The pain of reporting vs the joy of sharing and learning
As a Foundation, we have a responsibility to our trustees and Founder to know where our money is spent and how it has changed the landscape. The problem with reporting is that is is arduous, lengthy and rarely do we have time to garner the interesting nuances of facts and figures. It is best, imo, to report as things are happening (release early and often) whilst there is still excitement about the findings (and doings) rather than have your mind on the next prize. So…
Years ago, we used to do a monthly blog post on what the Foundation and the Fellows had been up to and we have decided to reinstate it. It is not complicated, and far more information can be found by following the specific websites themselves, but hopefully will give you a point to jump off. This post is long, b/c it looks at the first 3 months of the year, going forward it will be on a monthly basis – and shorter.
Whilst Rufus is continually flying around promoting Open Knowledge (CCSR in Manchester about Open Data, Cambridge Geek Night, Workshop at Dev8D, EPSI Platform Berlin – Open Data: Apps for Everyone?, British Library, Managing Public Sector Information, NCVO Annual Conference, JISC Annual Conference ), he also has time to implement some impressive progress on his projects.
As well as having a very simple function: to tell you what country is closest to your ideal, the app also has a very serious purpose: to help us develop a real empirical basis for the measures of development that are used to guide policy-making.
Is health more important than education, or GDP, is the amount of R&D more important than amount spent on primary education? Help us find out what the world thinks!
Open educational resources
The big thing in the world of OER’s for me – is how it is becoming the norm. The US government just ear marked a $2billion fund for the creation of OER’s and more and more institutions are changing their policies to align with open ideals.
Kathi Flecther, has started her long road of creating the OER highway to ensure that the many incompatible formats of OER’s can work together. As the popularity of OER’s increases, the need for an Open API becomes more and more crucial to the success of the ecosystem. The beginning of her work is be drawing on all of the contacts and projects she has worked for and with over the last few years to ensure that the OER highway infrastructure that she is creating will be useful for everyone.
Mark Horner continues to take his OER project Siyavula to new heights. Over the course of the next year, Siyavula will go from being a project developing OER’s for the South African education system to a for profit (profit making?) business. The business plan is in place, team on board and they are ready to go – just waiting for the paperwork to come back from the powers that be… Various different services have been added to the offering including Open Press (a web-service for the aggregation of print orders, offering users the benefit of economies of scale achieved through collaborative purchasing) and Full Marks (an open assessment bank with some tools to help educators generate tests and analyse results).
Whilst Mark is constantly in demand to talk at events such as the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative’s Think Tank – on Education, it is his routine work of weekly hackathons and evening events that continue to take up the bulk of his time (in fact, it is probably because he spends much of his time actually building the community that he is so in demand!).
P2PU is also growing up, they have completed and submitted incorporation documents for P2PU, Inc. (drafted bylaws, incorporation filing, appointed first board members, etc…) which will be based in the US, so are waiting to hear on tax exempt status from the IRS, Philipp says ‘form 1023 is a term that will strike fear in the hears of the bravest open education activist – we haven’t heard back yet, so I still only whisper it’.
A variety of important projects stem from the work of alternative higher education learning, including the work Philipp is doing on badges (accreditation systems outside of status quo). P2PU has also secured funding from the Hewlett Foundation for $400,000 over 2 years, brilliant mark of the achievements that the project has made so far.
LHC@Home processes over a billion jobs. It’s the worst-kept secret in volunteer computing: CERN’s LHC@home project is now processing real LHC physics. The volunteer computing project, which used to just help accelerator physicists tune the proton beam of the Large Hadron Collider, is now doing the sort of simulation of proton collisions which one day may help physicists spot new particles in the petabytes of data currently being produced by the world’s biggest physics experiment.
Just five years ago, experts thought running LHC physics on ordinary PCs would be impossible. But some nifty use of virtual machine technology – and says François Grey: critical sponsorship by the Shuttleworth Foundation – has removed the remaining obstacle of platform dependency. So far, this is an alpha phase, with a restricted number of volunteer computers (<100). But rapid progress in stabilizing the release means that the public launch of the project could happen by May or even earlier.
Citizen Cyberscience Centre has first annual sponsors meeting. With HP and IBM joining as project sponsors to back Shuttleworth Foundation founding sponsor, a meeting on January 20th confirmed that the centre is now more than just a concept. Projects such as Computing for Clean Water (simulating nanoscale water filters) LHC@home and Cybermappr (crowdsourced deforestation mapping) are now either running or in the pipeline. CCC events are planned in China, Taiwan, Brazil, India and South Africa.
Best of all, a talented team of young programmers from France, Spain and Ghana, also part funded by HP, assembled for the first time and developed plans for Cybermappr, a general purpose crowd-sourced mapping tool.
Brasil@home starts to take shape. The event is planned for 2-7 May. Host institutions in Rio, Sao Paulo and Brasilia confirmed, and Mozilla Foundation keen to collaborate on one or maybe even two hackfest events there. Initial contacts made with Open Society Foundation for co-funding of the events, which will have the theme of citizen-based climate science. Representatives of citizen cyberscience projects Old Weather and ClimatePrediction.net are confirmed.
Access to Knowledge
Kabir kicked off the 1st meeting of the Asia Regional Biocultural Community Protocols Initiative in Srilanka with partner organizations from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan. The aim of the meeting is to develop a strategy for supporting community based organisations within South and East Asia to develop biocultural community protocols to secure their rights to their lands and cultures.
He also organised a multistakeholder meeting in Geneva in partnership with the Union for Ethical Biotrade to develop a methodology for using biocultural community protocols to facilitate ethical trade relations between companies and communities engaged in biotrade. The meeting is a precursor to developing field based best practice examples in Madagascar, Brazil and Colombia.
A series of community meetings in the Lamu archipelago of Kenya happened, with communities developing a protocol challenging the multibillion dollar port that is being built on their lands without an environmental impact assessment or adequate consultation. The port is likely to displace thousands of people, wreak ecological havoc and disrupt the livelihoods of thousands more.
An agreement was signed between Natural Justice (the organisation Kabir co-founded) and the government of Sabah (Malaysia) to support the government in the development and implementation of laws and policies relating to community rights and biodiversity
A project in partnership with the Environmental Evaluation Unit (University of Cape Town) for the South African Department of Environmental Affairs for developing guidelines for the South African Biodiversity Act and the Bioprospecting and Access and Benefit Sharing Regulations concluded. The guidelines will be in print soon and translated into all the official South African languages. The guidelines also recommend the use of community protocols by communities to regulate access to communally held resources and knowledge
Gavin who has gained his experience with Live magazine in the UK, has now got his ‘Exceptional Skills’ visa confirmed – very good news indeed! He will be moving to South Africa on the 9th May to implement all of the work he has been planning. Part of what we push in the Fellowship is ‘living out loud’. It is vital to reflect to be able to learn and for others to learn to, Gavin has started to blog about his activities and posted his communications strategy.
There is a lot that Gavin will have to learn about being in South Africa and how it differs, but he will be able to bring a huge amount of knowledge about business models for sustainability. He was interviewed this week for a NESTA-funded book about 25 innovative business models in the ‘civic economy’.
That’s all for now folks, as I said – the post for April will be shorter – but not less action packed I hope!