Making Data Social

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In case you need some ideas to gather your local community, an event is a great way to do so. Throughout the years, the Open Knowledge International Network have developed a bunch of different events around open data and open knowledge. Some of these are in person events organized by the community, some are events that staff or communities attend and others are online events. In this section we will cover how to create these different types of events. Help us to improve this section by adding content to it using Github!


Open Knowledge Events are important for the community. Some of the opportunities include: focus attention, gather audience around specific topics and represent both the public face of the organization and its multiple projects. It is a way to help data enthusiasts meet face to face to work and learn together.

Why organize an Open Knowledge event?

While most of the network activities takes place in the virtual realm, most of the human interaction is still relying on face to face interactions. Having event helps you to grow your local community and stay connected to one another. When face to face events are not possible, virtual events can help you to boost the community, and to make sure the group is staying connected.

What are the golden rules for an event?

As a start an event need to be true to Open Knowledge values. This means that the event has to be in an open and inclusive environment that will make all participants from civil society to government, feel comfortable in the settings of the event. In addition your event should focus on results. These results can be varied, and should fit your local needs. From strengthening a local community to igniting a common passion about open data through talks and meetings, to writing a document together or to set up a workshop. In any case, before planning anything, you should ask yourself (and your co-orginisers) what you want your event’s outcome to be, and communicate it clearly. Your event will have a greater impact when you have a firm idea of what results you hope to inspire!

Prep your social media

Social media is a good tool not only to promote and event, but also to document the event itself.


  • Open a facebook page for the event.
  • Use tools like or eventbrite to keep information and registration for the event.
  • Create a hashtag for your event and tweet about it from your group twitter account
  • Blog about the event and publish it with other organizations in your area that can help you reach the crowd you are looking for.
  • If you have time, create a video to promote the event


  • Ask participants to use the hashtag to help and gather important insights during the events.
  • Take picture and upload them to Flickr.
  • Use Facebook to publish videos or photos during the event.

What could be done during an event?

The content of the event is up to its organizer – open knowledge is such a wide world, not even the sky is the limit. If you’re looking for an idea, here are some great things you might like to do:


  • Explore a topic: talks, panels, Q&As, discussions
  • Showcase projects and ideas: lighting talks, speed geeking
  • Learn together and from each other: workshops, barcamp
  • Working on a project together: text sprints, code sprints, datathons


  • Sharing: Team calls, slack updates
  • Learning: Skill share via video chat, tutorials

Of course, you can create a virtual dimension to any of the face to face activities that you run, either by adding a link to a video, or even by using twitter feed for questions time.

How many events should I run?

There is not easy answer for that. Some communities have a weekly local meetup, while others try to focus on quarterly events. You need to consult your community and see what are their needs and wants on timing and frequency of events. However, we do not recommend to run a “one time” event once a year which tend a big crowd. These events, while getting a lot of attention and crowd, can create frustration if there is no follow up on them, and as a reaction to less participation in the long run.

Don’t forget the follow up!

When an event is over, you still have work to do so you can make sure that the goals are fully acheived.

  • Write a blogpost or publish a podcast about the event so people who did not attend can catch up and that other people in the network can learn from.
  • Make a storify page to your event.
  • Send an email to participant and tell them about future projects that they can take part in.

A couple tips

  • If you run an by yourself, try to have someone to help you and have clear responsibilities. .
  • Remember that in every event there is going to be an emergency to fix.
  • Always a backup plan if too many arrive or people cancelling.
  • Stay cool, look confident, and remember that no one is going to die if it won’t be successful (at least we hope). You can freak out inside, but remember to be professional.
  • Have a debrief with your team - look at what to keep and what to improve and what is funny.