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Open Knowledge Foundation: Code for Ghana Open Data Day 2016

Wed, 2016-04-06 13:03

This blog post was written by Florence Abena Toffa from Code for Ghana. 

The International Open Data Day is a gathering of citizens in various cities around the world to write applications, liberate data, create visualizations and publish analysis of  open public data. This year, we partnered with National Information Technology Agency (NITA) to provide us with Ghana’s election datasets for the hackathon.


Code for Ghana’s theme for this year’s event was: Open Data for a free and fair 2016 election. The people of Ghana are going to the polls again this year. Since 1992, Ghana has been among the countries that have had peaceful elections and successful change of governments in Africa. Usually, the atmosphere is unpredictable. Also, elections reportage is often bereft of data analysis and visualisations. The benefit of hindsight provides an enormous opportunity to even predict future events. The goal of the hackathon was to empower the youth to understand election trends and contribute to it through data analysis and visualisations. This will help to understand election issues better.


We had a total of 21 participants and as early as 8 am participants started trickling in, most of whom were software developers, CSOs and data enthusiasts. Among the attendees were two young ladies who exhibited unwavering enthusiasm in open data and data visualization and one guest  came all the way from Togo to attend the event. The hackathon started with a brief introduction to the Code for Ghana election project by Florence Toffa, the project manager. Also, in attendance was the Open Data 233 team led by Raindolf Owusu. They gave a brief presentation on their election project  and how it is aimed at keeping a vigilant eye on the 2016 election proceedings and also to enhance public participation in politics. Participants were introduced to the various open data tools and libraries available to use to analyse election data. They were then divided into teams to brainstorm on election ideas. We had four main projects in total. Below are the various projects that were done.

The first group created a web platform displaying data visualizations of results of the 2008 general elections. They focused on the 3 major political parties in the country: NDC, NPP and the CPP. The datasets used were very detailed, covering election results from all the regions in the country – constituency by constituency. At the bottom of the home page, they provided an overall visualization of the 2008 elections. The project is hosted here;

Ghana’s 2008 Presidential election results


<noscript>&lt;a href=&#8217;http:&amp;#47;&amp;#47;;#47;greater.html&#8217;&gt;&lt;img alt=&#8217;Sheet 2 &#8216; src=&#8217;http:&amp;#47;&amp;#47;;#47;static&amp;#47;images&amp;#47;20&amp;#47;2008ElectionsResultsGreaterAccra&amp;#47;Sheet2&amp;#47;1_rss.png&#8217; style=&#8217;border: none&#8217; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;</noscript>


Figure 1 – Results for the greater Accra region

The second group also studied the Presidential election results of the NDC and NPP from 2000 – 2012. Their main aim was to discover patterns in order to make predictions in this year’s elections. We asked Abubakar Siddique (the leader) to give us an overview of their project and this is what he had to say:

For example NPP have always won the Ashanti and Eastern region, also they have only lost in the Western region and Brong Ahafo once since 2000 (for the years we have studied). Also NDC have never lost in Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions since 2000 (also for the years we have studied).

It is important to emphasize that we did not intentionally decide to study just NDC and NPP, but this was due to the fact that as we were studying to obtain regional victories and after 2000 and 2004 analysis, it quickly became a competition between the two. From our analysis the ruling party has to work super hard to maintain power.

Fig 2. NDC’s presidential election results in 2000

The third group, made up of two ladies, looked at the correlation between rejected ballot papers over the election periods and voter literacy in the country. Based on this analysis, they will predict the occurrence rate of rejected votes in this year’s election.

The last group developed an SMS app to check election results.

The outcome of the hackathon was great. Code For Ghana will be working with Open Data 233 on their election project. Some of the interesting projects from this hackathon will be integrated into their platform. Two of the projects are still work in progress and as soon as they are finished, we will partner with other organisations to launch these projects. We have also established a good relationship with our Togo attendee who wants to start an open data initiative in his country.  It was a great event and you can get all the pictures here ; Flickr. Thanks to Open Knowledge International for supporting us with the mini-grant.

Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review of "Library Analytics and Metrics"

Wed, 2016-04-06 08:17
Robert J. Vander Hart

Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review of "Responsive Web Design in Practice"

Wed, 2016-04-06 08:17
Rachel E. Vacek

Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review "Mobile Technologies for Every Library"

Wed, 2016-04-06 08:16
Mat T. Wilson

DuraSpace News: The DSpace Community Comes Together Around a New Vision and Mission Statement

Wed, 2016-04-06 00:00

Austin, TX  The DSpace community has adopted a new mission and vision statement developed by the mission and vision working group based on background work completed by the community over the past several years.

DuraSpace News: OR2016 keynotes and Accepted Contributions Announced; Early Bird Deadline is April 13

Wed, 2016-04-06 00:00

From Dermot Frost, Chair, OR2016 Host Committee and David Minor, Matthias Razum, and Sarah Shreeves, Co-Chairs, OR2016 Program Committee

Dublin, Ireland  Open Repositories 2016–to be held in Dublin, Ireland June 13th-16th–is pleased to announce our opening and closing keynote speakers - Laura Czerniewicz and Rufus Pollock. Read below for more information about both.

Open Knowledge Foundation: Diplohack in Brussels – The first hack in the Council of the European Union

Tue, 2016-04-05 22:27

For the first time in history, we can hack from inside the Council of the European Union building! Join us at #Diplohack in Brussels in the Council of the European Union on the 29-30 of April.

We invite everyone to take part, whether you’re a diplomat, developer, designer, citizen, student, journalist or activist. We will connect different profiles together in teams to use European data for good.

The idea is that you create a prototype or MVP (minimum viable product) with this data in just 24 hours that is focused on transparency and decision-making. We will support you in any way possible, explain the data and help you get started.

Diplohack, as the hackathon is called, forms part of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union transparency strategy. The Brussels diplohack will run for 24 hours straight and is part of the several Diplohacks across Europe. Those hackathons intend to make the EU more transparent.

Tech developers, EU diplomats, journalists, citizen activists, social entrepreneurs, data experts and many more will join forces and think of transparency applications to make decision making in the EU searchable and understandable.

Everybody interested in the EU data can enter the hackathon. The winners of the diplohack will be invited to compete in a European final in Amsterdam during the TransparencyCamp Europe Unconference.

The Diplohack event is organised the Council of the European Union, the Dutch EU Presidency and Open Knowledge Belgium. Get your free ticket for the #Diplohack!

The Diplohack will be preceded by the Webinar with EU data experts to explain more about the data. You can join even if you don’t participate in the Diplohack itself. Register here. Check or the discuss forum thread more info on the programme and the Eventbrite page for more practical information.

District Dispatch: Reminder: CopyTalk this Thursday with the Libertarians

Tue, 2016-04-05 21:14

From Lotus Head

This month’s CopyTalk will be unlike any before.  This one will be about our understanding of what copyright is and why we have it in the first place.  That’s right, we’re talking copyright policy. ALA’s policy is that copyright was created by Congress to advance the dissemination of information, creative arts, and knowledge for the benefit of the public. Libraries are important vehicles for advancing the purpose of copyright because they are sites of learning and personal enrichment. We lawfully acquire copyright resources so more people have access to them.  We replace and preserve these resources under copyright exceptions also to benefit the public.  We do other things as well, but this is meant to be a short blog post.

Of course, copyright means different things to different people and stakeholder groups. This Thursday, libertarians from R Street will share their thoughts on ways to look at U.S. copyright policy.  Join us for a wonky time!

Thursday, April 7th 2016 2pm (Eastern)/11am (Pacific) use this URL to access the webinar. Register as a guest and you’re in.  Yes, it’s still FREE because the Office for Information Technology Policy and the Copyright Education Subcommittee want to expand copyright awareness and education opportunities.

And yes, we archive the webinars!

The post Reminder: CopyTalk this Thursday with the Libertarians appeared first on District Dispatch.

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: pycounter - 0.13.0

Tue, 2016-04-05 20:23

Last updated April 5, 2016. Created by wooble on April 5, 2016.
Log in to edit this page.

Package: pycounterRelease Date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016

NYPL Labs: Together We Listen: Make Hundreds of NYC Stories Accessible—One Word at a Time

Tue, 2016-04-05 16:05

The following blog post is co-authored by Willa Armstrong (NYPL Labs) and Alex Kelly (Adult Programming and Outreach Services).

Are you familiar with the NYPL Community Oral History Project? Take a few moments to listen to some highlights or just dive right into our full collection of stories.

The NYPL Community Oral History Project is truly the people’s project. It’s powered by the public, as hundreds of engaged community members come together to gather oral histories from each other in order to preserve the rich and constantly changing history of New York City. Beginning in 2013 at Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village and building momentum, oral histories have been collected in six additional neighborhoods. Visible Lives, an oral history project on the disability experience is another large scale collection effort, based out of Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library. Read more about our growing collection at

To date, the Community Oral History collection contains over 1,000 stories, with more on the way! This is very exciting, but here’s the issue: We’re faced with the challenge of making this large corpus of audio accessible and searchable to the public. It’s a challenge faced by many organizations and institutions with audio-based collections and archives.

When working to make audio accessible, transcripts are important because they make audio content searchable online, and accessible to people with hearing disabilities. Recent advances in speech-to-text technologies have made great progress in opening audio to the web, but the transcripts they produce are still error-prone and can only be considered first drafts. Though they’re a good start, careful human editing is required to provide polish these computer-generated drafts and ensure accurate, high quality transcripts.

So, how are we going to transcribe these hundreds of audio hours quickly and cost effectively?  People and computers need to collaborate.

And this brings us to our big announcement: NYPL Labs has built a brand new Open Transcript Editor to engage the public in helping to make our oral history collection accessible—one word at a time. The Open Transcript Editor is an interactive transcript editor allowing multiple people to perform the final layer of polish and proofreading on computer-generated transcripts. It’s a big undertaking and we’re inviting the public to pitch in and help correct computer-generated transcripts from our NYPL Community Oral History Project.

Visit to get started and help make this public treasure trove of NYC stories accessible.

Since we’re not the only ones tackling this challenge, the NYPL has teamed up with The Moth, a live storytelling organization with its own growing audio archive, for Together We Listen, a community program that invites our respective audiences to correct transcripts online using this new tool. To get our initial, computer-generated transcripts, both partners have sent their stories through Pop Up Archive, a speech-to-text service that works extensively with the public media and cultural heritage sectors. This project was made possible with generous support provided by the Knight Foundation Protoype Fund, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Open Transcript Editor codebase itself is open source and is available to be used and further developed around other audio archives.

Anyone can contribute to this effort online and, for the first time ever, NYPL is also organizing in-person events at various library locations to encourage people to get together and help transcribe the oral histories for their own communities. We hope you can join us at an event in your neighborhood!

By editing transcripts, you're helping to create truly accurate transcripts in order to share hundreds of stories from the ongoing Community Oral History Project. Once they have been edited with agreement from enough contributors, completed transcripts will be available to read and download at, along with the audio recordings.

Pitch in now: Tune in and transcribe!   Join the Together We Listen project!

Join our initiative to make New York City history accessible one story at a time! We've partnered with The Moth to create a transcription tool that will allow you to help us improve upon computer-generated transcripts for over 1,000 stories from our Community Oral History Project. Be a part of history today:

Posted by NYPL The New York Public Library on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Want to receive updates about NYPL digital initiatives? Sign up for our e-mail newsletter.

David Rosenthal: The Curious Case of the Outsourced CA

Tue, 2016-04-05 15:00
I took part in the Digital Preservation of Federal Information Summit, a pre-meeting of the CNI Spring Membership Meeting. Preservation of government information is a topic that the LOCKSS Program has been concerned with for a long time; my first post on the topic was nine years ago. In the second part of the discussion I had to retract a proposal I made in the first part that had seemed obvious. The reasons why the obvious was in fact wrong are interesting. The explanation is below the fold.

One major difficulty in preserving the Federal Web presence is finding it. The idea that all Federal websites live under .gov or .mil, or even that somewhere in the Federal government is a complete, accurate and up-to-date list of them is just wrong. How does a Web crawler know that some random site in .com, .org or .us is actually part of the Federal Web presence?

Connecting to GeoTrustIn a praiseworthy attempt to protect Federal websites from the all-powerful Chinese hackers and the dreaded terrorists, a decree as gone forth that, come December 31st this year, all of them must be HTTPS-only. An HTTPS website must have a certificate carrying a chain of signatures terminating in one from a root Certificate Authority (CA) that browsers trust. Here, for example, is the website of GeoTrust, a commercial CA that browsers trust. The certificate chain is:
  • is certified by:
  • GeoTrust Extended Validation SHA256 SSL CA, which is certified by:
  • GeoTrust Primary Certification Authority G3, which is a CA browsers trust.
The list of CAs that my Firefox trusts is here, all 188 of them. Note that because GeoTrust is in the list, it can certify its own website. I wrote about the issues around CAs back in 2013, notably that:
  • The browser trusts all of them equally.
  • The browser trusts CAs that the CAs on the list delegate trust to. Back in 2010, the EFF found more than 650 organizations that Internet Explorer and Firefox trusted.
  • Commercial CAs on the list, and CAs they delegate to, have regularly been found to be issuing false or insecure certificates.
Among the CAs on the list are agencies of many governments, such as the Dutch, Chinese, Hong Kong, and Japanese governments.

I assumed that the US government would be on the list too. My obvious idea was that government websites outside .gov and .mil could be found by crawling other domains looking for HTTPS sites whose certificate's signature chain ended at the US government root CA. This would solve a big problem for collecting and preserving Federal government information. Alas, I under-estimated the mania for outsourcing government functions to for-profit companies.

Connecting to the LoC websiteAs an example, visit Your browser will be redirected to, the home page of the Library of Congress website. It will display a green padlock icon,showing that the connection is secure and the browser has verified the certificate upon which the connection's security depends. So far so good. Now click on the green padlock and reveal the details of this verification. The certificate chain looks like:
  • * is certified by:
  • Entrust Certification Authority - L1K, which is certified by:
  • Entrust Root Certification Authority G2, which is on the browser's trusted CA list.
What this means is that the Library of Congress is paying a commercial CA to reassure citizens that their website is what it claims to be, and is secure.

Connecting to the DHS websiteIf you visit you will be redirected to but unlike the Library of Congress you won't get the reassuring green padlock. There are two reasons:
  • The images in the page are delivered via HTTP, so:
    Your connection to this site is private, but someone on the network might be able to change the look of the page.
  • The browser doesn't like the HTTPS connection because:
    Your connection to is encrypted using an obsolete cipher suite.
But the browser has verified the signature chain. It looks like:
  • is certified by:
  • GeoTrust SSL CA - G3, which is certified by:
  • GeoTrust Global CA, which is on the browser's trusted CA list.
So the Department of Homeland Security is paying a different commercial CA to reassure citizens that their website is what it claims to be, and that it is not very secure.

Why is this? Is it because the Library of Congress believes that Entrust is more trustworthy than the US Government? I hope not, Entrust is one of the CAs whose delegated CAs have been caught issuing bogus certificates. It is because, as far as I can tell, the list of 188 CAs that browsers trust contains no US Government controlled CA.

So, your browser trusts the government of the People's Republic of China but not the government of the United States of America!

It isn't that the Federal government doesn't trust itself to run a secure root CA. There is a Federal root CA, the Common Policy Root CA, which is clearly regarded as secure since it is used to control access to Federal systems. But it isn't in the browser's list of trusted CAs, so it isn't any use for outward-facing services such as websites. If it was Federal websites could be Federally certified as GeoTrust websites are GeoTrust certified.

In what world does this make sense? One in which there's money to be made selling services to the Federal government. By failing to follow the example of other governments by putting a root CA that they control into the list, the government arranges for funds to flow to for-profit companies who can protect the cash flow by lobbying, and arranging a warm welcome on the other side of the revolving door for the decision makers. All the for-profit CAs need to do is to make sure they stay in GSA's list of approved vendors, like DigiCert.

So, apart from the waste of taxpayer money, and the failure of my idea for finding government websites, what is the downside of this situation? CAs sometimes misbehave, as DigiNotar and StartSSL did. The result is a dispute between the guilty CAs and the browser vendors, resolved by removing them from the list, as StartSSL was, or by explicitly distrusting their root certificates, as DigiNotar's were. If this happened to one of the CAs Federal websites use, the dispute to which the Feds were not a party would result in the websites using the guilty CA becoming unavailable until the affected certificates could be replaced with new ones from a different CA in GSA's list. The browser vendors control the trusted CA list, so among other things they control citizens' access to government information. Since they're all based in the US, there would be good reasons why they'd be reluctant to remove a US government CA from the list.

I'm naturally reluctant to trust the Federal government, but I'm a whole lot more reluctant to trust for-profit CAs. It looks like I'm out of luck; the policy about public access to the Federal root CA is up on the Web:
Does the US government operate a publicly trusted certificate authority?

No, not as of early 2016, and this is unlikely to change in the near future.

The Federal PKI root is trusted by some browsers and operating systems, but is not contained in the Mozilla Trusted Root Program. The Mozilla Trusted Root Program is used by Firefox, as well as a wide variety of devices and operating systems. This means that the Federal PKI is not able to issue certificates for use in TLS/HTTPS that are trusted widely enough to secure a web service used by the general public.

The Federal PKI has an open application to the Mozilla Trusted Root Program. However, even if the Federal PKI’s application is accepted, it will take a significant amount of time for the Federal PKI’s root certificate to actually be shipped onto devices and propagate widely around the world.