Open Knowledge Trend

Hi everyone!

For those who don’t know me yet, my name is Gustavo Silva, I am a 22 years old student, reaching you from Portugal.
I found out about OK from a friend and I got super curious about the foundation. After a while, I notice that my work group - Open Economics - was a bit inactive and thus they weren’t doing much progress. In another conversation, I found out that most work groups/projects are suffering from the same problem.

So I got into business and tried to see what each project was doing and noticed that most of the work groups and working together towards open data. Unfortunately, this databases are not being used by ourselves.
Even though I am new around, I think it is time to get more actual research using OK’s datasets, creating trustworthy articles with important conclusions. I understand that the OK Foundation counts with the collaboration of numerous professors and people that can help conducting these studies, providing great insights to the world of open knowledge. I will give you an exact example of my intention: The Open Economics group had a project called Failed Bank Tracker that provided a list of known failed banks. However, it does not contemplate why did they fail and what is the expected actions from the management boards, according to the regulations. We can even expand this tool and create a more graphical tool. I have proposed some changes to this project in our forums and I believe you already saw some of them.

We could maybe expand this concept to other work groups, providing more projects, workflows and even attract new people aboard. Since OK has been recognized as a trustworthy institution, I am almost certain we can also deliver excellent researches and studies.

What do you guys think? I really look forward to hear from you guys :blush:

@gsilvapt great to have your thoughts. Could you clarify a bit more here exactly what you are asking for suggestions on here. Specifically you say:

We could maybe expand this concept to other work groups, providing more projects, workflows and even attract new people aboard.

What exactly is the “concept” here. In general, the idea of a) developing and sustaining databases like the Failed Bank Tracker is a great idea b) promoting use of them both by people at Open Knowledge and elsewhere is also very good!

Hi @rufuspollock,

Well, both are correct but option a) is what most of these work groups are all about, right?

My thought here is to go forward with option b) and that is to promote and use our databases at Open Knowledge and everywhere else to produce articles, researches and other related things.

It’s a great opportunity to produce great researches for free, using open-sourced databases. I’ve once tried using a Thomson Reuters’ database and it was simply too expensive. It doesn’t even make sense. So I’m guessing this situation happens throughout the different areas of expertise and OK has been gathering and developing great databases that are usable! So, let’s use it! :smile:

Re (a) - not all working groups are primarily about maintaining DBs themselves - many are about promoting the idea of open knowledge and open data generally.

+1 on doing more (b) and definitely agree with more open databases (you may also be very interested in The key here will be focusing on specific databases to start with (and not trying to “boil the ocean”).

Sure, but most of them have developed/maintained secured datasets of many types.

Sure, that’s something we can do for the obvious reasons. It is also better since we can define better our efforts towards our goals.
Open Spending has a very interesting database. I’d vote +1 to keep this one as one of our first databases to start. There are others in the science fields I believe, and I’d include that one too. There are a lot of investments around the world in the research field of science - thus is a great opportunity to provide open data to whoever needs it (maybe partnering with colleges would be a great plus on this).
I admit that I don’t all groups completely, so I’ll let others that are more involved at the moment, to get their input here.

I think it’s a great strategy to go for. I was looking at the OK’s current business model and it is definitely something that we can go after and it could help us increase our income in the services & training tab. Nonetheless, I find it great to find new people ready to get involved and even developing our foundation.

Hi Gustavo

I coordinate the open science working group, who are less focused on datasets and more on discussion around open science in all its forms, although we have working group members who work with data and on projects involving making use of open data.

I agree that bringing together researchers is a great use of the Open Knowledge network and its something we’re trying in Open Science in 2015 although we don’t have any projects of the type you describe. However, I can suggest some organisational points for working group projects:

Documentation: I see you’ve updated the wiki, which is great! I’m still working on the best way to lay out information so it’s clear how people can get involved with the open science working group and what we’re prioritising. I would say make it really clear what the main focus project is and jump onto making that happen (it’s really easy to overstretch when the group is quiet).

Regular Activity: Small bits of regular activity are a good way to get new people involved and maintain regular contact e.g. monthly calls or IRC hangouts, but don’t be disappointed if they start small, persistence and time help a lot! Especially if there are specific projects to discuss.

Sprints: Everyone is a volunteer so sprints can work really well as they allow people to block off a half-day or a day to focus on the project. They can be virtual or tagged onto a real life economics or Open Knowledge conferences.

Perhaps we could have a coordination category in the forum for discussing community coordination and getting people on-board and engaged? I made a start on a community coordination strategy for the open science group (very much a work in progress) and posted some resources which Heather Leson put together during her time at Open Knowledge, which might be useful:

On an economics specific note, on a hackday with Guo Xu once we were talking about transcription of regression tables from papers as an excercise in crowd-sourced transcription, ‘data liberation’ from the closed access literature and re-analysis/reproducibility. I’m not sure this ever made it as an official project but may be worth reconsidering. I also work with a project called ContentMine that has strong links to the open science working group and is all about extracting data from the scientific literature (which could include economic papers if you can see scope for that).

I definitely think the Failed Bank Tracker sounds like an ideal project to increase activity as it incorporates small through the very large tasks. It might be worth listing possible ways to get involved in this kind of framework e.g. Got 30 mins? Find and add a new failed bank to the list. 1-2 hours? Fill in some additional info on a bank. 1-2 days? Think about making a new visualisation etc. There is a page on the Open Science Working Group site under construction with a similar aim:

Thanks for your energy (I know it takes a lot!) and I hope some of the above is helpful!


Hi @jcmolloy,

Once again, I would like to thank you for your feedback and I truly appreciate your effort to try to make more things happen at OK network!

I agree with the bolded section here. Even though I am not very experienced editing wiki pages, I tried my best to create, update and maintain the Open Economics page. Nevertheless, it may lack something and hopefully it will be fixed over time. However, I did my best to make clear what we wish to do and how to get involved, which I think it’s crucial at this point. I guess what is missing here is to get more projects running, which goes accordingly to your second proposal - regular activity.

I am not sure if I understand what sprints are. Can you rephrase/elaborate on this please?

I agree as well here. As I said in the mailing list, perhaps we should ask for a specific forum category. We can then split tasks according to the involved groups.

Thanks! I’ll read that to get some ideas to use later :smile:

I still have to investigate further to observe which type of databases are available at OK in regard to Economics. Your suggestion to structure and coordinate activities to the Failed Bank Tracker is great. I will use some of these suggestions to make it happen again. I wish to change its current structure, since it seems a compilation of information around the web. In my opinion, it would be great if we could have something more structured - and examinations of what went wrong, even though this requires a lot of commitment. However, having something that structured is useful to get an overall activity burst from the group. One person may not be able to deliver such complex task, but maybe a group of 10-20 people will, and that’s my point with adding research and investigations using Open Knowledge’s information network. We can easily build teams of enthusiast people (either with OK’s principles and foundations or with the active projects of the working group).

I am going to do some research over what is available right now and what can be done for me - well, someone has to get things running, right? Hopefully I will require all from all of you and then we can coordinate efforts among groups! I will keep you guys update.

PS: Even though it seems I am alone in this work group (So far, no one said s/he belonged to the OE working group) feel free to ask for anything if needed!

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