consider. Some speakers had submitted several talks and we had decided that even if several talks by the same person scored highly, only one could go into the final schedule. We value diversity of speakers, and reached out to diverse communities to advertise the call for proposals and also considered diversity when selecting talks. Also, where talks were scoring equally, we wanted to ensure we we’re giving priority to speakers who were new to the conference. We asked all speakers to post their slides onto the csv,conf Zenodo repository. This was really nice to have because attendees asked multiple times for links to slides, so we could simply send them to the Zenodo collection. Though it proved to not be relevant for 2020 virtual event, it’s worth mentioning that the process of granting travel or accommodation support to speakers was entirely separate from the selection criteria. Although we asked people to flag a request for support, this did not factor into the decision making process.

Creating a schedule

Before we could decide on a schedule, we needed to decide on the hours and timezones we would hold the conference. csv,conf is usually a two-day event with three concurrently run sessions, and we eventually decided to have the virtual event remain two days, but have one main talk session with limited concurrent talks.

Since the in-person conference was supposed to occur in Washington, D.C., many of our speakers were people in US timezones so we focused on timezones that would work best for those speakers. We also wanted to ensure that our conference organisers would be awake during the conference. We started at 10am Eastern, which was very early for West Coast (7am) and late afternoon for non-US attendees (3pm UK; 5pm Eastern Europe). We decided on seven hours of programming each day, meaning the conference ended in late afternoon for US attendees and late evening for Europe. Unfortunately, these timezones did not work for everyone (notably the Asia-Pacific region) and we recommend that you pick timezones that work for your speakers and your conference organisers whilst stretching things as far as possible if equal accessibility is important to you. We also found it was important to clearly list the conference times in multiple timezones on our schedule so that it was easier for attendees to know what time the talks were happening.

Tickets and registration

Although most of what makes csv,conf successful is human passion and attention (and time!), we also found that the costs involved in running a virtual conference are minimal. Except for some extra costs for upgrading our communication platforms, and making funds available to support speakers in getting online, running the conference remotely saved us several thousand dollars.

We have always used an honour system for ticket pricing. We ask people pay what they can afford, with some suggested amounts depending on the attendees situation. But we needed to make some subtle changes for the online event, as it was a different proposition. We first made it clear that tickets were free, and refunded those who had already purchased tickets. Eventbrite is the platform we have always used for registering attendees for the conference, and it does the job. It’s easy to use and straightforward. We kept it running this year for consistency and to ensure we’re keeping our data organised, even though it involved importing the data into another platform. We were able to make the conference donation based thanks to the support of the Sloan Foundation and individual contributors and donations. Perhaps because the overall registrations also went up, we found that the donations also went up. In future – and with more planning and promotion – it would be feasible to consider a virtual event of the scale of csv,conf funded entirely by contributions from the community it serves.

Code of Conduct

We spent significant time enhancing our Code of Conduct for the virtual conference. We took in feedback from last year’s conference and reviewed other organisations’ Code of Conduct. The main changes were to consider how a Code of Conduct needed to relate to the specifics of something happening online. We also wanted to create more transparency in the enforcement and decision-making processes.

One new aspect was the ability to report incidents via Slack. We designated two event organisers as “Safety Officers”, and they were responsible for responding to any incident reports and were available for direct messaging via Slack (see the Code of Conduct for full details). We also provided a neutral party to receive incident reports if there were any conflicts of interest.

Communication via Slack

We used Slack for communication during the conference, and received positive feedback about this choice. We added everyone that registered to the Slack channel to ensure that everyone would receive important messages.

We had a Slack session bot that would announce the beginning of each session with the link to the session and we received a lot of positive feedback about the session-bot. For people not on Slack, we also had the schedule in a Google spreadsheet and on the website, and everyone that registered with an email received the talk links via email too. For the session bot, we used the Google Calendar for Team Events app on Slack. Another popular Slack channel that was created for this conference was a dedicated Q&A channel allowing speakers to interact with session attendees, providing more context around their talks, linking to resources, and chatting about possible collaborations. At the end of each talk, one organiser would copy all of the questions and post them into this Q&A channel so that the conversations could continue. We received a lot of positive feedback about this and it was pleasing to see the conversations continue. We also had a dedicated speakers channel, where speakers could ask questions and offer mutual support and encouragement both before and during the event. Another important channel was a backchannel for organisers, which we used mainly to coordinate and cheer each other on during the conf. We also used this to ask for technical help behind the scenes to ensure everything ran as smoothly as possible. After talks, one organiser would use Slack private messaging to collate and send positive feedback for speakers, as articulated by attendees during the session. This was absolutely worth it and we were really pleased to see the effort was appreciated. Slack is of course free, but its premium service does offer upgrades for charities and we were lucky enough to make use of this. The application process is very easy and takes less that 10 mins so this is worth considering. We made good use of Twitter throughout the conference and there were active #commallama and #csvconf hashtags going throughout the event. The organisers had joint responsibility for this and this seemed to work. We simply announced the hashtags at the beginning of the day and people picked them up easily. We had a philosophy of ‘over-communicating’ – offering updates as soon as we had them, and candidly. We used it to to share updates, calls-to-action, and to amplify people’s thoughts, questions and feedback

Picking a video conference platform

Zoom concerns

One of the biggest decisions we had to make was picking a video conferencing platform for the conference. We originally considered using Zoom, but were concerned about a few things. The first was reports of rampant “zoombombing”, where trolls join Zoom meetings with the intent to disrupt the meeting. The second concern was that we are a small team of organisers and there would be great overhead in moderating a Zoom room with hundreds of attendees – muting, unmuting, etc. We also worried that a giant Zoom room would feel very impersonal. Many of us now spend what is probably an unnecessary amount of our daily lives on Zoom and we also felt that stepping away from this would help mark the occasion as something special, so we made the decision to move away from Zoom and we looked to options that we’re more of a broadcast tool than meeting tool.

Crowdcast benefits

We saw another virtual conference that used Crowdcast and were impressed with how it felt to participate, so we started to investigate it as a platform before enthusiastically committing to it, with some reservations.

The best parts of Crowdcast to us were the friendly user interface, which includes a speaker video screen, a dedicated chat section with a prompt bar reading “say something nice”, and a separate box for questions. It felt really intuitive and the features were considered, useful and we incorporated most of them. From the speaker, participant and host side, the experience felt good and appropriate. The consideration on the different user types was clear in the design and appreciated. One great function was that of a green room, which is akin to a speakers’ couch at the backstage of an in-person conference, helping to calm speakers’ nerves, check their audio and visual settings, discuss cues, etc. before stepping out onto the stage. Another benefit of Crowdcast is that the talks are immediately available for viewing, complete with chat messages for people to revisit after the conference. This was great as it allowed people to catch up in almost real time and so catch up quickly if they missed something on the day and feel part of the conference discussions as the developed. We also released all talk videos on YouTube and tweeted the links to each talk.

Crowdcast challenges

But Crowdcast was not without its limitations. Everything went very well, and the following issues were not deal breakers, but acknowledging them can help future organisers plan and manage expectations.

Top of the list of concerns was our complete inexperience with it and the likely inexperience of our speakers. To ensure that our speakers were comfortable using Crowdcast, we held many practice sessions with speakers before the conference, and also had an attendee AMA before the conference to get attendees acquainted with the platform. These sessions were vital for us to practice all together and this time and effort absolutely paid off! If there is one piece of advice you should take away from reading this guide it is this: practice practice practice, and give others the opportunity and space to practice as well. One challenge we faced was hosting – only one account has host privileges, but we learned that many people can log into that account at the same time to share host privileges. Hosts can allow other people to share their screen and unmute, and they can also elevate questions from the chat to the questions box. They can also kick people out if they are being disruptive (which didn’t happen for us, but we wanted to be prepared). This felt a bit weird, honestly, and we had to be careful to be aware of the power we had when in the hosts position. Weird, but also incredibly useful and a key control feature which was essential for an event run by a group rather than an individual. With Crowdcast, you can only share four screens at a time (so that would be two people sharing two screens). Our usual setup was a host, with one speaker sharing their screen at a time. We could add a speaker for the talks that only had a single other speaker but any more that this we would have had problems. It was easy enough for the host to chop and change who is on screen at any time, and there’s no limit on the total number of speakers in a session. So there is some flexibility, and ultimately, we were OK. But this should be a big consideration if you are running an event with different forms of presentation. Crowdcast was also not without its technical hiccups and frustrations. Speakers sometimes fell off the call or had mysterious problems sharing their screens. We received multiple comments/questions on the day about the video lagging/buffering. We often had to resort to the ol’ refresh refresh refresh approach which, to be fair, mostly worked. And on the few occasions we were stumped, there’s quite a lot of support available online and directly from Crowdcast. But honestly, there were very few technical issues for a two-day online conference. Some attendees wanted info on the speakers (ex: name, twitter handle) during the presentation and we agree it would have been a nice touch to have a button or link in Crowdcast. There is the “call to action” feature, but we were using that to link to the code of conduct. Crowdcast was new to us, and new to many people in the conference community. As well as these practices we found it helpful to set up an FAQ page with content about how to use Crowdcast and what to expect from an online conference in general. Overall, it was a good decision and a platform we would recommend for consideration.

#Commallama

Finally, it would not be csv,conf if it had not been for the #commallama. The comma llama first joined us for csv,conf,v3 in Portland and joined us again for csv,conf,v4. The experience of being around a llama is both relaxing and energising at the same time, and a good way to get people mixing.

Taking the llama online was something we had to do and we were very pleased with how it worked. It was amazing to see how much joy people go out of the experience and also interesting to notice how well people naturally adapted to the online environment. People naturally organised into a virtual queue and took turns coming on to the screen to screengrab a selfie. Thanks to our friends at Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas for being so accommodating and helping us to make this possible.

A big thank you to our community and supporters

As we reflect on the experience this year, one thing is very clear to us: The conference was only possible because of the community to speak, attend and supported us. It was a success because the community showed up, was kind, welcoming and extremely generous with their knowledge, ideas and time. The local people in D.C. who stepped up to offer knowledge and support on the ground in D.C. was a great example of this and we are incredibly grateful or the support, though this turned out not to be needed.

We were lucky to have a community of developers, journalists, scientists and civic activists who intrinsically know how to interact and support one another online, and who adapted to the realities of an online conference well. From the moment speakers attended our practice sessions on the platform and started to support one another, we knew that things we’re going to work out. We knew things would not all run to plan, but we trusted that the community would be understanding and actively support us in solving problems. It’s something we are grateful for. We were also thankful to Alfred P. SLOAN Foundation and our 100+ individual supporters for making the decision to support us financially. It is worth noting that none of this would have been possible without our planned venue, hotel and catering contracts being very understanding in letting us void our contracts without any penalties.

Looking ahead – the future of csv,conf

Many people have been asking us about the future of csv,conf. Firstly it’s clear that the csv,conf,v5 has given us renewed love for the conference and made it abundantly clear to us of the need for a conference like this in the world. It’s also probably the case that the momentum generated by running the conference this year will secure enthusiasm amongst organisers for putting something together next year.

So the questions will be “what should a future csv,conf look like?”. We will certainly be considering our experience of running this years event online. It was such a success that there is an argument for keeping it online going forward, or putting together something of a hybrid. Time will tell. We hope that this has been useful for others. If you are organising an event and have suggestions or further questions that could improve this resource, please let us know. Our Slack remains open and is the best place to get in touch with us. • The original version of this blogpost was published on csvconf.com and republished here with kind permission.

Annual Spring meeting

- April 26, 2020 in Events, Featured

The spring general meeting will be arranged as a virtual meeting on Tuesday 11th May, 18:00. The meeting will approve the financials of year 2019 and update the composition of the board. The working language of the meeting will be Finnish. Members have received invitation to spring meeting via email 26.4. If you are a member and can’t find yours contact jasenasiat [at] okf.fi Time: Monday 11.5.2020 at 17-19. Program Workshops 17-18 Annual spring meeting 18-19

Get ready for Hack4FI in Ateneum 13–15 March 2020!

- March 3, 2020 in Events, Featured, projects

Hackers, developers, designers, and GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museum) professionals. Come and get creative with the treasures of cultural heritage at our fingertips. From datasets to APIs and open content platforms, open cultural heritage is there to be reinvented. Let’s learn and play together!

Open Data Day 2020 with OKFI

- January 16, 2020 in Events, Featured

Open Data Day 2020 Time: Saturday 7.3.2020 at 10.00 – 13.00 Place: Helsinki Central Library Oodi, Töölönlahdenkatu 4, Helsinki Saturday 7th March is the official International Open Data Day! For us, it will be a combination of informal discussions and workshops. Topics include Open Data and Wikidata. The day is organised in an unconference way, where the methods and content are decided among the people who are present.  Program (more to be announced later)   International Women’s Day edit-a-thon together with Wikimedia  Group Working Space 3 – from 10.30 – 13.00 For 2020 Open Data Day Wikimedia together with partners invites you to attend the largest International Women’s Day edit-a-thon at Helsinki Central Library Oodi. The event is intended to raise awareness of the unequal coverage of women in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is one of the most important sources of information worldwide and gets millions of visitors and reviews each day, however only one in five biographies are written about a female figure. This means that an uncountable number of women scientists, artists and activists are missing from most popular website. We want to change that. The event is intended to introduce as well as narrow the gap between reading and editing Wikipedia content.   The post Open Data Day 2020 with OKFI appeared first on Open Knowledge Finland.

Autumn general assembly and Xmas party

- November 5, 2019 in Events, Featured

Save the date! Our xmas party and general autumn assembly are held on Tuesday the 10th of December at Maria01   The post Autumn general assembly and Xmas party appeared first on Open Knowledge Finland.

csv,conf returns for version 5 in May

- October 15, 2019 in #CSVconf, Events, Frictionless Data, News, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Research, Open Science, Open Software

Save the data for csv,conf,v5! The fifth version of csv,conf will be held at the University of California, Washington Center in Washington DC, USA, on May 13 and 14, 2020.    If you are passionate about data and its application to society, this is the conference for you. Submissions for session proposals for 25-minute talk slots are open until February 7, 2020, and we encourage talks about how you are using data in an interesting way (like to uncover a crossword puzzle scandal). We will be opening ticket sales soon, and you can stay updated by following our Twitter account @CSVconference.   csv,conf is a community conference that is about more than just comma-sepatated-values – it brings together a diverse group to discuss data topics including data sharing, data ethics, and data analysis from the worlds of science, journalism, government, and open source. Over two days, attendees will have the opportunity to hear about ongoing work, share skills, exchange ideas (and stickers!) and kickstart collaborations.   
csv,conf,v4

Attendees of csv,conf,v4

First launched in July 2014,  csv,conf has expanded to bring together over 700 participants from 30 countries with backgrounds from varied disciplines. If you’ve missed the earlier years’ conferences, you can watch previous talks on topics like data ethics, open source technology, data journalism, open internet, and open science on our YouTube channel. We hope you will join us in Washington D.C. in May to share your own data stories and join the csv,conf community!   Csv,conf,v5 is supported by the Sloan Foundation through OKFs Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research grant as well as by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Frictionless Data team is part of the conference committee. We are happy to answer all questions you may have or offer any clarifications if needed. Feel free to reach out to us on csv-conf-coord@googlegroups.com, on twitter @CSVconference or our dedicated community slack channel   We are committed to diversity and inclusion, and strive to be a supportive and welcoming environment to all attendees. To this end, we encourage you to read the Conference Code of Conduct.
Rojo the Comma Llama

While we won’t be flying Rojo the Comma Llama to DC for csv,conf,v5, we will have other mascot surprises in store.

OKFI 24h retreat

- October 13, 2019 in Events, Featured

We cordially invite you to attend the annual OKFI 24H retreat on 8.-9.11.2019 at 16-16 o’clock to Suomenlinna / Sea Fortress island. The program includes planning strategic directions for OKFI and networking over sauna. For further information about the event and registration please visit: https://forms.gle/qZ8mexyBvogfvF2y7 The post OKFI 24h retreat appeared first on Open Knowledge Finland.

2019 International Open Data Summit開催のお知らせ

- October 7, 2019 in Events, Featured, Special

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(OKJP)が後援する 2019 International Open Data Summitが10月8日(火)、東京大学安田講堂にて開催されます。 Asia Open Data Partnership (AODP) は、アジア各国・地域の文化とニーズを踏まえたオープンデータの普及と活用、情報共有、国際協力等を目的に、台湾の呼びかけで2015年10月14日に設立され、日本も2017年から参加しています。AODPでは、各国・地域のオープンデータの活用を促進するハッカソン(Open Data Challenge)の運営と、「International Open Data Summit」を毎年1回開催しています。本Summitは、アジアを中心とした各国・地域におけるオープンデータの普及・活用に関する活動の進捗状況や課題等の情報共有、パネルディスカッション等を通じて、オープンデータの普及促進を目的として開催します。 開催日時:2019年10月8日(火)10:00〜17:25
開催場所:東京大学 安田講堂 主催:内閣官房IT総合戦略室 / 東京大学大学院情報学環/ Asia Open Data Partnership (AODP)
共催:総務省 / 東京都 / 一般社団法人オープン&ビッグデータ活用・地方創生推進機構(VLED)
後援:経産省 / 気象庁 / 公共交通オープンデータ協議会 / オープンガバメント推進協議会 / 一般財団法人 全国地域情報化推進協会(APPLIC) / トロンフォーラム / 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 / 一般社団法人オープン・コーポレイツ・ジャパン OKJPからは、庄司と川島がモデレーターとして登壇します。 詳細は公式サイトをご参照ください。

A recap of the 2019 eLife Innovation Sprint

- September 26, 2019 in Events, Frictionless Data, Open Science

Over 36 hours, Jo Barratt and Lilly Winfree from Open Knowledge Foundation’s Frictionless Data team joined 60 people from around the world to develop innovative solutions to open science obstacles at the 2019 eLife Innovation Sprint. This quick, collaborative event in Cambridge, UK, on September 4th and 5th brought together designers, scientists, coders, project managers, and communications experts to develop their budding ideas into functional prototypes. Projects focused on all aspects of open science, including but not limited to improving scientific publishing, data management, and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Both Jo and Lilly pitched projects and thoroughly enjoyed working with their teams on these projects.  Lilly pitched creating an open science game that could be used to teach scientists about open best practices in a fun and informative way. Read on to learn more about these projects, and their experiences at the Sprint. Jo proposed making a podcast documenting the Sprint experience, projects, and people aiming to that would be fully produced and edited and publish the piece during the Sprint.  Lilly’s inspiration to create an open science game came from her experience at Force11 in 2018, where she played a game about FAIR data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable). She realized that playing a game can be a great way to learn about a subject that might otherwise seem dry, and creating a game prototype seemed like a fun, accessible, and achievable goal for the Sprint. The open science game team formed with eight people from diverse backgrounds, including a game designer, board game enthusiasts, publishers, and scientists. This mix of backgrounds was a big asset to the team, and played a large role in the development of a functional game prototype. To start designing the game, the team first decided that the goal of the game should be to teach scientists about open science best practices, while the collaborative goal for the players would be to make an important scientific discovery – like curing a disease. The team crafted the storyline of the game, and finally worked on the game play mechanics. In the end, the game was made for 2-5 players and ideally would take about 30-45 minutes to play. To play, each player gets a role card — Lab Principal Investigator, Graduate Student, Data Management Librarian, Teaching Assistant, and Data Scientist. Each of these roles has personas and attributes that impact the game. For instance, the Principal Investigator has negative attributes that make sharing research openly harder, while the Teaching Assistant has positive attributes that make it easier to teach new tools to other players. On each turn, the players can draw research object cards or tool cards that help advance the game, but might also draw an event card, which can have positive of negative effects on the gameplay. The ultimate goal is for the players to share their research findings, which requires the player to draw and “research” an insight card and it’s related methods card, data collection card, and analysis card. The game ends once enough research findings are shared (either openly or with restricted access). A fun and interesting part of the game is that the players can role play their characters and see how attitudes towards open science differ and how those attitudes affect the progression of science. Hint: to win the game, the players have to cooperate with each other and openly share at least some of their research findings. The team is currently digitising the game so others can play it – keep track of their progress on their GitHub Repository.
“My team was fantastic to work with. I came to the Sprint with a basic idea and a hope that we could create a fun, educational game on open science, but my team really ran with the idea and created a game that is so much more than I had hoped for!” – Lilly Winfree, OKF

OKF delivery manager, Jo Barratt, brought his storytelling talents to the forefront for the eLife Sprint by proposing the creation of a podcast to document the people and ideas at the Sprint. Jo has produced many podcasts over the years, and thought the podcast format would offer a unique perspective into the inner workings of the Sprint. He was delighted to have two other Sprint members join his Podcast team: Hannah Drury and Elsa Loissel from eLife. Neither Hannah nor Elsa had worked on a podcast before, but both were eager and quick learners. Their project started with Jo giving Hannah and Elsa quick lessons on interviewing, using recording equipment, editing and sound design. Jo was really excited to have such collaborative team members to work with, which was very in line with the synergistic spirit of the Sprint. To capture a feel for the essence of the Sprint, Hannah and Elsa began by interviewing most Sprint members, asking them questions like about their backgrounds and what they hoped to get out of the sprint. Interviewees were also asked to give their views on what ‘open science’ means to them. Next, the team interviewed several projects for a more in depth discussion into how the Sprint works and what types of projects were being developed. In the final podcast, there are interviews with the teams from the open science game project, one on equitable preprints, the project looking at computational training best practices, and the high performance computing in Africa team. Each of these segments shows the people, methods, and progress of the projects, highlighting the diverse people and ideas at the Sprint and giving listeners insight into the process of this type of event as well as many of the problems that face the open science community. Jo’s highlight of the podcast was a conversation between current Innovation officer at eLife, Emmy Tsang, and the past officer, Naomi Penfold. They discussed their experiences hosting the Sprint, and to commented on changes they have witnessed in the open science movement. Listeners to the podcast will notice the overarching themes of openness, collaboration, excitement, and hope for the future of science, while also being challenged to think about who is being left behind in the progress towards a more open world. You can hear the full podcast (and see pictures from the Sprint) here, or listen on Soundcloud here.
“I supported them but really this was made by two scientists who had zero experience in this and I think making this in 2 days is really quite impressive!” – Jo Barratt, OKF
The OKF team would like to thank Emmy and eLife for a great experience at the Sprint!

Part of the Open Knowledge Foundation team met up in Cambridge the day before the Sprint began, and saved the world from a meteor (at an escape room)!

Women in data can help tackle gender inequality

- September 10, 2019 in data literacy, Events, gender, News

Encouraging more women and girls to learn data skills can help tackle gender inequality and build a more diverse society, a conference will hear today. Speaking at the annual ‘Doing Data Right’ conference in Edinburgh, Open Knowledge Foundation chief executive Catherine Stihler will call on governments to do more to engage young women in data skills, particularly outwith maths and science. She will argue that this will help empower more women to use data to improve their local communities, their cities and their countries. Former MEP for Scotland Ms Stihler will call for more citizen-generated data through schools, libraries, churches and community groups to generate high-quality data relating to gender equality and diversity, as well as other issues such as air quality and climate action. Ms Stihler is speaking at The Scotsman conference, Doing Data Right: Through people and partnerships, on a panel on ‘Women in data’ – along with campaigner and writer Caroline Criado Perez, Gillian Hogg of Heriot-Watt University, and Talat Yaqoob of Equate Scotland. Speaking ahead of the event, Open Knowledge Foundation chief executive Catherine Stihler said:
“Governments across the world must work harder to give everyone access to key information and the ability to use it to understand and shape their lives, building a fair, free and open future. “Without data skills, people will be ill-equipped to take on many jobs of the future. “We need to encourage more women and girls to learn data skills, particularly outwith subjects such as maths and science.

“These skills will then pave the way for pioneering new ways of producing and harnessing citizen-generated data through schools, libraries, churches and community groups, which in turn can help tackle gender inequality, build a more diverse society, and address issues such as climate change and air quality.”