The Final Frontiers: an A-Z of ‘open knowledge’

Open Knowledge is naturally a very difficult thing to define, especially since it is defined by a community of people whose view of Open Knowledge is naturally kaleidoscopic.

When people ask me what the OKFN community in Australia does, I often refer to the mission of those aboard the Stark Trek Enterprise (being a geek myself), the idea of ‘undiscovered frontiers’ for ‘Open Knowledge’ is an important one.

Just like the TV show, we never know what the next OKFN event is going to bring about! What we do know is that by the end of the episode, the things we have done will have pushed forward the ‘open knowledge’ frontier. My point is that there are very definitive things that come out of ‘Open Knowledge’ activities (even when you are not always sure at the start what those things are going to be).  In short, the one thing you need to know when participating in ‘open knowledge’ activities: get good people together and good things will manifest.

Accordingly, in this post I want to highlight the very real things that do come out of events and help push forward new ‘open knowledge frontiers’.  Below is a quick A-Z list of the types of ‘open knowledge’ that come out of doing OKF-like activities.   Many of the below listed activities are not directly influenced from OKFN, but all of them had an ‘open knowledge’ patriot involved in some shape or form:

The frontier of Open Access further discovered when David Willets (UK Senior Science Minister) announced that taxpayers would have access to the research for which they are paying.

The frontier of Open Bibliography further discovered on the 17th of November 2011 when the British Library announced that the British National Bibliography would be made available to UK organisations wanting to build new services, apps, tools and businesses.

The frontier of Open Citation further discovered on the 22nd of June 2012 as Oxford University Press (OUP) announces it will be the first University press to support an open scholarly record whereby anyone (not just a single publisher) can mathematically declare impact.

The frontier of Open Data further discovered on the 30th of November 2011 as the Open Data Institute (ODI) is announced to make sure government research is made available for use by everyone, especially our researchers in Academia.

The frontier of Open Educational Resources (OERs) further discovered on the 30th of September 2011 as California governor signed two bills making several core textbooks Open Access.

The frontier of Open Further Education further discovered on the 29th of July 2012 when “For-Profit” universities were called-out by Senator Tom Harkin’s two year investigative report for “exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars on marketing, regulatory evasion and manipulation.”

The frontier of the Open Genome further discovered on the 26th of September 2012 demonstrating as a community its commitment to share the science about the stuff we are made of over registering patent is an exemplar discipline that all other subjects should clone.

The frontier of Open Hardware further discovered on the 24th of October 2012 the RaspberryPi is sold out in less than a day making computing an affordable learning and research opportunity once again for everyone from children to senior citizens.

The frontier Open Innovation further discovered on the 26th of September 2012 Mozilla & NSF teamed up to demonstrate the power of universities and companies working together so that both can achieve greater innovation than they could otherwise do on their own.

The frontier of Open Journals further discovered on the 11th of June 2011 as three major research funders announce an Open Access Journal to rival Nature called eLife, an opportunity for world class research to recognised by more than a single publisher.

The frontier of Open Kinect discovered on the 19th of November 2010 as Microsoft does a 180 on their xBox 360 to embrace open hardware hackers and encourage further experimental uses.

The frontier of Open Licensing further discovered on the 2nd of April 2012 as Creative Commons release draft version no.4 of their licenses of which the top priority is the internationalisation of the licenses so more countries worldwide can benefit.

The frontier of Open Metrics further discovered on the 13th of January 2012 as academics started to declare that the current citation impact measures were not accurate representations of the so-called impact factor.

The frontier of the Open Net further discovered on the 19th of January 2012 the largest internet protest in all of history occurred to stop the SOPA and PIPA bills and organisations such as the internet defense league are formed to put a stop to the lobbyists who would destroy the open net.

The frontier of Open Ontologies further discovered on the 28th of August 2012 as is announced as a common place to share domain vocabularies and similar organising structures for scholarship.

The frontier of Open Patient records further discovered on 11th of October 2012 when GlaxoSmithKline (the 5th largest Pharma company in the world) declared their patient study records would be made open for more open research opportunities.

The frontier of Quality Open Education Resources further discovered on the 11th of May 2012 as the learning community begins to raise the bar for all content providers so that their content is free, open, quality checked and approved.

The frontier of Open Review by Peers further discovered on the 1st of January 2011 as BioMedCentral declares that it will use an Open Peer Review process whereby the reviewers will need to publish their signed reviews openly alongside the paper that is being reviewed.

The frontier of Open Stack further discovered on the 12th of June 2012 as it declares its board members and governing principles thereby ensuring a ‘linux for the Cloud’ where independent Clouds can offer the features and cost savings of the Cloud without being subject to the Patriot Act.

The frontier of Open Text-mining further discovered on the 14th of March 2012 when the Wellcome Trust declares it is absurd to restrict researchers from analysing their own research through text mining tools.

The frontier of Open Ubuntu Unity further discovered on the 7th of July 2012 reaches a critical mass of User support for an Open Operating system that is easy to use and increasingly becoming a competition to vendor based OS systems like Apple and Microsoft.

The frontier of Open Vs Closed Standards further discovered on the 2nd of June 2012 when Oracle is told that it can’t copyright the structure of its APIs assuring that as systems grow the API will remain an open method by which data can be passed between systems.

The frontier of Open courseWare further discovered on the 18th of August 2011 when Stanford’s online Artificial Intelligence course had over 100k people sign-up.

The frontier of Open XML further discovered on the 1st of October 2012 as Google declares proprietary non-Open document formats like .doc as redundant on the modern Web.

The frontier of Open diY (yes a stretch, but Flanders loves 3D Printers) further discovered on the 1st of November 2011 the ‘Model T’ of DIY 3D printers is released by the RepRap project called the Prusa Mendel, perhaps “T” for Terminator as it prints itself!

The frontier of Open Zooniverse / citiZen science further discovered on the 19th of December Zooniverse announced that it has reached over half a million citizen scientists, the largest open science community of its kind in the world!

I’d love to further classify the different types of ‘Open Knowledge’ so please leave further thoughts in the comments 🙂

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One thought on “The Final Frontiers: an A-Z of ‘open knowledge’”

  1. That’s nice David, I suppose the one missing piece in all of this is “Open Networks”. That comes down to the idea that an citizen/researcher has a level of access to any publicly funded (institutional) network.

    So we always come back to the concept of individuals, inside, or .edu, domains having a Single Sign On, and some place to store their personal stuff. So that’s in Australia, and every other country. The reasons are pretty obvious.

    We’ve still a way to go here. It’s one challenge which most National govs have to address. Thankfully, the guys who run the National Research & Education Networks have already addressed this problem, and have already invented some services which open networkers share. Even if their users don’t know about them.

    Seems every profession has been very good at opening their doors, individually. They just haven’t agreed on the attributes of their ‘master key’ yet.

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