Open Knowledge Festival 2014 Day 2 - Bring it Home

Written on July 19, 2014

After a creative day 1 and a silly, fun evening I was ready to hit the conference floor once more. The day opened with two strong and empowering keynotes, which I got to live-tweet in Hebrew again.

I loved how the organizers structured the keynotes, as it seemed that while the day 1 keynotes were more focused on placing that “mirror” in front of us and exposing the faults, the day 2 keynotes were based around solutions, past present and future, and brought back some positive aspects of this movement and motivation going forward.

The first keynote was by none other than the vice-president of the European Commission Neelie Kroes, who has been at the forefront of many legislative changes around copyright, software patents, open data and open standards.

She described the efforts that the commission is doing and commended the communities for their fight for a more open and collaborative world. She spoke beautifully, knowledgeably, and with her presence seemed to bridge the generation gap that we too often see between the innovators and the legislators.

The second keynote was by Eric Hysen from Google, who talked about the different projects that Google has participated in and initiated around data collection and analysis. He invited the communities to contribute and participate in such efforts, emphasizing that unless we create ecosystems of people work on data tools, these tools can’t maintain themselves.

As an emerging community manager (for lack of a better “job” title), Eric’s words resonated quite well with the efforts that WTD is doing and I was very happy that he got to say them to so many communites, some of which might not even be big fans of his employers.

After a short break for a work-related conference call, I managed to catch an afternoon session that focused on data tools, and oh my are there many of them! The session chairs broke down the tools according to the workflow stage, such as acquisition, transformation, and presentation, and we split up into groups to analyze the good-bad-and-ugly of these tools.

Personally, I did not know most of the tools since my knowledge in data integration revolves around the enterprise market (which basically means a limited set of very powerful tools), but it was a pleasure to learn about the different tool chains and the workflows that education, science, and environmental communities implement.

It seems that many of the tools in discussion grew more or less organically to address a specific problem that the communities were facing, and now that there is such a variety of tools the general atmosphere among the participants was focused on trying to integrate and standardize the tools in order to make the process more robust and simplify the workflow. Looking forward to following developments in that area!

The conference closed with a live concert by a local Berlin band called The Swag, and everyone got a chance to unwind and let loose after such intense brain activity.

Sappy Conclusion Time

For me, the bottom line of this festival was quite clear: Open is here. It’s happening everywhere, it permeates all walks of life and affects everything we do. It’s just as relevant to our daily lives, like looking up an address or filing our tax returns, as it is to global projects, like exposing corruption, educating societies, and implementing open standards. Commissioner Kroes said in her talk that “data is not a four-letter word. It’s changing our lives, whether we want it or not. We cannot ignore it.”

As a documentarian, my content is the data that I share with the world, and my readers loop back data that I can use to provide them with better data. As a community facilitator (it’s going to take a while for me to get used to the titles, bear with me), I strive to create a network of communicators that will share their knowledge with each other and with their home communities, companies, and peers.

I came into OKFestival from the “open source” part of “open”. I came out of it with the broader meaning of “open”. I truly hope that that the wonderful work that all those involved in open data, knowledge, science, education, and technology will reach out and help all of us. As for me, I now feel more empowered to continue the journey back in my own communities with a new mental toolkit a massive motivation boost!

But for now, I have an unconference to run and documentarians to empower! Follow #writethedocs to get a feel for what happens when you get a few dozen content enthusiasts at an open space and let them run wild…