Joint Mozfest session

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Led by Stevie Benton, Wikimedia UK was involved in a session delivered at MozFest (London from 25-27 October [1]). Several organisations joined us to collaborate on the workshop delivery. Below you can find the initial brainstorming documentation, write up of the session when it took place, and some outcomes.

To jump straight to after the event notes, please see here.

Planning - from August 2013

This is a space to collaboratively work on a session proposal for MozFest. The basic idea is to bring together various organisations working in the open space to discuss ideas and possibilities for collaboration. There's so much that can be done, but how shall we do it? What do we want to achieve? Please either edit the below directly or comment on the talk page. But be quick! The closing date for applications is 31 August.

Interested parties

  • Christian Villum, Open Knowledge Foundation - / @villum
  • Stevie Benton, Wikimedia UK - / @steviebenton
  • Alison Wheeler, MozillaWiki - / @AlisonW
  • Jane Park, School of Open, Creative Commons - / @janedaily
  • John Cummings Wikimedian in residence, Natural History Museum and Science Museum - / @mrjohnc


Materials forwarded to us from Michelle Thorne, Festival Director, who lead similar workshops back in 2011:

Questions from the proposal form

What will your session allow people to make, learn or do?

The idea of the session is to bring together people and organisations that work in the space of open - whether open maps, open data, open source, open knowledge and so on - to explore ways that we can share our information with each other, and how we can support each other's communities. So far the communities approached for this include Wikimedia, OpenStreetMap, Open Knowledge Foundation, Mozilla, Creative Commons and Open Data Initiative. All groups working in this area are welcome to participate and encouraged to do so! A key expected outcome of the session is an increased level of collaboration across different organisations and communities. It should be emphasised that this session is very much a beginning. Rather than being an end in itself it will act as a catalyst for ongoing collaboration and participation.

This session is also a powerful opportunity to share lessons learned. The sharing of good practice is a really good way of strengthening relationships between organisations and individuals. If possible, we would like each participant (or organisation) to bring along at least one example of something they learned recently that may be of use to all of the participants.

How do you see that working?

The idea is to try to map activities, resources and information that all these communities are producing, and see how they overlap and complement each other. This would naturally be followed by a conversation about identifying shared goals, shared practices, shared communities - and figure out how we can help each other better. The session would be a combination of larger shared discussions and brainstorms combined with breakout group work - depending on the number of participants. This will help to seed collaborative projects between participants and lead to benefits to those involved and the open movement in general.

How will you deal with 5, 15 or 50 participants?

The session can be run with pretty much any number of participants and is easily scalable. With members from Wikimedia UK, Open Knowledge Foundation, Creative Commons, Mozilla and any other interested parties, we would be fully staffed to facilitate even a large number of participants. In many ways the session will deliver itself although there will be people on hand to provide some structure and support. The greater the number of participants, the better.

How long within your session before someone else can teach this?

The outcome of the session will be a set of ideas and suggested best practices that can be used (and taught) immediately by anyone. The lessons learned by participants can easily be shared with their communities too, so there are great opportunities of scale and swiftness.

What outcomes would you like to see after the session?

A better understanding among communities of how to better converge and take advantage of shared goals and practices. This will be a discussion that will hopefully fuel many more conversations in and between communities following the festival. It is also expected that the session will lead to closer collaboration between our communities, leading to new projects and a shared understanding.

What organisations or companies might be interested to participate in this session?

Wikimedia UK, Open Knowledge Foundation, Mozilla, Creative Commons and OpenStreetMap are confirmed participants. All other groups are welcome. If the session proposal is accepted then further outreach efforts will happen leading up to the festival to encourage as many organisations and individuals to get involved.

Preparing for the session

What materials will we need on the day? What would we need to prepare? Please also see notes from our planning call on the etherpad at

Following the planning call last week, it became clear that the main thrust of the session is going to be about learning what people actually want to collaborate on, finding projects that people find interesting. Therefore the idea that seemed to emerge was to use the session to explore the thinking of visitors to the session and for the session to be led by them.

Proposal accepted

I'm very pleased to record that the proposal was accepted and will go ahead. Date and time to be confirmed. Those involved in the session have been invited to participate in a planning call on 8 October. Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 14:56, 26 September 2013 (UTC)

Notes on the session

(An idea just suggested to me by JC. A booklet about being an open organisation. Something to think about. A booklet for organisations (both large and small) about the basics of open, the benefits of being more open, how to do it and get support. This could actually be a really good outcome, a commitment to create something like this)

An hour for a session like this really isn't a very long time. Since the session is going to be focusing on how to enhance and encourage collaboration across the open space the session will be mostly about conversations and building a network of interested people (and potentially organisations). People facilitating the session will be armed with post-its, whiteboards and dry markers. We will encourage participants to think about the projects that they and their communities are working on where they would like to get others more involved in, while they will also be encouraged to think about projects others may be doing and the kind of skills, knowledge, experience and (maybe) resources they would like to offer. A record of participants (Twitter handles, email addresses if possible) will be gathered to potentially develop a mailing list related to collaboration. This could be supported by a simple chat forum / noticeboard (or even potentially a wiki).

Once this information is collected through the session a key part of the follow-up will be a mapping exercise to bring together groups working on similar projects – a kind of project matchmaking. This could be done using, initially, Wikimedia UK's wiki as a hub for this matchmaking and surrounding discussion.

A side outcome of the project could be as suggested by John Cummings above. A booklet to offer to cultural, research and educational institutions (to name but three options) explaining what being an open organisation means, the benefits of openness and its potential benefits. We could explore this idea with fellow facilitators and participants.

Another aim of the session will be to elicit a shared understanding of the values of each community and organisation to find correlations and areas of overlap - because despite there being many groups working in the open space it's naive to assume that all communities and organisations think in the same way.

Further notes from planning chat

Look at perhaps setting up a wiki to which people can share their projects, information, data and calls for action and support, skills, volunteers. This could be supported by lots of categorisation / tags.

Localisation is one issue, but sharing cross domains is perhaps an easier win. Think about the problems you're trying to solve and then build from there. Doesn't have to be hi-tech.

What tools can we use for knowledge sharing? Post-it notes, Venn diagrams, some kind of mapping.

A primary aim of this work and collaborations is to help to avoid duplication.

We've found that, just from an exploratory conversation, that there are several areas of overlap: CC peeps always explain in terms of Wikipedia, Wikipedians spend a lot of time explaining CC licensing, OKFN spends lots of time speaking about why it's worth making data openly available.

On post-its: ask a question and ask people to post their solutions:

What information do we produce?

Where do we put the stuff?

What problems are we trying to solve?

What is your audience?

It's all about identifying overlaps and opportunities for sharing and learning.

Encourage people to share what works for them and what they are going to need in the future. Build relationships within the space!

Introductions – keep them very, very brief but ask people to share something that they are working on.

How do we tell each other about our events?

Writeup of the event

Can be found here.

Functions of a site

  • Basics of Open
  • List of organisations and their projects
  • Blog of blogs, blog aggregator, very searchable and customisable for specific audiences e.g teachers, community members, organisation staff
  • Event collator
  • Content by subject
  • Collaboration badges for individuals and organisations (maybe something like an accreditation)

Work coming out of the event

I have created two blog aggregators for open knowledge and open hardware:

They are very clunky but work, suggested additions for someone who knows how to make this better:

  • Not having to have more than one pipe
  • Being able to sort the posts and being able to search the posts by tags so it's not like trying to drink out of a hosepipe, also to be able to sort the feed for different audiences, e.g having a feed for staff or open knowledge organisations, a feed for teachers etc

--Mrjohncummings (talk) 15:41, 26 October 2013 (UTC)


Open News, Source: Source by Open News runs along the same lines as some of the the things we are wanting to address but specifically for open news.

Open Government Forum

I repeated the event at the Open Government Partnership Civil Society Day, a copy of the work created can be found here. Mrjohncummings (talk) 16:12, 30 October 2013 (UTC)