The world’s first open knowledge festival

Helsinki, Finland, 2012


For most of 2012, my life revolved around a regular commute between Helsinki and London, working with a small team of wonderful humans and curating the first-ever Open Knowledge Festival, an experimental event run on a shoestring budget with a crowdsourced programme.

From a hacked-together presentation on Slideshare that got 250,000 views in 2 months to the 13 thematic areas co-designed with participants to the book published afterward, the event defied all of our expectations. The event sold out and was a great success for Finland. It was also an inspiring, stressful, challenging and amazing journey.

Perhaps that experience is best summarised in this piece written a month later:

“For the past month since the last 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 more than 50 nations who made it a completely sold out event? Or the 12,000 viewers of our video streams who participated online? Or the 214,000 cyberspace warriors who shared our initial presentation with the world? How about those who flooded Twitter with over 18,000 #okfest tweets and those who published articles and posts in more than 200 features in mainstream and indie media? How about the festival’s 100 programme planners, 60 volunteers, 400+ session facilitators?

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.”

Selected press: