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Re: [ox-en] Fwd: [okfn-announce] Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) in London on 24th April 2010

I went today. There were several tracks to this conference, so of course
I only got a partial view.

The conference was about open data, mostly about the UK, organized by
OKFN and mediawiki. Many of the speakers from outside the UK (mainly
German) couldn't make it because of the volcano, making it very
uk-centric. The first part was a summary of events during the last year.
There have been a lot: release of data on a large scale by the UK
government, some data released by the Ordnance Survey, beginning of
local government agreeing to release data (election results), the first
data-specific license created (and to be adopted by OSM), data release
by World Bank, large scale adoption of linked data, rdf etc.

After that there were project-specific talks with a few main themes:

- government data, the elections, and transparency to citizens;
- the sciences and open access to scientific data (chemistry, climate
change, sociology etc - it suprised me how much difference there is
between practice in data sharing in different sciences eg one said
"chemistry is the most reactionary of all the sciences", contrasting
with collaboration and data sharing in particle physics, the difference
coming from the commercial involvement);
- bibliographic data. I followed this thread as I'm working in a
library, but it was a little thin as various major people involved
couldn't come (especially German librarians who have been organizing the
first full releases of catalogue data in the last few weeks/days).
- tools. I missed this section.

One thing that struck me overall was the exclusive emphasis on the word
'open', even from people who must have been aware of the free software
movement. I didn't hear the word 'free' used once, although there was a
repeated rather muddled refrain that 'being open isnt everything'. The
chemist said 'not only must software be open it must be an agent of
liberation', the climate data people emphasized that it was not enough
for the data to be open, but that the process of creating it had to be
transparent (they took old-style open source uncommented fortran and
converted it to documented python to make the process clearer), Toni
Prug said 'who cares if the source is open if the process of production
is closed', an institutional repository developer insisted that
'openness is pointless without discoverability', etc. No-one mentioned
Stallman (though a librarian did talk about Ranganathan, the library

The OKFN did emphasize the license side, that a lot of data loosely
called 'open' really isn't (eg with CC non-commercial licenses), and
that people need to insist on proper licenses (for data, either CC-zero
or the new ODBL).

Having said that, the whole open data movement is clearly progressing
incredibly quickly. Apart from the work on the linked side (rdf, sparql,
dbpedia etc) the OKFN said their main focus for next year would be
trying to make the network of CKAN sites 'the debian of data', and on
trying to push back against centralized commercial search, storage and

Re the journal: I'm afraid I found Toni Prug and Juan Grigera's talk
just confusing. Part of this was just lack of time - they had to rush
through it. But it started with Toni saying semi-seriously ' I don't
care if the neo-liberals do wreck the universities, they are such
mediaeval institutions any change would be a good thing', and ended with
a slide showing (seriously) 'open access == ACLs': that is, that a
visible list of who has what role in controlling each stage of
production of journals is better than having the whole thing managed
behind closed doors. So from an extremely radical start to an (IMO)
extremely cautious conclusion. I talked to them a little afterwards but
there wasn't time to say much: they said their Plone document production
flow module is still in alpha, and not really ready for general use yet.
They do now have some funding to take it further. I asked about the
'open access == ACLs' statement, and they said that for the
universities/publishers they were talking to, this was already quite
challenging. Toni said he had been in touch with Stefan and Mathieu :-)

So generally: successful conference, not quite as many people as there
could have been for external reasons; underlying movement IMO very
strong and fast growing, but slightly confused about goals so again IMO
vulnerable to commercial interests - all the main players (Microsoft,
IBM etc) are already involved, plus some new ones (eg. Talis), though
none attended today.


On 04/16/10 16:32, Stefan Merten wrote:

It would be great if someone here go there and give us an idea of what
happened there.



------- Forwarded Message

Date:  Wed, 14 Apr 2010 19:27:03 +0100
From:  Jonathan Gray <jonathan.gray>
Subject:  [okfn-announce] Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) in London on 24th
	April 2010
To:  okfn-announce <okfn-announce>
Message-Id:  <g2u54ca21751004141127r9ebbfdf8kd488ae23927405f0>


A quick reminder that this year's Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) is
taking place in London on 24th April 2010 - in 10 days time! There are
still tickets left - and you can register at the following link:

Speakers and sessions include:

  * 'State of the Nation' Keynotes:
     - Matthias Schindler, Wikimedia (Germany) on 'Bibliographic Data
and the Public Domain'
     - Glyn Moody, on the 'Post-Analogue World'
     - Peter Murray-Rust, on 'Recent Developments in Open Science'
     - Chris Taggart, on 'Open Local Government Data'
     - Sören Auer, on 'Linked Open Data'
     - Jordan Hatcher, on 'Open Licensing for Data'
  * Ideas and Culture with talks on analyzing 'Dickens Letters' and
'Making the Physical from the Digital'
  * Open Bibliographic Information with talks on 'The Itinerant Poetry
Library' and the 'Journal Commons'
  * Community Driven Research with talks on 'Climate data' and 'Open
  * Civic Information with talks on 'Using Open Government Data to
Profile Politicians' and the 'Straight Choice'
  * Open Government Data and PSI in the EU which looks at the current
state of play in France, Norway, Germany, the UK and elsewhere
  * Tools with talks on 'Large-scale data handling and revisioning'
with the Genome, Ontowiki, CKAN and more
  * Open Data and the Semantic Web with talks about South Korean
DBPedia and Thesaurus Management Tool ‘Pool Party’
  * Open Data in International Development including talks from
PublishWhatYouFund and on OpenStreetMap in Haiti

Further details are available at: -london/

More information:

  * Main conference page:
  * FAQ:

If you have any questions please email Sara Wingate-Gray at sara.gray

We look forward to seeing people there!

All the best,

- -- 
Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation

okfn-announce mailing list

------- End of Forwarded Message


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