Recently I was in Berlin at OKCon organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation, and I must say it was a great event loaded with presentations and workshops; 10 hours a day, for two straight days, more than 50 sessions on 5 tracks on open data, open education, open economy and much more. Below, I’ve summarized some of the sessions I attended and found worth mentioning.
Richard Stallman was one of the early presenters, but, in my opinion, he sadly misjudged his audience. He spent several minutes talking to a room full of Apple Macbooks about the evils of how closed software endangers your basic freedoms. I had the impression that most of the room, including me, value open source more for the better quality of its code, whereas Stallman appears to be more concerned with the freedom it provides. Quality of code for him seems to be merely a side benefit.
Carl-Christian Buhr presented how Neelie Kroes' digital agenda incorporates open data. He also mentioned work on a review and upate of the 10-year-old Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive. It was amusing for me to find out that there will be an update to this directive soon, given that my home country (the Slovak republic) is trying to incorporate the old one into their laws right now.
ScraperWiki is a project that aims to bring together two, sometimes opposite, camps. First is the camp of journalists, that are looking for current, open public data in easy-to-use formats. Second is the camp of developers and scripters who are looking to help or enhance their skill in scripting languages. The ScraperWiki project enables the developer to write snippets of code to parse and extract public information from different web sites.
Brewster Kahle from the Internet Archive gave a very influential talk about what his organization does. He spoke about projects they are doing such as an open library where you can borrow ebooks, recording of multiple TV channels at the same time, their physical book archive or rebuilding the great library of Alexandria. As a system administrator I was impressed with the scope of it, and the operation effectiveness must be challenging. There is no way I can capture his talk in words, so I highly recommend you visit their website to get a sense of everything they do.
All the sessions were recorded, and I hope they will be placed on the conference website soon. Overall it was a great conference, and, as always, I'm always looking forward to the Open Gov Data Camp in Warsaw in October of this year.