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Notes from OKF planning/strategy meeting, 18th May 2011

Jonathan Gray - May 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

Rufus and I met in Budapest last week and did some planning and had some useful discussions about strategy. Some notes are posted below.

Strategic priorities

The OKF has (and will continue to have!) a very broad portfolio of projects, activities, working groups, etc. There is lots of interesting stuff going on, and core OKF team is working extremely hard to keep lots of different things going in parallel.

We agreed to focus on three key areas for the next 6-12 months (to be revisited) – two of the OKF’s flagship projects CKAN and Open Spending, and the OKF as a project in itself:

  1. CKAN – Have a very good core team now, and the system is getting better and better! We want to continue to make the system robust, develop useful new features and plugins, and to support the growth of the community of users around the world. Want to make sure we collaborate with others who are starting to work on systems and services for working with open data.
  2. Open Spending – Only started a few months ago – but there seems to be a lot of demand for this. Continue to develop technology, and work in partnership with users, other organisations, NGOs, journalists and others.
  3. The OKF – Want to devote more time and attention to the OKF as a project in itself. Making sure information from across the OKF is being effectively communicated internally (e.g. at Monday meetings) and externally. All projects and activities fit into broader vision of OKF as a network based organisation. Sustainability. If OKF is a garden making sure all different parts are being supported and tended to! Systematically review of everything we are doing. Quarterly audit.

We should focus on these three things for now. If we start or take on other projects, start new groups, etc, we should think of these as falling under (3), or the OKF as a project.

Going forward the OKF’s activities will form a triangle. A narrow top of projects with a high level of activity (e.g. CKAN, Open Spending) going down towards a broad base – with lots of projects and activities with a lower level of activity.

Who is doing what?

We should do an audit of all the OKF’s activities and then make sure that there is someone responsible for each bit. We should make sure all projects and groups have a contact person in the core team. Contact person can check we are supporting the group/project and pass on any updates to others.

Should more explicitly define tasks/area of responsibility for all core OKF people. E.g.

  • Operations manager (Jason): Responsible for everything to do with money, contracts, HR, oversees projects, etc.
  • Community Coordinators: Responsible for proactively making contact with key people/organisations on behalf of different projects and groups. Engaging and coordinating network members. Internal and external communication.
  • Project leads: Overseeing projects. Making sure they liaise regularly with core team and others at OKF. Responsible for making sure news and updates are added to a project blog – and key items are passed on to
  • Working group leads: Coordinating activities of working groups. Making sure they liaise regularly with core.

For these different roles we should better document key tasks and areas of responsibility that can be regularly reviewed. E.g. Community Coordinators should go back through mailing list archives to check that there are no outstanding threads/enquiries, should keep track and regularly catch up with people who want to set up/look after an instance of a project (e.g. CKAN or Open Spending).

Need to make sure people have a manageable and realistic list of things to do – so that they are able to focus on doing this well!

Community Documentation – “The OKF: A User’s Guide”

Some bits and pieces for the OKF Handbook – which will be main source of documentation about everything to do with the OKF:

  • Many core/community action items should be decoupled into (i) contacting someone and then (ii) tracking and proactively following this up.
  • Section on email etiquette. E.g. about who to write to, about why to contact mailing lists in the first instance, about keeping emails as brief and focused as possible, about attachments, putting text inline, etc.
  • Monday meetings. Very important. Should make sure we have a list of updates from people. Will be core part of getting a rhythm across the OKF’s activities.
  • Blog posts on How to do it. E.g. always put a strapline at the top. Process for reviewing/submitting. Making sure major project updates, interesting writeups, etc are featured.
  • Contacts management. Making a note of key contacts. Going back through mailing list archives.
  • Pads should be temporary! Raw/live notes on pads, migrated to wikis, blogs or elsewhere for a more permanent home
  • Making sure everyone at the OKF has a ‘go to’ person. For all core projects, making sure there is a day to day review, and ultimately all activities are overseen by the executive group and to the board.
  • Making sure all activities are directed towards quarterly milestones – at the end of March, June (OKCon), September, December.

Blog posts

We should do a series of blog posts that aim to communicate what kind of organisation we want the OKF to be:

  • Vision. Series of posts on giving broader vision for what kind of organisation we want the OKF to be and on different aspects of this vision. E.g. Apache Foundation, Working Groups, vision for community, Foundation/Network, etc.
  • Rufus and Jonathan to draft posts together: (i) Managing Expectations, (ii) Clean Room Open Data, (iii), Open Tools, Open Data.

OKF grants/challenges

  • Launching OKF small projects grant – perhaps in time to be announced at OKCon? Roughly around €5k?
  • Setting up Economics Challenge.

Expanding and consolidating the network

  • We should contact Geonames re: partnership and becoming a member of the OKF network.
  • We should contact Simple Geo for a guest blog post.
  • In medium term may wish to set up Open Data Alliance.
  • Talk to Melissa Hagemann at OSI re: their open science activities to explore synergies with Open Science Working Group.

Other bits and pieces

  • Set up alias.
  • Videos about the OKF and about various bits and pieces.
  • Update the ‘working with us’ section: Monday meetings, posting on

Week Ahead: Lucy Chambers

Lucy Chambers - May 23, 2011 in Updates

Past Week

OpenTech – lots of interesting talks. Particularly enjoyed talks about: Judgmental, PoliceState UK and gaining access to National Rail Data. Will be writing to the Office of Rail Regulation.

Upcoming Week

Availability 5 days: trialling unavailability (via Skype and email) on Wednesday am

Track usage, not people

Tim McNamara - May 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

In the humanitarian domain, the principle of neutrality is recognised as a cornerstone of ethics. However, I recently encountered a data repository which would not allow users to browse the contents unless they had registered. The problem is that the site contains a very prominent logo from US Aid.

Registration data can be very easily used to track people. Not everyone will feel comfortable to being subjected to monitoring from USA’s government. Therefore, it’s plausible to think that people could miss out from lack of access to the data held. When prompted with this concern, the programme manager responded with the call that the site needed to monitor usage. The manager said that they did not care who the people were. They are welcome to use fake email addresses.

I feel that if this was the case, then the site should simply remove its registration requirement. That would remove any doubt that they are tracking usage, rather than people. Do you agree?

Profiles: Friedrich Lindenberg

Lucy Chambers - May 20, 2011 in CKAN, OpenSpending, People, Profiles

Friedrich Lindenberg is a media scientist turned coder working on open government and transparency initiatives.

As a developer at the Open Knowledge Foundation, he is contributing to OpenSpending, an international effort to make financial data accessible. After presenting the German state budget on in 2010, he is now working on technologies that allow the budgets and spending records of any state and region to be visualized and explored. In CKAN, a community-driven data catalogue project, Friedrich has helped to create data portals for a number of European administrations and is working on an effort to create a pan-European data catalogue at He is the author of Adhocracy, a collaborative drafting software used by the Internet commission of the German Bundestag and several political parties and organizations to enable citizens to contribute to policy documents and to vote on them.

Profiles: William Waites

Lucy Chambers - May 20, 2011 in CKAN, People, Profiles

William Waites is a network engineer and systems programmer with 15 years experience in academia, industry and international development environments. He has contributed to many free software projects including amongst others 4store, rdflib, Asterisk and NetBSD. He is currently a visiting researcher at the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh as well as technical director of Okapi Consulting and contributor to several projects of the Open Knowledge Foundation. He is a licensed amateur radio operator, violinist and shuttle-pipe player.

Thoughts on “Local” CKAN and the DataDeck

Rufus Pollock - May 20, 2011 in CKAN, Design

Some very rough thoughts on a Local CKAN and a DataDeck prompted by discussion with Pedro Markun at CONSEGI.


People want to organize and work with data locally on their machine.


  • List and view datasets they have (including all files contained in that dataset)
  • Work with the stuff directly (e.g. by putting in a directory)
  • Ability to pull stuff down easily from CKAN (dp pull)
  • Ability to sync semi-automatically with main CKAN (dp push)



  • datapkg based
    • rename datapkg to dp
    • By default local index was just json file (index.json) with individual packages in package.json
    • all the stuff talked about with matthew
  • run ckan with sqlite locally (still have a lot of dependencies — can we strip these down)
  • use datadeck (i.e. pure js)
    • but how do we connect to local storage?

Suggested Approach

A combination of datapkg + datadeck (with a stripped down local python server) would be the KISS approach.

Aside on Debian Style Create Your Own Apt-Repository

The datapkg model is nice because it allows us to make it ultra-simple to publish your own mini-package repository. You just share a folder online with:

  • index.json at its base pointing to data package directories
  • each package directory contains a data package (i.e. package.json, manifest.json plus associated files)

Profiles: Adrià Mercader

Lucy Chambers - May 20, 2011 in CKAN, People, Profiles

Adrià Mercader is a software developer focused on the Web and Open technologies in general, and the geospatial field in particular. Before joining the CKAN team he built and managed several geo-related projects for different organizations, ranging from online map viewers to spatially enabled services and APIs. He is currently based in Newcastle upon Tyne, and more information about him can be found on his website.

Profiles: Seb Bacon

Lucy Chambers - May 20, 2011 in CKAN, People, Profiles

Seb Bacon is a software developer and business consultant. He does analysis, design and build for the charity sector. He works on various things in the team, including hacking on the CKAN software, project management, and troublemaking around processes and systems. He has also recently taken on responsibility for improving our documentation. He currently (May 2011) works 4 days a week for OKF.

Profiles: David Read

Lucy Chambers - May 20, 2011 in People, Profiles

David Read has worked in software development for a range of large and small organisations over several years in the mobile and web sectors.

Worklog 2011-05-15 to 2011-05-20

Jonathan Gray - May 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Some things I did this week:

  • Core/CommunityPlanning and strategy meeting with Rufus in Budapest
  • Core/Community – Met up with Igor from Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt:Polska in Budapest and discussed various ways in which we might be able to collaborate – including on CKAN, Open Spending, and a possible open data event in Poland, perhaps in the autumn
  • Events – Open Data in Europe event, 19th May 2011
  • Events – Open Data in Budapest workshop, 20th May 2011
  • Events – Invited Gregor to speak at Visualizing Europe event in Brussels that OKF is co-organising on 14th June 2011
  • OKCon – Invited Mirko Lorenz to speak at data journalism session at OKCon 2011
  • Open Data Challenge – Judging process for Open Data Challenge
  • Open Data in Development – pinged Claudia re: open data development WG, arranged to meet her in Berlin
  • OKCon – Invited Mirko Lorenz to speak at data journalism session at OKCon 2011
  • Open Spending – Jonathan and Rufus met with Janet in Budapest regarding Open Spending