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What is Open Knowledge

Rufus Pollock - February 14, 2015 in Musings

I have been gradually coming to the following definition of what “open knowledge” is in a broad sense (open knowledge lower case, that is the concept not the organization).

Open knowledge is three things:

  • Open information: all, essential, public interest information openly available – that is, free for anyone to use, share and build on.
  • Open infrastructure: all the essential infrastructure of the information age, from search to social networks, is built on software and data that is open to all – so that it can be understood, deployed and modified by anyone.
  • Open minds: people have the skills and the “open-mindedness” to use that open information and infrastructure to create insights to drive positive change. Information and technology on their own are of no value in themselves, their value comes from the insights and change they create and enable.

OpenSpending – Overview in Diagrams

Rufus Pollock - October 25, 2014 in OpenSpending, Technical

 Overview of the structure of the project

Key points:

  • the DataBase is central and the other parts support that
  • Note the Community here is not the community of all folks using OpenSpending (or using public fiscal info) but is the community of those contributing. cf OpenStreetMap – there is community of direct contributors (and direct consumers) and then the much broader community of indirect users (and those interested in open geodata)

 Technical Overview

Introduction to Open Data Index

Rufus Pollock - May 8, 2014 in Events, Talks

Introduction to Open Data Index at Common Assessment Methods Workshop in NYC.

Talk by Rufus Pollock at Open Data Holyrood

Rufus Pollock - December 10, 2013 in Events, Talks

Keynote talk by Rufus Pollock at Open Data Holyrood, December 10 2013.

Talk at Innovate UK on Big Open Data

Rufus Pollock - March 12, 2013 in Events, Talks

Today I was at Innovate UK to speak in the panel on “Big Open Data”. This was a chance to expand on the ideas I presented at the OECD Foresight Forum on Big Data in November and also to connect with our recent post on Open Data and My Data.

Open Economics – International Workshop – December 2012 – Slides

Rufus Pollock - December 17, 2012 in Open Economics, Talks

Slides from my talk today introducing the first Open Economics International Workshop organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation Working Group on Open Economics.

Mary Meeker of KPCB on US Financial Problems

Rufus Pollock - December 4, 2012 in OpenSpending

Mary Meeker of KPCB put out a nice piece in October entitled “USA inc” on how much financial trouble the US is in:

Close connection here with Open Spending and the need for decent info and decent balance sheets – cf also the Open Spending presentation at Activate

Open Data Protocols – Presentation to W3C eGov Interest Group

Rufus Pollock - November 26, 2012 in Talks, Technical

Summary: here is an increasing amount of open data but friction in (re-)using it is still far too high. We can reduce friction via e.g. packaging data better (cf software where packaging and automated publishing and download are a core part of the ecosystem). Open Data Protocols is an initiative producing simple protocols and formats for working with data RFC-style. Included is a concrete data packages proposal which emphasizes simplicity in the form of flat files, CSV, JSON and the minimal info to make this useful (like column types!).


Bank Ratings – What Determines Their Quality

Rufus Pollock - November 22, 2012 in OpenSpending, Research

Interesting October 2012 working paper from the ECB: BANK RATINGS WHAT DETERMINES THEIR QUALITY? by Harald Hau, Sam Langfield and David Marques-Ibanez. Here’s the abstract (emphasis added):

This paper examines the quality of credit ratings assigned to banks in Europe and the United States by the three largest rating agencies over the past two decades. We interpret credit ratings as relative assessments of creditworthiness, and define a new ordinal metric of rating error based on banks’ expected default frequencies. Our results suggest that rating agencies assign more positive ratings to large banks and to those institutions more likely to provide the rating agency with additional securities rating business (as indicated by private structured credit origination activity). These competitive distortions are economically significant and help perpetuate the existence of ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks. We also show that, overall, differential risk weights recommended by the Basel accords for investment grade banks bear no significant relationship to empirical default probabilities.

While we thought it before (see the excellent material in the Levin report on the crisis), it’s always good to have intuition and anecdote borne out by proper data.

[Via dealbreaker]

Notes on Node JS Libraries

Rufus Pollock - November 18, 2012 in Javascript, Node.js, Research, Technical

Research and notes on Node.JS libraries. This is ongoing and gets updated from time to time!

S3 / Google storage libraries

  • knox
    • Does not support GS –

Command line tools



  • jsdom (jquery support!)
  • cheerio