Annual Report, 2008-2009

Annual Report, 2008-2009

The Open Knowledge Foundation is now entering its 6th year. The year gone has seen many exciting developments for open knowledge. The new US president Barack Obama has helped put openness up the political agenda in the US and internationally.

The announcement of, a registry for US Federal Government datasets is an important exemplar for those publishing open government data. There is growing recognition of the value of openness in other fields. There has been a significant increase in the number of explicitly open datasets - from library metadata to bioinformatics.

The Foundation has had a busy year of events - from our annual Open Knowledge Conference to smaller workshops on visualisation, public information and open science. We became a member of the EU funded Communia network and organised the 5th workshop - which was attended by representatives of national governments, the European Commission, and international institutions such as WIPO and the UN.

We've also made significant progress on several of our projects. The Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN), a registry of collections of open content and data, now has over 500 packages. We launched Open Milton, a European Open Data Inventory, and developed an Open Software Service Definition (OSSD) providing a standard for openness in network-based software services. We've also adopted Open Data Commons - which provides tools for making data open. We're currently in the process of putting together Working Groups to undertake and direct work in different domains.

We're very pleased to welcome several new people to the Foundation. Hans Rosling, Director of Gapminder, and Chris Corbin, European public sector information expert at ePSIplus, have both joined our Advisory Board. James Casbon, expert in bioinformatics coding and openness, Jordan Hatcher, open knowledge lawyer extraordinaire, Becky Hogge, ex-Director of the Open Rights Group, and new media guru Paula Le Dieu have all joined our Board.

Yet another enormous thank you to all of you who have participated in discussions and events, contributed to projects, helped with bits of code and cunning suggestions, and have otherwise donated time, space, and energy to keeping the Foundation ticking - we're powered on your input and ideas!

The Open Knowledge Foundation



May 2008

  • First Open Visualisation Workshop
  • Versioned Domain Model v0.2 released

June 2008

  • Second Open Visualisation Workshop
  • Over 200 packages on CKAN
  • Italian translation of the Open Knowledge Definition (OKD)

July 2008

  • CKAN v0.6 released
  • Launch of Open Software Service Definition (OSSD)
  • !OpenTech 2008
  • European Science Open Forum Satellite Event, Barcelona

August 2008 * Mike Linksvayer, Vice President of Creative Commons, joins the Open Definition Advisory Council * Interview with Rufus Pollock on Science Commons' Voices from the Future of Science

September 2008

  • First Open Textbook Virtual Meeting
  • Improvements to Open Shakespeare

October 2008

  • Second Open Textbook Virtual Meeting
  • 3rd Communia Workshop, Amsterdam

November 2008

  • Workshop on Finding and Re-using Public Information
  • Workshop on Finding and Re-using Open Scientific Resources
  • Open Everything London
  • 'Where Does My Money Go?' project wins UK Cabinet Office Show Us A Better Way competition
  • Greek translation of the Open Knowledge Definition (OKD)
  • OKF joins Communia network

December 2008

  • Open Everything Berlin
  • Launch of Open Milton
  • using PDDL
  • Hans Rosling of Gapminder joins the OKF Advisory Board

January 2009

  • UK !BarCamp UKGovWeb 2009, London
  • Interview with Rufus Pollock on !NetSquared
  • 'Public Interest Information Policy in Germany' published
  • 'What Obama can do to promote openness' post
  • Open Data Commons moves to OKF
  • Improvements to Open Economics
  • Icelandic translation of the Open Knowledge Definition (OKD)
  • University of Huddersfield Library using PDDL

February 2009

  • openeverything focus + CC Salon Berlin
  • KForge v0.15 released

March 2009

  • 5th Communia Workshop
  • Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2009
  • Beta for the Open Database License (ODbL) released
  • Chris Corbin joins OKF Advisory Board
  • Launch of Working Group on Open Data in Science
  • Talis launches Connected Commons

April 2009 * Launch of European Open Data Inventory * Release Candidate for Open Database License (ODbL) # Events and Activities ## Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2009

OKCon 2009 took place at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), University College London. The event brought together individuals and groups from across the open knowledge spectrum for a day of seminars and workshops. Speakers included:

  • Mark Charmer, AKVO
  • Vinay Gupta, Appropedia
  • Simon Parrish, Aidinfo + Karin Christiansen, !PublishWhatYouFund
  • Tom Scott, BBC
  • Jeni Tennison, London Gazette + RDFa
  • Leigh Dodds, Talis
  • David Bollier, !OnTheCommons + Author of Viral Spiral

At the event Leigh Dodds launched the Talis Connected Commons, which offers free hosting and data services for open data.

In November 2008 the Open Knowledge Foundation became a member of the Communia Network, the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain. It organised the 5th Communia Workshop, which took place at London School of Economics in March 2009.

Speakers included:

  • Tom Watson MP
  • Jamie Love (Director, Knowledge Ecology International)
  • Rufus Pollock (Fellow, University of Cambridge + Director, Open Knowledge Foundation)
  • Tom Steinberg (Director, mySociety)
  • Michael Nicholson (Deputy Chair, PSI Alliance + Expert Member, APPSI)
  • Mr. Luis Manuel Ferrão (European Commission)
  • Brian Fitzgerald (Queensland University of Technology)
  • Mireille van Eechoud (IViR)
  • Naomi Korn (JISC SCA Consultant)
  • Pierre Guillaume Wielezynski (World Food Programme)
  • Carol Tullo (Director, OPSI)
  • Simon Field (Chief Technology Officer, Office for National Statistics)
  • Brian Hoadley (Head of Product Design and Customer Insight, Directgov)
  • Ton Zijlstra + James Burke (Open government data project commissioned by Ministry for Interior Affairs, Netherlands)
  • Richard Owens (WIPO)
  • Ben White (British Library)
  • Tom Moritz (Internet Archive)
  • Edward Betts (Open Library)
  • Frances Pinter (London School of Economics + Bloomsbury Academic)
  • Paul Gerhardt (Archives for Creativity)
  • Mathias Schindler (Bundesarchiv image collection at Wikimedia Deutschland)
  • Hilary Roberts (Imperial War Museum on Flickr Commons)

Speakers at the event contributed a total of 41 policy recommendations. Participants drafted the following short statement: "Public sector content and data must be made freely and openly available to all without delay for use and re-use".

Open Everything is an international series of events about all things open - from open source software to open innovation and open government. The Open Knowledge Foundation co-organised Open Everything London with the Young Foundation, the Shuttleworth Foundation and Open Business. It took place in November 2009. Speakers included:

  • Glyn Moody, technology writer
  • Charles Leadbeater, leading expert on innovation and creativity
  • Rufus Pollock, Director, Open Knowledge Foundation + Economist, Cambridge University
  • Helen King, Principal Advisor, Shuttleworth Foundation
  • Geoff Mulgan, Director of the Young Foundation + Visiting Professor at University College, London, the London School of Economics and University of Melbourne + Chair of Involve
  • Tom Steinberg, Founder and Director of mySociety
  • Charles Armstrong, Founder of Circus Foundation + CEO of Trampoline Systems
  • Richard Allen, Chair of the Power Of Information Task Force

Organisations that participated included Kennisland, One World, Social Innovation Camp, Maslaha, Brave New Collaboration, NESTA, and Think Public.

The Foundation organised several focused workshops looking at open knowledge in specific domains. In Summer 2008 it hosted several workshops on open visualisation technologies. In Autumn 2009 it organised workshops on public sector information and open scientific resources.

We participated in numerous events throughout the UK and Europe, including:

Written pieces included:

The Foundation's Director, Rufus Pollock, was interviewed for Science Commons' Voices from the Future of Science and for !NetSquared.

The Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN) - a registry for open knowledge packages and projects - went into version 0.6 in July 2008. There were over 200 packages in mid 2008, growing to over 500 by May 2009.

In July 2008 we wrote about the use of CKAN in the life sciences. At the workshops on public information and open science in Autumn 2008 participants helped to register open knowledge packages that they were aware of in their respective domains.

In April 2009 we worked with EU Transparency on a European Open Data Inventory - which includes over 140 packages from European institutions and member states.

KForge, the suite of tools for managing software and knowledge projects, went into version 0.15 in February 2009. The !KnowledgeForge service, which runs on KForge, currently has over 400 users and over 70 projects.

In January 2009 the Open Knowledge Foundation adopted the Open Data Commons project - which provides legal tools for open data. In March 2009 it released a beta for the Open Database License (ODbL).

In July 2008 the Open Software Service Definition (OSSD) was launched - which aims to define openness for software services. In August 2008 Mike Linksvayer, Vice President of Creative Commons, joined the Open Definition Advisory Council.

The Open Knowledge Definition (OKD) was translated into Greek, Icelandic and Italian.

In January 2009 we announced improvements to Open Economics - including improved graphing and a new web interface.

In September 2008 there were significant improvements to the Open Shakespeare codebase. New features include support for statistics and graphing of word frequencies in different works.

In December 2008 we launched Open Milton to coincide with John Milton's 400th birthday.

We organised several virtual meetups for people interested in open textbooks - bringing together students, educators, authors, activists, funders, policy makers, distributors and publishers.

There are now 17 individuals and groups keen to contribute to public domain calculators project - which will provide algorithms to determine whether a given work is out of copyright in a given jurisdiction.

In May 2008 version 0.2 of the Versioned Domain Model (vdm) package was released. Vdm allows you to ‘version’ your domain model in the same way that source code version control systems such as subversion allow you version your code. We've since make significant improvements releasing a v0.3 (Autumn 2008) and v0.4 (Spring 2009).

Apart from being a concrete implementation of a system for versioning data(bases) — and therefore important for efforts to do more collaborative development of data — it is also a crucial piece of infrastructure for various of our current and future projects such as CKAN, Microfacts/Weaving History, and Public Domain Works.

'Where Does My Money Go?' is a web application aiming to interactively represent UK government budgetary information using maps, timelines, and best of breed visualisation technologies. First proposed in early 2007, it was a winning entry to the Cabinet Office 'Show Us A Better Way' competition in November 2008.


Working Groups


Working Group on Open Data in Science

A new Working Group on Open Data in Science was launched in March 2009. Currently members include:

  • Jean-Claude Bradley, Drexel University
  • Jonathan Gray, Open Knowledge Foundation
  • Andrew Gruen, University of Cambridge
  • Tim Hubbard, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
  • Puneet Kishor, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison + Open Source Geospatial Foundation
  • Jenny Molloy, University of Cambridge
  • Peter Murray-Rust, Cambridge University
  • Cameron Neylon, Science and Technology Facilities Council
  • Michael Nielsen
  • Rufus Pollock, Open Knowledge Foundation
  • John Wilbanks, Science Commons

In the first instance, the group aims to:

  1. Act as a central point of reference and support for people who think they are interested in open data in science.
  2. Identify practices of early adopters, collecting data and developing guides.
  3. Act as a hub for the development of low cost, community driven projects around open data in science.

This year, the the Foundation's Board has been strengthened with the addition of new members who bring with them expertise in developing and broadening the work of organisations in the open knowledge space. This is a signal that we are looking to ground and expand the Foundation's activities into the future, to grow as a collaborative community, serviced by an agile, lightweight core. The Board's vision for the organisation is one that supports and nurtures autonomous projects that are loosely joined by their endorsement and promotion of open knowledge, as set out in the open knowledge definition. We look forward to presenting the Foundation community with our plans to achieve this vision in the coming year.

The Foundation will always be a not-for-profit organization, built on the work of passionate volunteers. But by making a small investment in our infrastructure, we believe we can make this work go much, much further. To this end our target is to raise £10,000 a year based on regular donations. If you'd like to support us in this effort please sign up to our pledge: # Appendix ## People

Community Coordinator: Jonathan Gray

Board of Directors

  • James Casbon
  • Jordan Hatcher
  • Becky Hogge
  • Martin Keegan
  • Paula Le Dieu
  • Rufus Pollock
  • Jo Walsh

Advisory Board

  • Dr Sören Auer
  • Chris Corbin
  • Dr Tim Hubbard
  • Paula Le Dieu
  • Benjamin Mako Hill
  • Dr Peter Murray-Rust
  • Professor John Naughton
  • Hans Rosling
  • Professor Peter Suber
  • John Wilbanks

~- The Open Knowledge Foundation is a not-for-profit organization. It is incorporated in the United Kingdom as a company limited by guarantee with company number 5133759. The registered office is 37 Panton Street, Cambridge, CB2 1HL, UK. -~

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