Free Knowledge Institute


The Free Knowledge Institute (FKI, @fkinstitute) is a non-profit organisation that fosters equal access to tools for production and exchange of knowledge in all areas of society. Inspired by the Free Software movement, the FKI promotes freedom of use, modification, copying and distribution of knowledge in several different but closely related fields. Accordingly, it promotes the commons economy.

Starting with a small but inspired and dynamic team with a shared vision for the future, the FKI plays a key role in effecting a free knowledge society. The role requires an institute which is sustainable, efficient, and effective in its own right as it inspires and enables growth of free knowledge communities in multiple domains.

The FKI is a platform for people interested in working on this vision together. In order to be effective and cater to the interests of potential participants, it aims to provide tools for self-organising and empowerment.

FKIs domains of interest include the commons economy, free software, free/open standards, free/open education and free culture. New areas now being explored include free knowledge in science, free/open hardware design and renewable energy. One of the main assets of the organisation is an extensive network of contacts in the ICT industry, governmental institutions at national and European level, educational institutions and civil society organisations and online development communities.

The FKI is a hub connecting networks and communities in multiple domains facilitating and enabling the study, sharing and collaborative development of free knowledge and free technologies for a socially just, free knowledge society.

The Free Knowledge Institute values freedom and sustainability through collaboration and empowerment. For such global cooperation to be effective, citizens (of the world) must be free to share and adapt knowledge resources. We see four main barriers which need to be overcome for this process to be successful:

  1. the artificial scarcity of immaterial goods (including software and other digital resources, ideas and knowledge), that have been privatised by "intellectual monopolies" using patents and copyright
  2. the false conception that there is an abundance of material goods (environmental resources)
  3. the belief in continual growth as a requirement for a functioning economy.
  4. the lack of awareness and guidance on what available knowledge is most relevant to moving the global knowledge society towards a path of sustainability.

The FKI community engages in discussion, learning activities and advocacy around contemporary issues such as copyright reform, software and other questionable patents, proposed legislation which restricts citizens' freedom to participate in a free culture, use of free software in education and the public sector, and free knowledge for global sustainability.

Sharing knowledge and collective innovations are also emerging in the realms of physical goods and energy production. In practical terms, the FKI explores and educates organisations about new horizontal forms of organisation, peer production, do-it-yourself, self-organisation and different ownership and governance models, such as the commons. FKI's emphasis on education comes from the need to bring organisations and educational institutions in line with societal and market needs in the context of digital technologies and on-line social networks. The FKI has been long advocating the use of free educational materials and open educational resources (OER); and it has actively contributed to the development of models for the sustainable production and maintenance of OER.

Past activities of the FKI

Since its creation in 2007, the FKI has coordinated several international projects in the areas of Free Software, Open Standards, Open Educational Resources, Access to Knowledge. Through these activities the FKI core team has increased its experience  and built a considerable international network of partners and peers from research and educational institutions, industry and third sector organisations. The main projects on which the FKI has worked include, but are not limited to:

  • The SELF Project, funded with 1M€ by the IST Programme from the FP6 (2006-2008). SELF laid the foundations for the collaborative production of educational materials on free software and open standards, which have been reused in various other projects.
  • The Free Culture Forum: an initiative to develop policy recommendations in the area of Free Culture, Innovation and the Knowledge Society.

  • The Open Document Society: a non-profit organisation that promotes the use of Open Standards in general and the Open Document Format (ODF) in particular.

  • OpenSE: an EC-funded project for open education about Computer Science and Software Engineering.
    Several other networks of individuals and organisations that are active in similar fields.

  • The Free Technology Academy project (FTA), funded by LLP between 2008-2010. The FTA has continued its activity after the completion of the EC funding period, and parts of it were incorporated into the official programmes of several universities. Together with the FTA partner network and community of learners and educators, the FKI fulfills a role of legal host and steward towards a self-sustainable community.
  • The Comunificadora: a start-up impulse programme for the commons collaborative economy for the Barcelona local development agency; it supports enterpreneurial teams to define their collaborative business model with maximum potential for community benefit and involvement.

  • The femProcomuns cooperative: a cooperative platform that facilitates its members to develop commons oriented open business models.

Role in the DiDIY project

Inside the DiDIY project FKI has been leading the investigation of the legal framework where DiDIY will move (WP6 - rights and responsibilities) and the dissemination of results to the relevant communities (WP8). FKI will also contributed to the research and other activities of the other Work Packages and Transversal Tasks.