OKFestival 2014: we made it! A write-up & Thank You note

Open Knowledge Festival 2014! We built it, made it and ran it – it was a blast, thank you!

  • 1056 participants from 60 countries
  • 215 facilitators and moderators
  • 17 Programme Team members
  • 70 volunteers

made it all happen. Who says that numbers are dry? Just by writing them down, our hearts are melting.

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Group work! – Pic by Gregor Fischer

Six weeks have passed since the end of OKFestival 2014, many of you participated in our feedback survey, we all caught up with the lack of sleep and are now hard at work with the public post-event report which will be shared on the festival website in the next few weeks (keep your eyes peeled!).

At the festival, we tried a lot of experiments, and experimenting is both risky and thrilling – and you were up for the challenge! So we thought it was time to take a moment to have a look at what we built together and celebrate the challenges we bravely took on and the outcomes that came out of them (and, yes, there are also learnings from things which could have gone better – is there any event with bullet-proof WiFi? can a country not known to be tropical and not used to air conditioning experience a heat wave on the 2 days out of 365 when you’ll run an event?)

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Rocking selfies! – Pic by Burt Lum

Summing it up:

  • an event for the whole open movement: we were keen to be the convenor of a global gathering, welcoming participants from all around the world and a multitude of folks from open communities, organisations, small and big NGOs, governments, grassroots initiatives as well as people new to the topic and willing to dive in. We wanted to create an environment connecting diverse audiences, thus enabling a diverse groups of thinkers, makers and activists to come together and collaborate to effect change.

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Ory Okolloh & Rufus Pollock fireside chat – Pic by Gregor Fischer

  • hands-on and outcome-driven approach: we wanted the event to be an opportunity to get together, make, share and learn with – and from – each other and get ready to make plans for what comes next. We didn’t want the event to be simply wonderful, we also wanted it to be useful – for you, your work and the future of the open movement. We’ve just started sharing a selection of your stories on our blog and more is yet to come this month, with the launch of our public post-OKFestival report, filled out with outcome stories you told us in the weeks after the event – who you met, what did you start to plan, what’s the new project coming out of the festival you’re already working on as we speak!

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Meeting, talking, connecting! – Pic by Gregor Fischer

  • narrative streams: We made a bold choice – no streams-by-topic, but streams following a narrative. The event was fuelled by the theory that change happens when you bring together knowledge – which informs change – tools – which enable change – and society – which effects change. The Knowledge, Tools and Society streams aimed to explore the work we do and want to develop further beyond the usual silos which streams-by-topic could have created. Open hardware and open science, open government and open sustainability, open culture and open source, arts and privacy and surveillance.

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Your vote, your voice! – Pic by Gregor Fischer

  • crowd sourced programme and participatory formats and tools (and powerpoints discouraged): We encouraged you to leave the comfort zone with no written presentations to read in sync with slides, but instead to create action-packed sessions in which all participants were contributing with their knowledge to work to be done together. We shared tips and tricks about creation and facilitation of such formats and hosted hangouts to help you propose your ideas for our open call – and hundreds of community members sent their proposals! Also, in the most participatory of the spirits, OKFestival also had its own unconference, the unFestival run by the great DATA Uruguay Team, who complemented our busy core programme with a great space where anyone could pitch and run her/his own emerging session on the spot, to give room and time to great new born ideas and plans. And a shout out also goes to a couple of special tools: our etherpads – according to the OKFestival Pad of Pads 85 pads have been co-written and worked with – and our first code of collaboration which we hope will accompany us also in future ventures!

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Green volunteering power – always on! – Pic by Gregor Fischer

  • diversity of backgrounds, experiences, cultures, domains: months before we started producing the festival, we started to get in touch with people from all around the world who were running projects we admired, and with whom we’d never worked together before. This guided us in building a diverse Programme Team first, and receiving proposals and financial aid applications from many new folks and countries later on. This surely contributed to the most exciting outcome of all – having a really international crowd of the event, people from 60 countries, speaking dozens of different languages. Different backgrounds enriched everybody’s learning and networking and nurtured new collaborations and relationships.

Wow, that was a journey. And it’s just the beginning! As we said, OKFestival aimed to be the fuel, the kick-off, the inspiration for terrific actions and initiatives to come and now it’s time to hear some of most promising stories and project started there!

You can start having taste following the ever-growing OKFestival Stories article series on our blog and be ready for more, when in the next weeks we’ll publish more outcomes, interviews, quotes and reports from you, the protagonists of it all.

Thank you again, and see you very soon!

Your OKFestival Team

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