Sara Wingate Gray
sara.gray at okfn.org
Mon Aug 16 13:41:03 BST 2010
I'd much appreciate a final eye over this, and in case I've missed out any major news: Here's the draft version of the OKF newsletter 15, and if you have any edits, you can make those here:
Open Knowledge Foundation Newsletter No. 15
Welcome to the fifteenth Open Knowledge Foundation Newsletter!
* Open Government Datacamp
* Where Does My Money Go? The data hunt continues!
* Open Government Finances: Presentation Principles
* PD Calcs and the Digital Public Domain
* The OKFN RDF Library
* Panton Principles Win
* New UK Transparency Board
* Upcoming Government Linked Data Session
* New OKF Working Groups
* ckan.net goes international: Italy and Norway
* New Government Data Report
* OKF Germany launched in Leipzig
* OKF Scotland Event
* New Translations of Open Knowledge Definition
* Open Government Data in Austria
* CKAN used for Canadian Data Catalogue
* OKCON 2010 success
* Other news in brief
* Thanks to our volunteers!
* Support the Open Knowledge Foundation
* Further information
## To support the OKF see:
OPEN GOVERNMENT DATA CAMP
Save the date! From the 18-19th November 2010, the Open Knowledge Foundation will host an international workshop on open government data:
Taking place at the University of London Union (London, UK) it’s a two day workshop, and tickets are a mere £10 (ticket price is to help cover costs - if the ticket price is a problem, don’t hesitate to let us know as we won’t turn anyone away because they can’t afford to come). That small fee gets you the opportunity to meet, work and network alongside the other movers and shakers from the world of open government data — including government representatives, policymakers, lawyers, technologists, academics, advocates, citizens, journalists and re-users. Crucially, the aim is to provide two days of discussions, drafting, planning and hacking, in order to build consensus around key legal, technical and policy issues relating to opening up government information. The event is supported by the Cabinet Office, UK; EU LAPSI project, Turin, Italy; EU LOD2 project, Leipzig, Germany; Guardian, UK; and Sunlight Foundation, USA. Projected outputs include such items as a first draft of an international ‘open data manual’ (organised as a ‘Book Sprint’); a set of key open government data principles; and the launch of RawDataNow.com — illustrating what we mean by ‘raw data’ aimed at those who publish official information, to name just a few of the exciting things we have planned. We’re also hoping that this event will strengthen the community of people working on different aspects of these themes, from around the world, and that the exchange of ideas, experience and expertise will create new inroads: the datacamp is also about making things, and we hope that there will be plenty of space for developers to hack away! To propose a session or help brainstorm, head to the open-government discussion list:
Meanwhile, we’d encourage you to register:
for the event as soon as possible as we think the demand for this event will be very strong, and we’re currently expecting representation from around 25 countries!
THE DATA HUNT CONTINUES: WHERE DOES MY MONEY GO?
There was excitement all round, and especially from the OKF's WDMMG team, when back in June the UK's new government committed to opening up more data, and specifically, the announcement that the COINS database, one of the biggest sources of information on UK public spending would be released. Open Knowledge Foundation Director Rufus Pollock recognised the milestone this represented in the opening up of public data, adding that while "this is by no means the end of the line, this material is substantially more detailed than anything previously available and is a major advance for transparency of public finances. With [the WDMMG] project we’ve already been working to make spending understandable to the general public and this new data is essential to realizing the project’s goal of showing exactly where each pound of your taxes goes." What was also exciting about this release was the immediate effect it had on galvanising people to create interesting and useful representations of and interactions with this data: there are COINS search engines from The Guardian and OKF
and bloggers have been powering away on their own projects to describe the COINS data. What a triumph for publishing government data!
It also certainly beats the alternative of using public funds to pay for these tools when the skills and enthusiasm are clearly out there in the community. Not least the WDMMG team, who produced a simple visualization:
to help contextualise the budget (in collaboration with David McCandless) and the Can You Close the Deficit Gap? Tool:
However, as lead researcher on OKF's WDMMG? project, Lisa Evans, found out, all was not quite as rosy as it seemed. In a post to the OKF blog:
and in a recent article for The Guardian she notes that, "When I saw the COINS data that was published at the beginning of June, I suspected there was something missing." Her suspicions were correct: a big part of COINS was not published, specifically, local council assets and accruals data as well as central government spending captured annually - as recorded in Whole of Government Accounts (WGA). There are a number of reasons why this is, and you can explore the finer details and the ramifications of this in Lisa's posts or the WDMMG website:
What is certain however is that a great deal more work and research is required and Lisa’s top tip is that meeting people is helpful, as “meeting and explaining the project with HM Treasury has been our first priority and in return they have often given more help and information than requested. But, despite being helpful HM Treasury have entered into an [Intellectual Property] agreement that means they are restricted in what they can reveal…sadly it will often be the case that government departments will have [such] Agreements that make asking for data much more complex [than] it really should be.” In the meantime, WDMMG will continue chipping away via FOI requests and helpful meetings to see what happens next. For the latest on COINS and WDMMG see:
OPEN GOVERNMENT FINANCES: PRINCIPLES FOR PRESENTATION
OKF’s Working Group on Open Government Data also celebrated the opening up of government data, both centrally and locally, and welcomed the chance to contribute to the ongoing debate with a move to create clarity in how financial data is presented. As such, generating some general principles for presenting government finances as data, to allow it to be properly analysed, combined with other data, and follow the flow of money to and from all branches of government, central and local seemed the right way forward, after a discussion with the WDMMG team, Now, the first draft has been published:
With the hope that some general principles can be established that would be applicable not just to government finances in the UK, but also for other countries too. Some of the key points regarding what data require are: machine-readability; fine enough granularity; and the use of standard IDs. Comments on the document from both the UK and other countries are welcome: Please dive in!
PUBLIC DOMAIN CALCULATORS AND THE DIGITAL PUBLIC DOMAIN
OKF member Jonathan Gray recently participated as a panellist in the third (and final) conference of the Communia project:
– a European thematic network on the digital public domain. Conference themes included University and Cyberspace, and a discussion surrounding how universities, academics, and students can play a key role in creating, curating and promoting the digital commons. The panel discussion meanwhile focused on the work of creating public domain calculators (PDCs), which the OKF Public Domain Working Group has been feeding into. PDCs aim to help users find and identify works which are in the public domain in their jurisdiction, and the results of the Communia project will include a series of recommendations for institutions, organizations, individuals, and individual material itself, which sits within the digital public domain.
THE OKFN RDF LIBRARY
Some months ago here at The Open Knowledge Foundation we started looking at how we might possibly use an RDF store instead of a SQL database behind data-driven websites — of which OKF has several. Making data re-useable (in a better way than ad-hoc JSON APIs) is one of several reasons we want to go down this route. For a fuller technical explication, you can read a blog post about it <here>, meanwhile, what this means is we’ve started writing our own middleware which we’ve named ORDF (OKFN RDF Library) and you can find the code and documentation here:
ORDF is now stable enough to start using in other projects, at least within the OKF family. A first and fairly easy case will be updating the RDF interface to CKAN to use it — fitting as ORDF actually started out as a refactor of that very codebase!
PANTON PRINCIPLES WIN
We were delighted to hear that the authors of the Panton Principles:
have been awarded the SPARC Innovator prize! The principles are currently maintained by the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Working Group on Open Data in Science, and Peter Murray Rust, one of the authors, and an Open Knowledge Foundation Advisory Board member (as well as tireless advocate for open data in chemistry) has recently started a series of blog posts about open data, focusing on issues related to the Panton Principles for open data in science. You can read his blog posts here in full:
and if you’d like to join the debate, take a look at the Open Data in Science WG and join and read the ongoing discussions:
NEW UK TRANSPARENCY BOARD AND PUBLIC DATA PRINCIPLES
The first meeting of the new Public Sector Transparency Board was held recently, and we’re delighted that OKF Director Rufus Pollock, as a Board member, will be helping to drive forward the Government’s transparency agenda. Aims of the new Public Sector transparency Board are to make transparency a core part of all government business, ensuring that all Whitehall departments meet the new tight deadlines set for releasing key public datasets. In addition, the Board is responsible for setting open data standards across the whole public sector, listening to what the public wants and then driving through the opening up of the most needed data sets. Chaired by Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, the other members of the Transparency Board are Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Professor Nigel Shadbolt from Southampton University, an expert on open data, Tom Steinberg, founder of mySociety. You can download the minutes of the Board’s first ever meeting here:
GOVERNMENTAL LINKED DATA SESSION IN BRUSSELS
The Open Knowledge Foundation Working Group on EU Open Data:
is organising a session on linked data and open data at the ICT2010 event in Brussels later this year:
The session has been proposed by IT professionals, scientists and government representatives organised – under the auspices of the Open Knowledge Foundation – as the Working Group on EU Open Data. It aims to establish a forum for networking and exchanging ideas with regard to publishing and linking governmental data, identifying technological developments and showcasing successful cases of linked governmental data. If you’re in Brussels on 28th September, we’d be delighted to have you along!
NEW OKF WORKING GROUPS
Recently, the OKF’s series of Working Groups (WGs) has been expanded, due to a surge of member activity and new items bubbling up to the surface from the collaborations and interests of the WGs as a whole. We’re happy to welcome the Open Archaeology Working Group
to the OKF WG stable, as well as the Open Cultural Heritage Working Group:
and Open Data in Linguistics:
as new stable-mates alongside. The Open Archeology WG’s aims include looking at new approaches to archaeological data analysis, and the ethics of sharing archaeological knowledge; Open Data in Linguistics WG seeks to discuss and disseminate best practices for making linguistic data open, and to maintain a registry of collections of open corpora, dictionaries and other linguistic resources on CKAN
while the Open Data in Cultural Heritage WG hopes to start with getting a comprehensive list of open heritage projects into CKAN off the ground. Open Knowledge Foundation Working Groups form part of the core way in which the OKF pushes forward with projects, with activity and action stemming directly from the hard work of individual members, who collaborate together to drive the direction of each WG and its focus, as OKF is community driven and volunteers are behind everything we do. If you’d like to get involved in a working group, whether you’ve got 5 minutes or 5 days to spare, you can see which of our current 13 active WGs may match your interests by checking out the full list here:
CKAN.NET GOES ITALIAN & NORWEGIAN!
We are delighted to announce that an Italian *and* Norwegian instance of CKAN is now live! You can see these at:
The Italian translation was undertaken by Stefano Costa (coordinator of the OKF Working Group on Open Data in Archaeology), while thanks to help from the fast and efficient CKAN community, the Norwegian translation was implemented in a very short time. There are currently 67 packages available on http://it.ckan.net/ — thanks to the Extracting Value from Public Sector Information (EVPSI) project. In particular, the NEXA Center contributed material generated as part of the EVPSI project, which is funded by the Piedmont Region and coordinated by the University of Turin, while there are already 136 packages online at http://no.ckan.net which is a fantastic start! The Italian site was officially launched by OKF Director Rufus Pollock and NEXA Center co-director Juan Carlos De Martin at the 2010 Festival of Economics in Trento and is a collaboration between the Open Knowledge Foundation, the EVPSI project and the NEXA Center for Internet & Society.
OPEN GOVERNMENT DATA: NEW REPORT
A new report released late last month, and written by OKF board member Becky Hogge, charts the history of open government data in the UK and the US.
Written for a consortium of grant-giving organisations including the Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Institute and DfID, the Open Data Study “…explores the feasibility of advocating for open government data catalogues in middle income and developing countries...aim[ing]…to identify the advocacy strategies used in the US and UK data.gov and data.gov.uk initiatives, with a view to building a set of criteria that predict the success of similar initiatives in other countries and provide a template strategy to opening government data.” The report draws some new and surprising conclusions, as well as recognising the role of organisations like the OKF and mySociety in bringing about data.gov.uk, it emphasises how crucial engagement with civil servants was to the success of the open data project in the UK, and raises interesting questions about what motivates politicians to embrace open data strategies.
OKF EXTENDS ITS OPEN BORDERS: OKF GERMANY LAUNCHED
We are delighted to announce the launch of the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, which took place at the Leipzig Semantic Web Day in May 2010. The OKF Germany chapter will be dedicated to promoting all forms of open knowledge in Germany — including open government data, open data in science, and the public domain. Work is already underway create a citizen driven registry of open data (with a particular focus on government information) which can be seen at:
We look forward to following the activities of the new chapter — and doing everything we can to support it! If you’re interested in getting involved, please say hello on the mailing list
and for further information see The Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland website:
OPEN KNOWLEDGE SCOTLAND
Scotland’s answer to OKCon 2010 (albeit in mini-form) took place in May in the contemporary Inspace area at the Informatics Forum. The first Open Knowledge Scotland event was organised with support from iDEAlab and EDINA at the University of Edinburgh, and in the true spirit of openness and exchange participants were invited to offer contributions on any aspect of creating, publishing or reusing open content in accordance with http://opendefinition.org/ and as such the event brought together open knowledge practitioners from across the open knowledge spectrum based in Scottish educational institutions, Scottish research organisations, Scottish local and national government, and members of the public for the purposes of teaching, learning and discussion. The event itself was full to capacity and took the form of ‘lightning’ talks, each 7 minutes in duration arranged into three topical groupings culminating in a clinic session where Charlotte Waelde and Andres Guadamuz of SCRIPT discussed 'Open Data Licensing: Legal Challenges.' Further details are available here:
NEW TRANSLATIONS OF THE OPEN KNOWLEDGE DEFINITION
We are pleased to now have Norwegian:
translations of the Open Knowledge Definition! Thanks go to Svein-Magnus Sørensen, Harald Groven and Olav Anders Øvrebø (Norwegian); Maxim Dubinin (Russian); and Mao, Ching-Chen at Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan (Chinese) for their linguistic efforts! If you’d like to translate the Definition into another language, or if you’ve already done so, please get in touch on our discuss list, or on info at the OKF’s domain name (okfn dot org).
OPEN GOVERNMENT DATA IN AUSTRIA
OKF WG on EU Open Data member Andreas Langegger helped organize an open data event in April in Austria, with the aim of bringing together a group of people interested and committed to starting an Austrian Open Data Initiative. OKF Director, Rufus Pollock, moderated an afternoon workshop and gave a keynote speech, and the day’s event ended with a series of lighting talks. The hope is that an Austrian OKFN chapter and a national association will be the results of this initiative, and interested parties are invited to get in touch to help with the rolling out of associated Austrian Open Data projects. All the results and slides can be viewed on the website of the project:
CANADIAN DATA CATALOGUE USES CKAN
We’re proud to note that the Canadian citizen-driven data catalogue datadotgc.ca is powered by CKAN. The site uses the CKAN software under the hood with a Drupal front end - and they’ve added some nice features like a custom input form (with Canadian government departments, license options and suchlike), and a ‘league table’ showing which departments share most datasets. If you are interested in starting an instance of CKAN for open (government) data in your country, drop us a line on our ckan-discuss list:
where there is a growing group of developers and translators who can help you to get something up and running!
If you have an item of news that you'd like us to include in the next newsletter, please let us know!
Thanks to everyone for making OKCON 2010 such a success, with excellent keynotes speeches as well as a full day of panel sessions and lighting talks. You can download presentations here. We look forward to welcoming you to OKCON 2011 – get in touch if you’ve got any ideas on particular session themes you’d like to see.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
– We’re thrilled to see all the amazing datasets, debates and data mashups that have been taking place via the Guardian Data Blog: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablogsince it launched in March 2010, and we’re delighted to have helped!
– An intense day of discussions, datasets, coding and labeling took place as part of the Aid Information Challenge, co-organised by OKF along withAid Info, Publish What You Fund, Rewired State and the Guardian. See some of the results of that day here: http://www.aidinformationchallenge.org/?page_id=228
– We’re delighted to welcome Nat Torkington to the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Advisory Board! A list of current Advisory Board Members is available at: http://okfn.org/about/people
– The OKF and the OSGeo (Open Source Geospatial Foundation) issued a shared response on March 15th to the UK Government’s consultation on opening access to Ordnance Survey data. You can read the share response in full here: http://blog.okfn.org/2010/03/15/response-to-the-consultation-on-opening-access-to-ordnance-survey-data/
– Scientist and OKF Advisory Board Member Peter Murray Rust has been spreading the OKF and Open Data word recently, at both the Open Science Summit 2010 (held in July at Berkeley) and at Sci Foo, the annual, interdisciplinary, invitation-only scientific 'unconference' organized by Nature Publishing Group, Google and O'Reilly Media. Not a fan of powerpoint, he’s come up with a new presentation tool!: http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=2517
– Open Knowledge Foundation Director Rufus Pollock and Chris Taggart of OpenlyLocal were asked by The Daily Telegraph what UK government datasets they’d like to see opened up next. Find out what they said here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/conradquiltyharper/100046396/the-government-has-unlocked-the-open-data-safe-now-we-must-open-it/
– Open Data Commons has released a new Open Data Commons attribution license (ODC-By): http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/by/
– Cologne-based libraries and the Library Centre of Rhineland-Palatinate (LBZ) in cooperation with the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center (hbz) are the first German libraries to adopt the idea of Open Access for bibliographic data by publishing their catalog data for free public use: so we’re delighted to be able to add a koeln-library-data package to the bibliographic data group on CKAN: http://www.ckan.net/group/bibliographic
– Members of the OKF were given the honour of judging open access publisher BioMed Central’s new Open Data Award: John Wilbanks, Peter Murray-Rust, and Rufus Pollock were part of the judging panel. You can read more on the awards, and the winning articles here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/researchawards/opendata/
– OKF member David Read gave a talk on open data and coding the data.gov.uk site, as well as information on the OKF and CKAN at EuroPython 2010 (The European Python Conference) held in Birmingham in July.
– Chris Taggart, of OpenLyLocal has been delivering a raft exciting and useful information for UK locales, based on local data, including an open data scoreboard for local authorities (showing whether they are publishing open data) as well as local council finances and spending: http://OpenlyLocal.com/councils/open
– OKF member Bryan Bishop gave a talk recently on ‘Open Knowledge Packages and CKAN, an Archive Network’ at SciPy 2010 (Python for Scientific Computing Conference) in Austin, Texas: http://conference.scipy.org/scipy2010/schedule.html
– Just a reminder that the P2P Foundation carries a lot of useful resources on developments that are based on commons for open knowledge, software and code: http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Open
– Iceland recently put into practice the IMMI (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative), passing legislation to strengthen free speech, among other issues. The legislation does not specifically talk about Open Data, but it clearly has many implications that are related. Visit the IMMI website for more details http://immi.is/ or see our recent OKF blog post: http://blog.okfn.org/2010/03/26/iceland-from-the-financial-crisis-to-open-data/
– The ‘Data Citations and Data Management Plans’ Summer Internship Project of the Data Observation Network for Earth is in progress. You can find out the project’s ongoing results regards attribution and reuse of research data here: http://dataonedatacitations.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/summer-tapestry-of-data-citation-research/
– As OKF member Chris Gutteridge points out, “just because knowledge is open, it doesn’t mean it’s true!” and he’s even created some “silly” RDF datasets to prove his point. Enjoy! http://data.totl.net/
THANKS TO OKF VOLUNTEERS!
As usual, a big thank you to our volunteers and to our extended virtual community for all of their valuable input!
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Sara Wingate Gray
sara.gray at okfn.org
The Open Knowledge Foundation
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