Introducing Bilateral Stewardship for the CKAN Open Source Project

  • Steven and Paul
  • 20 Apr 2021
The following announcement was issued by the Open Knowledge Foundation via their blog:
The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) Board met on Monday evening to discuss the future of the CKAN Association. The Board supported the CKAN Stewardship proposal jointly put forward by Link Digitaland Datopian. As two of the longest serving members of the CKAN Community, it was felt their proposal would now move CKAN forward, strengthening both the platform and community. In appointing joint stewardship to Link Digital and Datopian, the Board felt there was a clear practical path with strong leadership and committed funding to see CKAN grow and prosper in the years to come. OKF will remain the ‘purpose trustee’ to ensure the Stewards remain true to the purpose and ethos of the CKAN project. The Board would like to thank everyone who contributed to the deliberations and we are confident CKAN has a very bright future ahead of it. If you have any questions, please get in touch with Steven de Costa, managing director of Link Digital, or Paul Walsh, CEO of Datopian, by emailing
24 hours prior to the announcement the steward organisation representatives, Paul Walsh and Steven De Costa, were informed of the OKF Board decision. At that time we requested a short delay before any public announcement so that we could each connect with key stakeholders, discuss the context of why Link Digital and Datopian had jointly submitted a stewardship proposal, and to receive feedback. Five points stood out from the feedback received:
  1. CKAN stakeholders will need to have access to the Stewardship Proposal to form their own opinion.
  2. From a few stakeholders, some general disappointment was received regarding the appointment of two commercial vendors as stewards for the project.
  3. A practical and reasonable level of transparency should be maintained regarding stewardship governance within the project.
  4. Advocacy for, and the agency of, the broader CKAN community (contributors, users, vendors, etc) should be maintained.
  5. The community needs to actually know, “What is the plan and what happens next?”
  Regarding the very first point we are pleased to share today a public release of the Stewardship Proposal. Please note that this document was produced under an extremely short timeframe, within less time than was available for the Community Proposal. However, the general approach of supporting stewardship for the CKAN project was considered and accepted by the Board of OKF. Both proposals received equal consideration by the Board. Neither were rejected, but certainly only the Stewardship Proposal was accepted. Regarding the second point, yes, stewardship has been appointed to two companies which provide commercial services surrounding CKAN. However, it is important to note that decisionary delegation within these two companies is held by Steven De Costa and Paul Walsh. Any change to these representatives must be approved by the CEO of OKF.  Both Paul and Steven are personally and professionally aligned with CKAN, OKF and the broadly defined ‘open’ movements which surround code, communities, Government, knowledge and data. On the third point, we begin today with this post. We begin with publishing the stewardship proposal and we begin with the following assurances;
“I worked on my first open source / open data project in 2012, opening up municipal data in Israel, which was also my first encounter with CKAN and with the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF). I was hooked, and ended up joining OKF first as a developer, writing some of the early Frictionless Data libraries and the Open Data Census, and later, running technical product and joining the senior management of the organisation. Over that time I've funded CKAN work and worked with various organisations to help them adopt and implement CKAN and other open source software. I also served on the CKAN Steering Group representing OKF. Moving to Datopian this year has brought me closer in touch with many CKAN users, across not only government but also large philanthropic organisations and corporate users. I'm more certain than ever that CKAN is an important piece of open data management infrastructure, and that committed leadership for the CKAN project will expand the ecosystem of users, developers, and vendors that build with CKAN. I'm excited by the opportunity to steward the CKAN project going forward, to build out open infrastructure, and I welcome discussion and comments via”
“I have run Link Digital for almost 18 years. It has remained a small company and it has rarely generated a significant profit. In the last two years, miraculously, the company has found it’s form and this is in no small part due to the role CKAN has played in our service offerings from 2013 onwards. More importantly, working within the open data, open source and open Government sector has helped Link Digital to envision and begin to realise it’s purpose - to create meaningful change. We are proud of the contributions we have made to CKAN. We are proud of the support we have given to Open Knowledge Ethiopia to lift it into a three person team of full time CKAN contributors. We are very proud of the great work being delivered by our team and much of this, again, is connected with the CKAN project. Personally, I have been rewarded by simply working with the amazing people I have met through the CKAN project. I hold for each of them so much gratitude. With this stewardship role I aim to deliver results, rewards and recognition for each and everyone in the CKAN Community. Should I fail on your expectations, please assume incompetence over malice and help me understand how to improve in this stewardship role. You can reach me via”
On point four, we got it. We’ll go forward with all best intentions and remain open to input, responsive to criticism and considerate to the broad CKAN community in all matters, in all forums and in every manner. Should we falter, please support us so that we can learn to improve as stewards. On point five, please just grant us a little time. Paul and Steven will be catching up in Tel Aviv this week to thrash through a range of topics with an aim to find points of strong consensus. It is not the case that we submitted a stewardship proposal due to some universal alignment on ideas and ways forward. Paul and Steven both have very different backgrounds, competencies and perspectives on what is important for CKAN at this time. However, we are strongly aligned around the principles of both open source and open data: openness/transparency, participation and collaboration.
Feature Image: IIT Bombay [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons