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  • “I believe we can ultimately win” – a personal recap of Rufus Pollock’s visit

    Open Knowledge founder Rufus Pollock paid us a visit on March 14. The ideas he brought left not only our community coordinator Sonja inspired (but she’s the one who wrote this recap).

    Rufus Pollock visited Vienna last week. For those of you who haven’t heard of him: He’s only the founder of Open Knowledge. The whole international network. No big deal.

    I knew of him even before I joined Open Knowledge Austria a year and a half ago, but Monday was the first time I got to meet him in person. He’s famous for his inspiring talks and tangible narratives, so I was considerably excited.

    Selfie at the MeetUp: Rufus, Sonja and Stefan. Photo cc-by Sonja Fischbauer

    After Rufus had given interviews to Austrian journalists, he sat down with the board members of Open Knowledge Austria and me for an internal meeting. We are currently reshaping our organization, redefining our goals and the means to achieve them, so his input could not have come at a better time. As of now, we are working on a manifesto, that will incorporate many new input we gained from that meeting. We’ll share it with you as soon as we’ve put our ideas into words.

    In the evening, about 25 people joined us for the MeetUp at Raum D, Museumsquartier, where Rufus shared his vision for the open movement during a fireside chat. I will not attempt to sum up everything he said (there will be an extra blog with audio and video recordings for that) – but rather share with you the essence of what I was able to take away for me, personally.

    It’s a surprise to no one: The world is changing.

    Our world is transforming from the industrial age into the information age. Information as a resource is fundamentally different from material goods: It’s got the unique ability to be in many places at once and it can even multiply when shared.

    The crucial question that’s up in the air right now is: How do we treat this new resource? Do we treat information like we treat material goods, or do we implement new rules for it’s use and distribution? This is the discussion that Open Knowledge must lead. This is our responsibility. We are creating new rules and we fight to establish them.


    It’s not an easy fight.

    Our society has had many hundreds of years to shape our ideas of ownership around the rules of material goods. So, naturally, change does not come easily. But it’s a profound thing to fight for; Nothing less than the question of how our world gets structured in the future.

    I left the evening inspired and excited. But most importantly, I was reassured that what we do is important. “Openness is a political issue of the highest order”, says Rufus. “A better world is possible, but it does take collective effort to achieve it.” We need to change peoples minds, companies’ actions and our countries’ laws and politics. There are many obstacles and it will maybe get worse before it gets better. But, Rufus adds:


    “I believe that we can ultimately win.”

    So do I.

    Join us in our quest for making the world a better place by making it open! Say hi on Twitter, come to our next MeetUp, or support us with a membership.


    You can find our more about Rufus’ ongoing projects and his vision at rufuspollock.org.

    *edit March 25: We’ve collected all links to audio recordings, photos and press coverage of the event here.*

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