Open Knowledge community identity


Dynamics of identity formation in transnational activism - a growing Open Knowledge Community

How do Open Knowledge members (local groups etc.) around the globe identify with the OK community, do we have a shared sense of belonging and identity at all and what is it triggered by? And what does that imply for OK on its way to a global … movement, network, or other organizational construct?

To shed light on those questions is the aim of our

Identity Community Call - February 19, 2015, 3.00-4.00PM UTC

We wish to explore if the OK community identifies itself differently in relation to each other (e.g. all us activist individuals among ourselves and also in relation to other activist groups / non OK ‘branded’) and in relation to OK Central. Those explorations are part of a broader interest in shifting dynamics of socio-political activism from the perspective of civic motivations to engage across national borders.

The session will be directed by Kersti Wissenbach from Open Knowledge
Netherlands and doctoral researcher on transnational activism, supported by Christian and Katelyn from Open Knowledge International."
It will be the kick-off of a series of community sessions focusing on the identity and community shaping of Open Knowledge as part of Kersti’s research on community building and identities in transnational activism.

It would be great if you can join the call but there are more ways for you to engage!
If for whatever reason you cannot join our identity call on February 19 it would be great if you could leave your thoughts on the following questions in the response section.

Let us know
How would you define Open Knowledge and why - are we a group, a community, a network, a movement, something else?
How would you describe your role in it?

**A bit of research background

This session (and more to follow during the coming months) are motivated by my doctoral research (which I am conducting next to my work as technology for transparency and accountability consultant). As an external researcher of the University of Amsterdam I am focusing on transnational activism and community building in relation to new information and communication technologies and global threats to civic rights and freedoms. Although I am looking at the dynamics of dispersed communication, coordination and action eventually supported by new technologies I am driven by a people focused approach and interest in transcending forms of identity formation, therefore departing from a civic perspective. I am interested in identity formation and shifting senses of belonging with expanded implications for dynamics beyond movement creation - towards aspects of direct, transnational democracy.
For my research of transnational civic action and dispersed collaboration, Open Knowledge and its progressively global pervasion motivated by different thematic areas as well as a shared set of values is an interesting case to explore. It will be interesting to investigate if OK (local groups, working groups, etc.) identifies itself differently in relation to each other (e.g. all us activisty individuals among ourselves and also in relation to other activist groups / non OK ‘branded’) and in relation to central.

Some background on identity, citizen agency and transnational activism

People usually take action based on what concerns them in their immediate surrounding and solution-finding is strongly bound to local circumstances, cultures and traditions. People are searching for human identity and community, which is shaped by the communities we live in. However, circumstances are of increasingly dispersed nature, cultures are mutually engaging and traditions are communicated pervasively. The current global situation constructs a pervasive patchwork of cross-nationally networked people, increasingly connecting in the common thrive for justice of translocal matters. The world has witnessed massively pervasive engagement and action throughout the last years; however, it yet has to be seen in how far such mobilization transforms into a more structural level of citizen engagement and consequent new level of civil society challenging the contemporary socio-political world order. An increasingly intertwining global market does trigger the societal demand for solutions on an increasingly global scale and adjusted forms of governance.Despite the increasing lack of national governmental representation, it is to be explored if global evolvements and (ICT-facilitated) civic engagement do have a direct impact on people’s sense of belonging and consequently reshape the motivation for people’s civic engagement - extend the scope, and consequently challenging the traditional notion of citizenship as individual entity within civil society in a geo-spatially bound concept.

The question of citizenship
Recent years have generated a strong debate on the concept of bound or unbound citizenship in the course of technological innovation. Citizenship reflects which groups participate in their social construction and how. According to Cammaerts and Audenhove (2005) two main positions regarding citizenship and its transformation took shape in recent years. Opposing authors hold on to the classic definition of citizenship with strong focus on the nation state whilst others claim a transformation of citizenship against the background of globalization, transnationalization and new ICTs. The latter promote the emergence of new forms of ‘unbound’ citizenship, ‘linked to cosmopolitanism, multiple identities and embedded in a transnational civil society’. Such arguments point towards political participation disconnected (‘below and above’) the nation state. Such participation would emerge in the form of ‘communities of interest that go beyond the confinements or boundaries of the nation state and beyond mere rights’. ICTs are said to play an enabling role in this regard.Kaldor (2003 in Kavada 2005) claims the emergence of a global civil society – triggered by socio political changes related to globalization and facilitated by ICT innovations. Dispersed living people start feeling part of one community through the availability of visual impressions and information from elsewhere.Hence, the shift from geo-spatially towards socio-spatially bound frameworks of interaction and the generally transcending scope of economic and political challenges in correlation with the technological means for dispersed civic engagement suggests a reconsideration of the very concept of citizenship and the concept of agency therein. Citizens on a dispersed scale seemingly rise up and take action to claim (back) agency over their situations (Ross 2011).

ICTs, Civic action and transcending identities
The phenomenon of transnational citizen engagement we are currently facing is certainly facilitated by the rapid progress of new ICTs and consequent opportunities for a globally spanned network of scaled collective reflection and consequent action supported by the immensely increased visibility and circulation of citizen-driven information online and in consequence offline. Such new opportunities impact the variety of access to information citizens have, the opportunities for self-expression as well as the chances for collective reflection, mutual inspiration beyond local spheres and nation states, and consequent action on an increasingly disperse level, causing entirely new dynamics. It can be considered that increasingly dispersed means of communication in correlation with increasingly transnational threats are fostering the awareness of translocal commonality. Hence, circumstances, traditions and cultures may not be replaced but may attain a new scope of immediacy, impacting ways of identity formation, community-building and consequent action that might lead to a shifting hegemonic discourse., challenging traditional concepts of citizenship.



I’m interested by the topic, but it would be great to have more details on how the call will take place.


Hey Cédric,

Great that you are interested to join the session.
The call will be guided by some overall questions. However, the intention is to not have any predefined concepts but to explore the meaning of community and identity for OK really from the perspective of its people.
I will then draw some first conclusions from this exploration and go into more defined concepts and questions in the weeks after this initial call.
Would this answer your question?

I hope you will join us next week.

Best greetings,



I meant which communication platform will be used. Sorry for the confusion.


Oh I see.
The hangout link will be posted in a few days on
and I will also share it via the mailing lists.


I would like to thank Kersti Wissenbach for these discussion points. Here are my views.
How would I define OK?
Ok is a universal call to let human knowledge flow in its natural speed and in its natural way.
Are we a group, a community, a network, a movement, something else?
OK foundation is a large hall. It is wide and its ceiling is high. Inside this hall, many identities reside. It is like an umbrella for many identities. This huge entity (it does not matter whether we call our self as a movement or as an organization or as a network or whatever. Actually we can be all) it embraces a lot of entities (identities) because it could create a supper identity above. This identity in one way or the other swallows so many organizations belief and missions which is the manifestations of their identities. In other words we can say that other identities are the subsets of set OK. When we identify Ok from other entities the unique identity that OK can identify itself is that its name, its mission and its belief.
If we say why OK mission is very large it is because the term knowledge plus openness has a huge support by human religion, culture and conscience. Without critical reasoning many people will be captivated by its name when they first heard of it because it has these bases. And also Ignorance and closeness are not encouraged by humans. So OK is a leader and a creator of platforms for its multi identity members.
How would I describe your role in it?
When I identify myself as a member of OK and When I say I am a member of OK I mean that I believe in its mission and its belief is my belief. So, my role will be to promote its mission in my day today life. I see myself like as an instrument for knowledge transfer and I see myself as a single cell in this big system. I am not going to be only a receiver of innovative ideas from this umbrella but I see myself as a contributor too.


Dear all,

We are terribly sorry to announce that our community hangout of today has to be postponed. I am down with a flu which took my voice. So unfortunately, I will not be able to speak. However, this is not a lost hangout but we will hold it asap, most likely in two weeks time. Updated information will follow very soon.

My excuses!


I only had time to see this post now. I am actually interested in participating in this session.
Please let us know of the new date. Thank god for your flu :smile: (kidding).