7 min. read.
Open knowledge can be described as information that is accessible, reusable, and shareable without constraints. It possesses legal and technological attributes that allow it to be accessed by anyone, anywhere, and at any time. The internet, in particular, has played a crucial role in strengthening and expanding this concept. Its ability to facilitate swift and widespread distribution of knowledge has been instrumental in its growth.
It’s important to note that the term “open knowledge” lacks a universally agreed-upon definition, given its multifaceted nature involving various ideas. However, at its essence, open knowledge represents information that evolves into a public asset. Shared ideas and information don’t depreciate in value when disseminated; rather, their reuse serves as a catalyst for the creation of more knowledge. In short, knowledge flourishes through sharing.
Open Knowledge and Its Initiatives
Open knowledge encompasses a range of initiatives aimed at making information available to the public. These initiatives span from online courses and databases to open-source software and document repositories. It stands as a fundamental element within a global movement advocating for openness economically and culturally. This movement perceives information as a communal resource, accessible to all. Its goal is to ensure universal access to knowledge, fostering collaborative solutions for the collective good.
The Open Knowledge Blog: Abierto al Público
‘Abierto al Público’, a blog by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has been committed since 2014 to producing informative articles exploring open knowledge and its intersection with economic and social development topics. We aim to provide valuable insights to our expanding readership on:
1.- The IDB’s efforts in promoting and disseminating actionable open knowledge:
- 4 Datasets to explore in Numbers for Development
- The IDB is committed to the open source model for development
- Knowledge Products – IDB
- Publications Corner (currently available only in Spanish)
2.- Topics, resources, and initiatives concerning the global opening of knowledge, with particular emphasis on social and economic development in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region:
- How Veracruz replicated the platform that opens public works
- Open Knowledge on the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Open Government – IDB
3.- Collaborative projects aimed at promoting information openness or seeking to generate solutions through the use of open knowledge:
The Influence of Open Knowledge on Social and Economic Development
What do we precisely mean when discussing the intersection of open knowledge with economic and social development? By 2018, just four years after it was born, ‘Abierto al Público’ had already cemented its position as one of the most popular blogs at the IDB. Observing the audience’s interest in topics related to knowledge openness, prompted us to conduct an exercise aimed at identifying the key themes linking open knowledge with social and economic development in the LAC region. We identified five themes that now form the pillars supporting the blog, around which we aim to create content:
- Open Learning: Since the 1970s, open learning emerged alongside the open education movement. Open education aims to question and eliminate potentially exclusionary requirements within formal schooling systems, such as entrance exams, enrollment fees, and other restrictive criteria.
- Open Source: The term “open source” refers to software whose source code has been made available to everyone free of charge and provided with licenses that facilitate its reuse or adaptation to different contexts. This concept is also related to a culture that promotes ideas exchange and values collaboration to enhance others’ code and programming practices.
- Open Data: Open data refers to digital information made available with the necessary technical and legal features, allowing its use, reuse, and redistribution freely by anyone, anytime, and from anywhere.
- Knowledge Management: Knowledge management broadly encompasses a set of activities and processes that strengthen the exchange of information and expertise within an organization or group of professionals. This aims to enhance an organization’s performance or project outcomes. Over time, this accumulation of experiences and learning serves to build a shared knowledge base, potentially facilitating work execution and accelerating innovation.
- Open Systems: It’s crucial to build solutions for social and economic challenges through improved connectivity and co-creation. This involves processes that swiftly enable the sharing of learning, scaling up successful ideas, and continuously integrating feedback to enhance outcomes. Together, we can foster open knowledge systems to inform and support more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive social and economic development, not only in Latin America and the Caribbean but worldwide.
The Path Ahead
At the IDB, and through ‘Abierto al Público,’ we firmly believe in the boundless potential of open knowledge to improve lives. We also perceive the promotion of open knowledge as a catalyst for fostering innovation, amplifying citizen participation, bolstering transparency and sparking new entrepreneurial ventures.
The IDB remains actively committed to promoting openness and the utilization of knowledge. This commitment ensures that the data, publications, code, and learning opportunities generated by the organization remain openly accessible. ‘Abierto al Público’ serves as the Bank’s platform for disseminating these initiatives. The editorial team is steadfast in its commitment to providing reliable, up-to-date information on events related to open knowledge within and outside the Bank.
The transformative potential and the myriad benefits of open knowledge are immeasurable. The opportunity lies before us to advocate for openness, analyze information, and collaborate to envision new economic and social development scenarios.
Beyond a mere concept, open knowledge is shaped by us. Open knowledge is all of us.
By Kyle Strand and Ana Ramírez, Editors of Abierto al Público.