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Working Group 5

FCRC2010 - COMMUNIA WG Meetings - October 7

[This page collects practical details and it's addressed to COMMUNIA Members: please, ignore it if you're not affiliated to a COMMUNIA Member Institution.]

5th Communia Workshop: papers and presentations

London School of Economics Accessing, Using, Reusing Public Sector Content and Data

The 5th COMMUNIA workshop, co-organised on 26-27 March by the Open Knowledge Foundation and London School of Economics, focused on how we can unlock the huge potential of public sector material. It also examined the current obstacles to doing this -- legal, technological and social -- as well as how they can be overcome. In particular, much of the value of public sector material can only be realized if it is reused and interlinked -- both activities that are currently difficult for a variety of legal and technological reasons.

Across the world there is a growing recognition of the social and commercial value of public sector content and data: be that the text of laws, the holdings of public museums, or the geospatial and environmental information collected by government agencies. Moreover, it is likely that better access to and use of such information is central to improving governance and increasing democratic participation. Therefore, the event focused around the claim that, wherever possible: Public sector content and data should be made available, both legally and technically, for public re-use.

A range of presentations and policy recommendations from researchers, policy-makers, stakeholders and representatives from Europe, the United States and Australia is available from the download section and by clicking on the presentations titles in the agenda below. Policy recommendations and abstracts are also available as two separated downloadable documents and a full report can be accessed here.

Proposed detailed description for the working group (submitted for approval by the group)

The public sphere is meant to designate all forms of public expressions in all
media by individuals or civil society groups, as well as the interaction
between this public space and democratic processes. The public sphere is a
major source of public domain and voluntarily shared material. If one
measures public domain contents by the time people allocate to its production
and usage, blogs and collaborative media represent a huge share of the
voluntary public domain.

WG5: The public sphere (PUBLIC) now working with WG1 (Education and science)


See WG1 page since WG5 and WG1 merged:

At the Torino meeting of COMMUNIA workshops, it was decided that since most of the ongoing or planned public sphere activities of COMMUNIA are in the field of education and science, WG5 would merge with WG1. Here is an account of the joint meeting of 28 June 2009:

As announced previously, WG1 (education + science) and WG5 (public sphere) met together Sunday 28 April in Torino. Here is a small account that can be complemented from the WG1 perspective.

We first took stock of existing COMMUNIA-related efforts for putting flesh around the Wheeler declaration:

  • As a result as the Universit√† Aperta on-line debate organized by NEXA with Sopinspace during the Biennale Democrazia in Torino (English presentation, Italian debate site), the decision was made to produce a detailed scoreboard (or questionnaire) enabling universities to position themselves on where they stand on the various criteria set in the Wheeler declaration. This effort used the co-ment Web service for collaborative discussion and drafting of the scoreboard.
  • WG1 has since the London meeting set as a target a similar effort with plans to address a wide group of European universities. WG1 used a number of Wiki pages to that effect.
  • Minciu Sodas has given thought to the definition of "grading" for individual criteria.
  • There have been discussion between Berkman, NEXA and Sopinspace of doing an on-line debate priori to the final COMMUNIA Conference which along the line of Universit√† Aperta would mobilize students, researchers, professors and staff of universities in order to get their voice on issues of innovation and knowledge sharing relayed in a structured manner at the final COMMUNIA conference.
  • The Torino meeting focused on two elements:

    • Defining a roadmap, a precise schedule until the final COMMUNIA conference for further drafting, disseminating and organizing debate around the Wheeler declaration scoreboard. The final aim is to be in a position to present at the final conference a structured picture of the European landscape as well as evidence of support of producers and users of knowledge for moving forward further.
    • Agreeing on tools and methods for the next steps.

    1. Roadmap

    The proposed plan is as follows:

    • Obtain a first collectively approved draft of the questionnaire by early September.
    • From early September to the October Barcelona meeting do 3 pilot cases of application to universities
    • At the Barcelona meeting, revise the questionnaire as needed and set an infrastructure (possibility to fill it on-line, comments on how to fill it in the form of a how-to document) and logistics for a wider scale application (100 universities ?). Predominantly focused on European universities but also open to non-European (Japan, US, Latin-America, Africa)

    • Also plans to interact with the Free Culture non-COMMUNIA meeting in Barcelona in order for core work on the Wheeler declaration to be aware of our efforts
    • At the Luxembourg (early February) workshop report on the state of potential policy recommandations and make decisions on wider scale on-line debate for the preparation of the final conference (depending on resources that can be mobilized).

    2. Early steps

    There was agreement that the further work on the questionnaire and associated how-to will proceed by using co-ment functionality encapsulated into pages of the public WG1 wiki. The details of the
    address for accessing these pages will be sent as soon as possible. Meanwhile people can keep commenting directly at Most comments from the WG1 pages have already been taken in account in the co-ment version of the questionnaire. Every member of WG1 or WG5 is supposed to go at least once per week in July to check on the draft and comment it as needed.

    It was also decided to merge the WG5 email list into the WG1 one as work is planned to be common until the end of the COMMUNIA project.

    3. Other

    There was a discussion on what is the aim of "scoring" one university. There was an apparent agreement to consider this scoring as a tool that COMMUNIA contributes to universities to help them position themselves and act accordingly. Meaning that it not an external evaluation tool aiming at ranking or labelling universities. Accordingly, the emphasis is more on scoring individual sub-criteria of the Wheeler declaration than on deriving a weighted overall score.

    There were also exchanges on how far to go into details and how to avoid the effects of a tree structure for the questionnaire (how to restructure it if appears needed from experience, how to avoid "standardizing" the approach to implementation of the Wheeler declaration,rather leaving room for various strategies of implementation.

    Older stuff

    After discussion at the Amsterdam COMMUNIA workshop in October 2008, the workgroup then decided to focus on two tasks:

    • Preparing and issuing an open call (to all interested parties) for position statements supportive of the public domain and voluntary information and knowledge sharing. Each position statement would address a given regulatory, policy or technology issue.
    • Contributing to the work now undertaken by WG6 on "Mapping the public domain" (contents, structure, players and positions, specifics of jurisdictions)

    An earlier scope definition proposal for the WG is archived here.

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Presentations, papers and other material related to COMMUNIA events are available in the download page

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