Principles of open knowledge have been accepted by the civil society and governments alike, but there is a certain lack of historical research on the subject. This project would give a voice to the community itself, by creating a communal narrative of the development of open knowledge. Below is attached a rough draft proposal of the project. All feedback and ideas are very much appreciated.

Best, Antti Halonen

Project proposal

Title: Histories of open knowledge

Summary (for crowdfunding proposal only):

Help writing a history of one of the most rapidly expanding networks of the modern society. Principles of open knowledge have been accepted by the civil society and governments alike, but there is a certain lack of historical research on the subject. This project gives a voice to the community itself, by creating a communal narrative of the development of open knowledge.

Your support is needed in order to ensure the part-time work of a project coordinator, who supervises the project, draws a methodology and later sets up history workshops and compiles the perceptions of the community into a single narrative, which will be published in Autumn 2012 under open access regulations.

Project coordinator: Antti Halonen

Contact email: antti.halonen.10@ucl.ac.uk

Project description:

Purpose of the project is to write a history of the open knowledge movement, as perceived by the open knowledge community itself. Now that open knowledge movement has increasingly started to gain leverage and the principles of transparency are being introduced in both governmental and civil-society levels, it is time to compile a narrative of how open knowledge has emerged as a global movement.

A crowdfunding proposal will be made in order to ensure part-time work of the project coordinator. Having the status of an Open Knowledge Foundation project would help this significantly. Also, it would be much easier to get the message out to the community and attract community members to provide their perceptions for the research purposes.

According to one widely accepted view of historiography history is necessarily a combination of many different histories and several recollections of the past (for instance, Kalela 2012). Therefore this project aims at presenting a history of open knowledge like the members of the global open knowledge community perceive it. Community members are encouraged to take part in research circles and provide their recollections on the past. A young historian (project coordinator) will facilitate the project and conduct the final editing process. The outcome of the project will be a communal narrative of the conceptual development of open knowledge.

Methodology of the project will be based on the idea of history as a joint communal project. Like, for instance Raphael Samuel has argued, the sole authority of a historian is questioned and instead the community itself will be given a voice on about what is relevant and how the subject should be reviewed. Effectively, participants will be asked to “write their own histories”. What kind of issues have influenced their own thoughts and opinions? Why have they decided to take part in the open knowledge movement? What events have influenced their own thought and ideas about the society and the open knowledge movement?

After the project coordinator has finished drafting the methodology, the initial discussions will take place at the OKF wiki or blog space, where community members can provide their own recollections of the movement’s history. These discussions and stories will be then used as the primary material for the history workshop at the Open Knowledge Festival in September. During the workshop the community members will collaborate in drafting the initial narrative of the history of the open knowledge movement, and perhaps of Open Knowledge Foundation, too. After OKFest, the project coordinator will conduct the final editing process and compile the research into a comprehensive narrative, which will still be approved by the community and then published under open access regulations. If there is enough funding available, the narrative can be also published as a hard copy.


Phase 1:

Project coordinator conducts a literature review on the emergence of open knowledge as a concept and drafts a methodology on how to study the history of open knowledge in an open manner. (May – June 2012)

Phase 2:

Open knowledge community members are asked to provide their own recollections on how they got involved in the movement and what are their perceptions of the open knowledge concept. A suitable platform, possibly a wiki or a blog will be set up for this purpose. (June – September 2012)

Phase 3:

During Open Knowledge Festival the project coordinator will lead a history workshop where the community recollections and perceptions are discussed and compiled into a draft version of the history. Before the workshop a renowned professor of history (for instance Jorma Kalela) will give a keynote speech on history as a joint communal project. (September 2012)

Phase 4:

Project coordinator edits the draft and conducts the final narrative. Final work is approved by the community and published under open access regulations. (September – October 2012)

Resources needed:

• Support in identifying potential crowdfunding sources and gathering funding in order to enable project coordinator’s six months’ (May-October 2012) part-time work and the travel and accommodation costs during the OKFest (£6000-£8000). • Blog/wiki space from OKF servers. • Space for the history workshop at OKFest (two days) • Publisher for the final report



submitted 11 Apr, 09:27

ajhalo's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 19 Apr, 14:28

This is a really interesting proposal, though methodologically some questions:

  • The proposal starts from an assumption that principles of Open Knowledge have been widely accepted - but it would be useful to problematise this is a little, and to trace the emergence and degrees of acceptance of the principles as part of a history.

  • There may not be a single narrative to extract: in fact, I suspect there are a number of narratives and a degree to which what Open Knowledge is is still contested. It's important to consider whether a history (even a crowdsourced one) is telling only a dominant narrative, and how voices from outside the core of the OKF community play a role in providing historical context that gives a deeper understanding of where we are and how we got here.

  • It would be interesting to think about the extent to which this might also be about creation of an 'archive' of tagged open content that can be mixed together in various ways to create and explore the history. E.g. tagging existing artefacts (video / audio etc.) and collating new artefacts to curate the raw materials for a series of historical narratives.

  • It would be useful to have a definition of the scope of open knowledge that might be used in this project.

Overall though, this certainly looks like a valuable project to develop,



solved 25 Apr, 19:30

Tim%20Davies's gravatar image

Tim Davies
accept rate: 0%

Please give a link to your CV or previous activity (work, blog, university, publications).


solved 26 Apr, 11:29

kurzum's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Thank you, Tim, for your insightful comments.

I agree that both the assumption of open knowledge principles being accepted and also the very definitions of open knowledge and openness need further probelmatising. Presumably there have been different meanings attached to the concept of openness in different times, and this also would have to be addressed carefully. In the Finnish context, for example, it is argued that the discourse of openness has been gradually reframed with ideas of economic competitiveness, instead of the initial focus on democratic accountability.

The question of narratives is a crucial one, not only in terms of whether it is possible to compile a single narrative at all, but also in how the narrative(s) are presented. What I mean by this, is whether this project would aim at being an "official" history of the open knowledge movement or not. One problem that all "official" narratives - particularly crowdsourced ones - of one particular community or organization face is the evident exclusion of some part of the community: how to avoid the situation where some voices are given a better chance of getting their arguments through and into the final narrative(s).

The suggestion of creating an archive is really an interesting one, and probably should be considered even if this history project would never materialise.

I hope my answers make sense, I'm always happy to hear more comments and keep the discussion going.

kurzum, I'm not a big fan of CV's (it is always more interesting to hear what people are about to do than what they claim to have done), but if you are interested, please have a look at my linkedin profile, I think that's the closest thing to a CV I have at hand. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/antti-halonen/3/a86/102


solved 27 Apr, 09:34

ajhalo's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Hello Antti, sorry for asking your CV. Over the last weeks, I had to evaluate quite a few student proposals and many had forgotten to put their basic information. I don't know if there is a term for it, but I just wanted a link to the webpage, where you keep your pictures, profile and pointers to all your projects, blogs, etc.. The LinkedIn link satisfies this.

I agree with you, that it is more interesting, what ideas/plans a person has. But it is necessary to get to know the person to judge whether a project will be successfully realized. Now, I can give you a thumps up, for all its worth ;)


solved 27 Apr, 12:03

kurzum's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 27 Apr, 12:05

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