Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Registry of open-knowledge projects

The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) has officially launched its Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN).  From yesterday's announcement:

After a year of (off and on) development we are delighted today to announce the official launch of the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN for short):

CKAN is a registry of open knowledge packages and projects — be that a set of Shakespeare’s works, a global population density database, the voting records of MPs, or 30 years of US patents.

CKAN is the place to search for open knowledge resources as well as register your own....

CKAN is a key part of our long-term roadmap and completes our work on the first layer of open knowledge tools:

CKAN links in especially closely with our recent discussions of componentization: we envision a future in which open knowledge is provided in a much more componentized form (packages) so as to facilitate greater reuse and recombination similar to what occurs with software today (see the recent XTech presentation for more details). For this to occur we need to make it much easier for people to share, find, download, and ‘plug into’ the open knowledge packages that are produced. An essential first step in achieving this is to have a metadata registry where people can register their work and where relevant metadata (both structured and unstructured) can be gradually added over time....

[T]his [is a] beta version...and we look to user feedback (and we include ourselves here as users) to determine the future direction of development of the system.


What kinds of things do you expect people to register in CKAN?

Anything and everything — when we say knowledge we mean any kind of content, data or information. That said there are two main recommendations regarding what you register:

  • First, we are looking for people to register ‘packages’ that is collections with some kind of structure rather than individual items. So a substantial set of photos, a datasets of all kinds, the writings of Shakespeare but not an individual blog, or your flickr photo collection (unless it is really big!).
  • Second, we’re looking for stuff that’s open: that is material that people are free to use, reuse and redistribute without restriction (other than, perhaps, a requirement to share-alike).

Why Not Just Use the Creative Commons Search Facility in Google/Yahoo/etc

Two main reasons:

  1. We focus on work that is open. Simply put the set of open work and the set of CC-licensed works are not identical because (a) not all Creative Commons licensed work is open (for example those which use the non-commercial provision are not) and (b) there are plenty of open works which do not use CC licenses (e.g. Wikipedia)

  2. The registry is designed to support holding much more metadata than simply whether the work is open on not. In particular we want to be able to support automated installation of knowledge packages in the future (which requires things like dependency and version information)....