Going to OKFest? Help us connect and share knowledge across the opengov community

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Image credit: Flickr Commons

There is a growing consensus in the international open government movement that more effective networking and better information sharing could strengthen the community and contribute to real political change. If the open government community can engage in more meaningful communication about the projects we are working on, the policies we are pushing for and the tools we are using, we can better support advocates and activists in their push for greater political openness.

Several sessions have been organized at this year’s OKFest to address the issue of improved knowledge sharing and to find a way forward. We would like to bring two of these sessions to your attention — and encourage you to participate!

With participation from diverse organizations, a two-part discussion is being organized to gather ideas on these important issues. These sessions are being co-organized by an array of actors, including Open Knowledge, the Sunlight Foundation, mySociety, KohoVolit.eu, ePantswo Foundation, the World Bank, National Democratic Institute and others. We have designed these sessions to gather feedback and solicit ideas from the international community; so, it seems appropriate to present these two discussions as a series of questions, rather than as a series of statements. The first session will address the following questions: Who are we? How does the international opengov community effectively map and connect the organizations and initiatives that make up the community? The second session will ask: How do we share knowledge? How can we use this knowledge to strengthen efforts to generate political change locally? We look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can address each of these questions at OKFest.

The first session, “Open Data Communities,” will consider how to connect the global open government data community. Often, efforts to map the international community have been fraught with problems, namely outdated or incomplete lists, unstandardized information and limited funding. Following conversations at TransparencyCamp (Sunlight Foundation’s annual opengov unconference), discussion sprang up about the possibility of creating a living platform that would provide an overview of the open government community and allow stakeholders to connect with other actors. Some work has been done towards this goal and we’re excited to share some of that with you in Berlin. Community buy-in and participation are critical to the success of this project and we need your help to make it work. You can follow session one using the hashtag “#ogdconnect.”

The second session, “Opening Politics: Collecting and Organizing Political Data,” will consider how we can more effectively share knowledge, tools, and good practices to create political reform. At the national level, open government organizations or activities can sometimes be viewed as marginal actors, particularly when they operate in a narrow sector, such as parliamentary openness or open contracting. Yet, when multiple actors in this space coalesce across sectors on specific reform issues, either internationally or domestically, the political leverage of this community can be strengthened. In this session, we will explore opportunities for improving collaboration in collecting open data sets relating to political information, sharing tools for analyzing and visualizing this data and sharing knowledge and best practices — specifically with a view as to how more effective networking and knowledge sharing can drive openness reforms. You can follow this session using the hashtag “#openingpolitics.”

We are thrilled to have two one-hour sessions to discuss these issues. At a minimum, we hope that these sessions will generate energy and excitement about what the opengov community can achieve if we more effectively share information. We encourage you to participate and look forward to seeing you in Berlin!