I went to the Open Knowledge Foundation conference, OKCON in London a few weeks ago, and have been meaning do a review of it ever since. Whilst little of what I saw had a direct relevance to what I do, it was invigorating to be in a room with a whole bunch of people with imagination, who believe knowledge should be free to anyone, and who basically like to disrupt the status quo.
So, we Brits are getting all excited because the Prime Minister gave a big speech about how Britain is going to be all fab, broadbandy, and “totally, like Web 2.0, man” soon. And all this data is going to be given away- look here’s some of it now. We’re all going to have instant access to Government services, free Ordnance Survey data, and a shiny Institute of Web Science to stick all the bits together.
Not wanting to miss out on the whole discussion about data formats, I was surprised to see people give up their control of their data quite so easily, as this comment and following post seem to suggest that we should. Imagine if we ceded so much control to the other people that sell us products. Software companies are only glorified shopkeepers, in the same way that people who sell us televisions and cars are.
I’ve been meaning to post for a while on Oxford Archaeology’s Open Archaeology Project, also known as our “Open Ethos”, then what do you know, Joseph posts about it and says it so well that I might just as well repeat his post verbatim. I won’t though- then you might go and read the other blog, and wander around on the internet for a while finding out interesting new things .
Wessex Archaeology are releasing their impressive gallery and flickr collection of photos under a creative commons license, according to Tom at Past Thinking. This is really good news, and shows that the idea of open access is catching on in British Archaeology. I’m going to submit an abstract for FOSS4G07 on the idea of “openness”, be that in terms of data or software, in UK Archaeology, and would welcome any comments or examples of use from readers.
Last night I was at the Free Our Data? discussion at the University of Manchester, running as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2007. This was interesting, not least because I have been thinking about this debate purely in terms of geographical data, yet other types of data bring other issues and concerns. The question-mark is important, as it represents the crux of this evening’s debate. Should public sector data be available for free, or freely available?