/ conferences, festivals, workshops, research projects and advocacy campaigns i have coordinated for communities in Canada, England, Finland and other spaces worldwide, merging the digital with the physical.
For most of 2012, my life revolved around a commute between Helsinki in London with a small core team of visionaries while we coordinated the first-ever Open Knowledge Festival, a highly experimental event run on a shoestring budget with a crowdsourced programme. From a homemade presentation on Slideshare that got 250k views in 2 months to the 13 public-run Topic Streams to the book that was published afterward, the event defied all of our expectations. It sold out, made serious waves in indie and mainstream media and was by all accounts a spectacular success for Finnish and international guests alike. It was an inspiring, stressful, challenging and amazing journey.
"For the past month since the last OKFestival 2012 pioneers departed from Helsinki’s misty shores, I’ve been wondering how to breach the topic of a “thank you” message to the remarkable community that made this all possible…
Indeed, how does one adequately thank the 1,000+ physical participants from over 50 nations who resulted in a completely sold out event? Or the 12,000 viewers of our online video streams who augmented the festival’s programming? Or the 214,000 cyberspace warriors who shared our OKFestival Slideshare Presentation worldwide? How about those who flooded Twitter with over 18,000 #okfest tweets and those who published articles and blog posts on their own time, for more than 200 features in mainstream and indie media? And how about the festival’s 100 Guest Programme Planners, 60 #OKFestCrew volunteers, 400+ session facilitators, satellite event planners and keynote speakers, featuring 300 presentations? This was the first event of its kind to address open knowledge on such a large scale – and its overwhelming success has marked a significant push forward for open knowledge movements both in Finland and abroad.”
In 2012 at the annual Re:Publica tech and media conference in Berlin, Germany, I co-hosted a workshop for community organisers along with Mark Brough from Publish What You Fund entitled “Hacking #OpenData for Communities”. In this critical and participatory session, we facilitated a series of group discussions about the challenges of building active communities in tech movements for social change.
"It has become increasingly evident over the past five years that the number of people working with open data has increased, with hundreds of data catalogues being released in the last year alone [http://datacatalogs.org/] and collaborative definitions of ‘openness’ being translated around the globe [http://opendefinition.org]. But challenges remain, especially regarding growing disparities of access to digital technologies amongst non-techies — a problem that has sometimes resulted in the condemnation of existing initiatives for perpetuating an “Open Data Divide.” If the open data movement is about providing more information to more communities in order to advance positive social change, how can we engage disenfranchised groups on the other side of such a problematic divide?”
In 2011, I was one of the core planners (and the graphic designer) of Open Government Data Camp in Warsaw, Poland - the world’s biggest government data event to date. OGDCamp brought over 400 representatives of more than 40 nations to a set of post-industrial warehouses at centre for digital culture Centrum Cyfrowe for two days of collaborative talks, project sprints, hackathons and workshops. While the event’s mixture of planned and unconference-style presentations posed quite an organisational challenge, participant reception was widely positive, garnering a series of press features and enthusiasm for the next instalment.
Event press, photography, multimedia and summaries are listed on the OGDCamp After Page. Photos of our production and set-up process in Warsaw are available on Flickr.
“Every community needs a big event to bring everyone together every year. Just like every family has a Christmas party, where all are welcome, regardless of what happened during the year. The OGD Camp is the open data community’s Christmas party. I can’t wait ’till next Christmas.” — Ton Zijlstra, ePSIplatform.eu, Netherlands
“[I loved] the ‘gathering of the tribes’. It was wonderful to meet similar projects, the scholars, and the politicians supporting them. And the venue – the M25 was incredibly cool.” — Iván Sánchez, Open Street Map, Spain
“I came to OGDCamp to meet people who were working with city government and were involved with changing perception of open practices in their own communities – and this is where I think the power of OGDCamp and similar events lie.” — Julian Tate, FutureEverything, United Kingdom
In 2011, a group of Open Knowledge Foundation colleagues and I organised a set of three events in London called #OpenDataLDN, a participatory meetup series focused on giving Londoners the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse network of open data and free culture enthusiasts across professional paradigms, from academia to science to culture to government.
Each meetup packed our venue space at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, but it was at the third #OpenDataLDN event with over 80 participants that we really experienced the start of a community. Invited speakers for this series included Wikimedia’s Oliver Keyes, the UK National Archives’ Jo Pugh, Open Data Manchester's Julian Todd, the University of Westminster's Kevin Carter and Prism's Keiichi Matsuda.
Article excerpt: “Walking around the space, I was impressed by the diversity of backgrounds and skill-sets represented in each group. With economists talking to artists and government representatives, and public domain enthusiasts discussing transport with open aid advocates and scientists, it seemed everyone present had something interesting to add. By the end of the night there was an infectious feeling of positivity and mutual respect in the air that carried on to the pub afterward as people continued to jam on ideas and schemed about new collaborations.”
In August of 2010 I co-organized a new event series focused on collaboration and media innovation called ‘ReMixology’ with the Fresh Media collective. Entitled “Toward Cooperative Media Making: How can professional and citizen journalists collaborate?”, the event was moderated by the Vancouver Sun's Dig Life columnist Gillian Shaw and featured a talk by Kris Krug about his experiences with the BP oil spill. The salon, held at the W2 Community Media Centre, was sold out, and due to its positive reception it became the first of a successful series of bi-monthly ReMixology media salons.
CONFERENCE PRODUCTION: FRESH MEDIA OLYMPICS, VANCOUVER
In February of 2010, as a co-founder of Fresh Media, I was one of the core organisers of a hybrid conference entitled “Fresh Media Olympics” held at the W2 Woodwards Media + Art Centre in downtown Vancouver, Canada. The event saw a packed house of bloggers, social media lovers, civil servants, activists and citizen journalists discussing how the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was affected by the city’s advancements in democratic citizen-fronted medias.
As a feature of this event, I also facilitated a participation-focused panel discussion about hands-on examples of how traditional and non-traditional media outlets have capitalized on the Olympics megamachine, featuring four individuals who were successful in activating media to get involved in their projects and activism during the Games.
In November of 2009, a small team of colleagues and I organised an interactive hybrid conference, the first of its kind in Canada, entitled ForeignPolicyCamp along with Canada’s World and a set of national partners. The conference was based on a participatory ethos aimed to engage campers in new and innovative ways through a variety of collaborative digital and physical formats, from regional case studies to publicly pitched sessions to multimedia mashboards to webinars.
Over 300 policymakers, civil servants and students from across Canada were in attendance, and a high level of satisfaction was cited in event feedback mediums from participants of all ages. Click here to watch a documentary released in Vancouver about ForeignPolicyCamp and our planning process.
In June of 2010, I ran a community workshop at ChangeCamp in Vancouver with Amanda McCuaig about why some of us had created media/arts collective Fresh Media, and how the collaborative remixing of media cultures was so important for Millennial-aged Vancouverites. We also spoke about Fresh Media’s then-upcoming public salon series, Remixology. Photo credits: Jenny Lee Silver.
WEBINAR: FOREIGN POLICY CAMP DIGITAL TOOLS, VANCOUVER
In 2010, one of my roles as an organizer of the multimedia-heavy hybrid conference ForeignPolicyCamp in Vancouver was to oversee the Web-based and digital components used in camp participation. Along with the use of an innovative multimedia ‘mashboard' by Mergenta, this included the creation of a series of YouTube-based webinar videos (link here) with the help of Canada’s World intern Leah Nielsen where I explained the digital tools and widgets we would be utilizing, with the intent of empowering those who needed additional guidance in engaging with the new technologies to be used at the camp. Participants testified a high level of satisfaction about these tutorials.
WORKSHOP FACILITATION: BC COUNCIL FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
In 2010 I led an interactive social media workshop with Shauna Sylvester for a group of BCCIC (BC Council for International Cooperation) members through my work as the Online Community Facilitator for foreign policy project Canada’s World. The focus of this session was to engage participants in learning how to use online community building to maximize Open Source Web interactions for their international development-based organizations. It was a hands-on session where I explained step-by-step how to use social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook and provided examples of successful campaigns, and participants cited a high level of satisfaction regarding knowledge and skills gained during the workshop.