Open Knowledge Festival 2014: From Apps to Ecosystems

The OKFestival in Berlin raised a series of important points:

  • The transition from building apps to building ecosystems
  • Creative Commons Licensing
  • Open for whom?
  • Building open networks
  • What happens after the party?

 

Last week I attended OKFestival in Berlin thanks to the kind sponsorship from BaleFire Global.

(This was my second Open Knowledge event as I attended OKCon in Geneva last year.)

This year the Festival brought together over 1,000 advocates, activists and citizens from more than 60 countries. Participants were encouraged to work together to build tools and partnerships that will harness the power of openness as a positive force for change.

It is exciting to witness how the Open Knowledge movement is maturing -we are becoming more pragmatic through experience and practice.

As a group, we have come to realise that to make progress we need to evolve from holding sporadic events and building killer apps …. to focusing on the bigger picture, creating open alliances and developing a self-sustaining ecosystem for open data to make difference in the lives of real people.

 

Becoming Data Literate

The Open Knowledge foundation has often referred to open data as the public library of the 21st century. We need this library to help people become data literate, and likewise need to help people become digitally literate to use this library. We need to help people to develop digital skills which are essential for the 21st century through a parallel process of open education. It’s clear that as citizens in a rapidly evolving and increasingly data driven society, we lack access to the skills, tools, time and the energy to make the most of increasingly available data.

 

Open for Whom?

The conversation on surveillance which was initiated at the OGP meeting in London (Oct 2013) continued at OK Fest. This raised a crucial question for many participants: Open for whom? It’s clear that as private citizens we have very little  privacy and that ‘public’ bodies and ‘public’ servants are not public. To have a chance to restore balance we need to equip ourselves with the skills and tools to protect ourselves and our private identity and to put in place checks and balances on information collected on us by governments and corporations.

As a particular tool, the web gives us a space; it allows us to express our concerns, desires, opinions and to make our voices heard. As a community, we need to learn how to better translate our online efforts into institutional change. We need to learn to lobby and we need to know how to negotiate. In many of our efforts,we are naive. To become active citizens, we need to learn from the past, participate in present developments and connect with other movements.

 

Building Open Coalitions

One of the more compelling realisations that emerged from the fruitful discussions in Berlin, was that not only do we need to find more effective ways of working together, we need to learn how to build open coalitions with groups and initiatives with similar goals.

The highlight of the festival was a keynote delivered by Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes. She credited Open Knowledge catalysing the movement globally (video starts at 22min 35sec). Later that same day and in harmony with Commissioner Kroes’ message,  the European Commission issued recommendations for encouraging public sector information re-use under Creative Common Licenses.

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We need to build ecosystems (not apps)…. We need governments, funders, civil society and developers to work together. Although we do not always share the same agenda, we do share many values, goals and objectives – by identifying these and making them transparent we can find common ground for collective action.

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And so…What happens after the party?

OKFest 2014 Storified: HERE