The world’s first Open Knowledge Festival will take place in Helsinki in September. Its goal is to stimulate the opening up of society in Finland and elsewhere in the world.
― Open knowledge is a relatively new concept, but it plays a significant role in creating a healthy society, a vibrant culture and a viable economy. Open knowledge is free for everybody to use, modify and share. It can be information about genes, geo-data, literature or programming code, says Programme Director Jussi Nissilä from The Finnish Institute in London.
― The openness of knowledge plays a key role when renewal takes place in society and rigid hierarchies are replaced by a flexible, diverse and experimental operating culture. Open knowledge makes it possible for people to work together and is useful in the spheres of society, commerce and culture.
Knowledge doesn’t wear out
Open knowledge is central to society because it supports transparency and therefore the accountability of various operators to their stakeholders. The citizens of an open society should have the right to freely assess the politics practiced by those in power, and its consequences.
― However, open knowledge is not solely a democratic basic right. Various organisations ranging from companies to public sector organisations also benefit from better and more accurate information as well as the innovation that results from the free sharing of information and working together. Knowledge doesn’t wear out with use, instead it becomes enriched as it’s passed on, thus saving society’s resources. For municipalities open knowledge can mean more satisfied inhabitants and for companies it can mean new business, Nissilä says.
The week-long festival will include various announcements related to international co-operation and the opening up of knowledge.
― The event’s most important contribution is the fostering of open knowledge, the creation of new projects and the networking between Finnish and foreign operators, Nissilä sums up.
Finland is a pioneer
The festival, which will be organised between 17 and 22 September combines for the first time two annual international open knowledge events: the Open Government Data Camp and the Open Knowledge Conference. At the start of September ticket sales indicated that the festival would be sold out.
― We are expecting around 800 daily visitors from 40 to 50 countries. The programme has been put together by about one hundred guest planners. The week will showcase lectures from keynote speakers such as data visualisation guru Hans Rosling, Chairman of the European Network of Living Labs Jarmo Eskelinen and Senior Vice President for the International Budget Partnership Warren Krafchik, says Nissilä.
The festival includes more than 170 programme sessions full of speeches, panel discussions, workshops, programming sessions and satellite events. In addition to the main organisers, The Finnish Institute in London, Aalto Media Factory and the Open Knowledge Foundation, around two hundred programme planners, speakers and volunteers as well as a long list of partner organisations have been involved in making the festival happen.
But how exactly did the festival end up in Finland?
― Finland has historically been a pioneer in openness and transparency and we have a genuine culture of working together. Helsinki 2012 Design Capital offered the event an interesting backdrop and the theme for the year ‘Open Helsinki’ shows that openness is on everybody’s minds, Nissilä responds.