Open Knowledge

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Open Knowledge
Open Knowledge logo.png
OK Main logo
Founded May 20, 2004 (2004-05-20)
Founder Rufus Pollock
Type Nonprofit organization
Focus Open knowledge broadly, including open access, open content, open science and open data.
Coordinates 52°14′08″N 0°09′15″E / 52.235435°N 0.154033°E / 52.235435; 0.154033Coordinates: 52°14′08″N 0°09′15″E / 52.235435°N 0.154033°E / 52.235435; 0.154033
Area served
Key people
Rufus Pollock
Slogan Sonnets to statistics, genes to geodata...

Open Knowledge is a nonprofit organization that promotes open knowledge, including open content and open data. It was founded on 24 May 2004[2] in Cambridge, UK, and was named the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) until April 2014.[3] The organization published the Open Knowledge Definition and runs several projects, such as CKAN, the data portal software used by many governments for their open data projects, and Where Does My Money Go, a service to monitor government spending.[4][5] As well as technical tools, the organization provides advocacy[6] and licensing advice around open content issues.[7] For example, it supported the development of the Open Database Licence (ODbL) and the Open Knowledge Definition.[8]


Joris Pekel[9] presenting at GLAM-WIKI 2013[10]

The aims of Open Knowledge are:[1]

  • Promoting the idea of open knowledge, both what it is, and why is it a good idea.
  • Running open knowledge events, such as OKCon.
  • Working on open knowledge projects, such as Open Economics or Open Shakespeare
  • Providing infrastructure, and potentially a home, for open knowledge projects, communities and resources. For example, the KnowledgeForge service and CKAN.
  • Acting at UK, European and international levels on open knowledge issues.

It was co-founded[11] by Rufus Pollock who remains the Board Secretary after serving on the Board until 2013.[12] The company Open Knowledge Foundation Limited was incorporated on May 20, 2004.


In April 2015 Pavel Richter, took on the role of CEO of Open Knowledge. Pavel was formerly Executive Director of Wikimedia Deutschland.

The current (2014) Open Knowledge Board is made up of:

The Open Knowledge Advisory Council includes people from the areas of open access, open data, open content, open science, data visualization and digital rights, such as:


Open knowledge has 9 official chapters and 49 groups in different countries. The local chapters are:

It also supports 19 working groups in areas including Open Access, Open Education, OpenGLAM and Open Government Data.


Many of Open Knowledge's projects are technical in nature. Its most prominent project, CKAN, is used by many of the world's governments to host open catalogues of data that their countries possess.[14]

The organisation tends to support its aims by hosting infrastructure for semi-independent projects to develop. This approach to organising was hinted as one of its earliest projects was a project management service called KnowledgeForge, which runs on the KForge platform. KnowledgeForge allows sectoral working groups to have space to manage projects related to open knowledge. More widely, the project infrastructure includes both technical and face-to-face aspects. The organisation hosts several dozen mailing lists[15] for virtual discussion, utilises IRC for real-time communications and also hosts events.


Open Knowledge is an active partner with organisations working in similar areas, such as open educational resources.[16]

Open Knowledge has produced the Open Knowledge Definition, an attempt to clarify some of the ambiguity surrounding the terminology of openness.[17] as well as the Open Software Service Definition[18]

Outside of technology, Open Knowledge plays a role in advocating for openness broadly. This includes supporting the drafting of reports, facilitating consultation[19][20] and producing guides.[21]

Rufus Pollock, one of Open Knowledge's founders, and current board secretary sits on the UK government's Public Sector Transparency Board.[22]


Banner for the Geodata project in Spanish

The foundation places a strong interest in the use of open source technologies. Its software projects are hosted on GitHub, which utilises the Git version control software. Some of the projects are listed below:[23]

  • CKAN, a tool that provides store for metadata. This enables governments to quickly and cheaply provide a catalogue of their data.
  • Datahub,[24] a community-run catalogue of useful sets of data on the Internet. Depending on the type of data (and its conditions of use), Datahub may also be able to store a copy of the data or host it in a database, and provide some basic visualisation tools.
  • Open bibliography, broadly construed as efforts to catalogue and build tools for working with and publishing bibliographic resources,[25][26] with particular emphasis on those works that are in the public domain and public domain calculators. Examples include the Bibliographica,[27] Public Domain Works,[28] Open Shakespeare,[29] Open Text Book[30] and The Public Domain Review[31] projects.
  • OpenGLAM
  • Open Economics
  • Open Knowledge Forums
  • Information Accessibility Initiative
  • Open geodata
  • Guide to open data licensing
  • The annual Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) and OKFestival
  • "Get the Data" — a web-site for questions and answer on how to get data sets.
  • POD - Product Open Data


Much of the collaboration with other related organisations occurs via events that the foundation hosts.[32] Its premier event is the Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon), which has been held annually since 2007.[33] Other events have been organised within the areas of data visualisation[34] and free information network infrastructure.[35]

Annually, Open Knowledge opens the biggest event internationally for Open Data called International Open Data Hackthon.

Panton Principles and Fellowships (Open data in Science)[edit]

The Panton Principles (for Open Data in Science) in 2010 had large contributions from Open Knowledge people and in 2011 Jonathan Gray and Peter Murray-Rust successfully obtained funding from OSF for two fellowships, held by Sophie Kershaw[36] and Ross Mounce.[37] In 2013 OKF obtained sponsorship from CCIA[38] for 3 fellowships, which were awarded to Rosemarie Graves,[39] Sam Moore[40] and Peter Kraker.[41][42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Open Knowledge Foundation. "About Us". Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Open Knowledge Foundation launched". Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Davies, Tim (12 April 2014). "Data, information, knowledge and power – exploring Open Knowledge’s new core purpose". Tim's Blog. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Doctorow, Cory. "Superb data-visualization of UK government spending". Boing Boing. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  5. ^ BBC News (11 December 2009). "Web to watch government spending". Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  6. ^ The Cabinet Office. "Transparency - useful links". Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  7. ^ Mathys, Tony; Kamel Boulos; Maged N (31 December 2010). "Geospatial resources for supporting data standards, guidance and best practice in health informatics". BMC Research Notes. BioMed Central. p. 19. doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-19. 
  8. ^ Creative Commons. "CC Salon Berlin and openeverything focus – Feb. 26". Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  9. ^ GitHub Account Name jpekel (2011-06-17). "Joris Pekel | Extended Profiles | Open Knowledge Foundation". Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  10. ^ "GLAM-WIKI 2013/Schedule - Wikimedia UK". Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  11. ^ Quilty-Harper, Conrad (July 2010). "The Government has unlocked the open data safe – now we must open it". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Naone, Erica (April 2011). "Bye-bye, Open Data?". Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Michael Bauer: "Necessitem periodistes per posar les dades en context" - Vídeo - CCCB LAB". 3 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Project Info: Who is Involved with the project?". HM Government. These include the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN): CKAN stores the catalogue behind and a growing number of open data registries around the world. 
  15. ^ Open Knowledge Foundation. " Mailing Lists". Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  16. ^ Open Educational Resources Commons. "About". Retrieved 27 April 2011. Strategic Development and Outreach Partners ... Open Knowledge Foundation 
  17. ^ "Open Definition". Open Definition. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  18. ^ "Open Software Service Definition Launched". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  19. ^ Open Society Foundations (September 2010). "Public Feedback Solicited on Access to Information and Open Government Data". Retrieved 27 April 2011. Information Program grantee Access Info Europe, together with the Open Knowledge Foundation, are holding a public consultation on open government data and the right of access to information. 
  20. ^ Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Digital Rights Management: A failure in the developed world, a danger to the developing world". Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  21. ^ Dietrich, Daniel. "Open Data Manual". 
  22. ^ "New Public Sector Transparency Board and Public Data Transparency Principles". HM Government. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  23. ^ "projects - The Open Knowledge Foundation". Retrieved 2008-02-14.  Open Knowledge Projects
  24. ^ "". 2006-06-23. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  25. ^ "Open Bibliography". JISC. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  26. ^ "Open bibliography and Open Bibliographic Data | Open Bibliographic Data Working Group of the Open Knowledge Foundation". Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  27. ^ "Open bibliography and Open Bibliographic Data". Bibliographica. 2010-05-20. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  28. ^ "Home". Public Domain Works. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  29. ^ "Open Shakespeare". Open Shakespeare. 2012-04-27. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  30. ^ "Open Text Book". Open Text Book. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  31. ^ "ABOUT". The Public Domain Review. Open Knowledge Foundation. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  32. ^ Holloway, Michael (March 2008). "PUBLIC SECTOR INFORMATION: OFFICIALLY BETTER WHEN SHARED". Digital Rights Group. Retrieved 27 April 2011. And if you get excited by material that's free to access, reuse or re-distribute, then please come down to tomorrow's OKCon, for a day of seminars and workshops around the theme of 'Applications, Tools and Services'. 
  33. ^ Open Knowledge Foundation. "About". Retrieved 27 April 2011. The Annual [sic] Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 
  34. ^ Gehelenborg, Nils. "Workshop on Open Visualization". Nature Network. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  35. ^ Doctorow, Cory. "Free Information Infrastructure event in London next weekend". Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  36. ^ "Sophie Kershaw | The Stilettoed Mathematician". Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  37. ^ Mounce, Ross. "CV". Ross Mounce. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  38. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  39. ^ "Rosie Graves - University of Leicester". Retrieved 2014-12-02. 
  40. ^ "scholarly skywritings". Retrieved 2014-12-02. 
  41. ^ "Science and the Web". Retrieved 2014-12-02. 
  42. ^ "Panton Principles: Panton Fellowships". Retrieved 2014-12-02. 

External links[edit]