Free Knowledge Institute

Introduction

The Free Knowledge Institute (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.

Role in the DiDIY project

Inside the DiDIY project FKI will lead the investigation of the legal framework where DiDIY will move (WP6) and the dissemination of results to the more suitable communities (WP8). FKI will also contribute to the research and other activities of all the other Work Packages and Transversal Tasks.

Impact: