Home » Blog » #OAWeek2021: It Matters How We Open Knowledge – ‚break chatter‘ as audio recording and transcript

#OAWeek2021: It Matters How We Open Knowledge – ‚break chatter‘ as audio recording and transcript

Audio recording and transcript with Axel Dürkop (ITBH) and Florian Hagen (tub.)

On 28.10.2021 Axel Dürkop and Florian Hagen met for a „break chatter“ about Open Access Week 2021 and the partial motto “It matters how we open knowledge” via Zoom. The recording of the conversation is offered in this article unabridged as an audio file (German) as well as a “simplified” transcript (verbatim transcription, including omitting word duplications and adjusting punctuation to improve readability).

“It matters how we open knowledge”: ‚break chatter‘ with Axel Dürkop and Florian Hagen (24 minutes, 20 MB).

Chapter marks of the recording

  • 00:01:09: Hackerspace@TUHH
  • 00:04:58: GitLab
  • 00:06:52: Learning Circles
  • 00:09:52: Learning Circles für die Teamentwicklung
  • 00:14:42: Inspirierende Projekte und Materialien zu Openness

Some of the offerings, materials and services mentioned in the recording:


– Florian Hagen

Yes, to maybe set the context right away, let’s just get started now. A long time ago, we actually thought about recording a podcast on the topic of “It Matters How to Open Knowledge”. Before we start, I’d like to introduce myself: I’m Florian Hagen, I’m a specialist for Open Access and Open Education at the TUHH. Axel Dürkop and I often meet for a chat, and today we just thought we’d record our chat on this topic. And maybe you would like to introduce yourself to Axel?

– Axel Dürkop

Yes, thank you, I am Axel Dürkop. I work across the street at the TU Hamburg as a scientific consultant for technical development and conception for the Hamburg Open Online University at the TU Hamburg. And that’s how we met. We can talk about it again in a moment. Exactly. Yes, shall we also say something about earlier? Decades ago, training and all that?

– Florian Hagen

You can do that, I have omitted it now.

– Axel Dürkop

Or I don’t have to say. Maybe later. Okay. Yeah, how did we meet?

– Florian Hagen

I think we met in 2018, when the Hackerspace events were still taking place at TU. And Thomas Hapke, my old boss, just sort of tucked me under his arm and took me to Hackerspace. He said, that’s a nice thing to do. And what the Hackerspace actually is, maybe you can say something about it for everyone.

– Axel Dürkop

Yeah, that’s right. So the Hackerspace was… I don’t even know when we started it. Right now it’s dormant, which was partly due to the pandemic, because it actually consists of… so the fun comes from meeting, really meeting each other. We had done quite a lot of stuff in 2015 as part of the Hamburg Open Online University, which we also call HOOU for short, which we knew very well how to do in a small group and it was very innovative.

– Axel Dürkop

And it’s still somehow the basis for the things that you and I have done together, for example. We can also say something about that in a moment. We then had the feeling that we would like to share this knowledge because we were just so excited about what we were doing. And we thought, “Let’s tell others and see if they think it’s so great, too.” And the hackerspace format is one that we didn’t invent ourselves, but hackspaces are more of an international movement where people say they want to have a self-determined space where they can tinker and hack.

– Axel Dürkop

And hacking is, in a positive sense, the creative use of technology. So, and we also offered that and met every Wednesday, for at least two years every Wednesday afternoon and did our work as always or tried things out. And when other people came, we talked about technology and said what we were working on, others said what they were working on, and thus actually exemplified a culture of sharing or practiced it with ourselves.

– Florian Hagen

From my perspective, of course, I can only agree with that. If I think back, I got a lot out of Hackerspace and I thought it was a great opportunity to come together from completely different disciplines and to exchange ideas on certain topics in a certain interdisciplinary way. So at that time, we also had the idea of our tub.orials blog… that is, a blog offering that is also about openness around science, research and teaching. And I’m still of the opinion, but I can’t remember exactly, that you put a flea in my ear at some point … that the blog is a good thing first of all as a means of communication. But it would be even cooler to somehow make it even more sustainable and reusable. So I think that somehow the idea arose from this exchange within Hackerspace. We always have a license notice at the bottom, because the things are all openly licensed and there we link the material for reuse and also the texts themselves are offered in marketdown format.

– Florian Hagen

And I think that’s still a really cool thing and I’ve heard at least occasionally from people who just take out the texts again, because it’s often the case that you can’t get something like that out of a blog so easily.

– Axel Dürkop

Yes, so I can’t claim this authorship for myself now as you just attributed it to me. But it may well be, because I was extremely enthusiastic about the possibilities of GitLab and GitHub then and still am today. That was just also what we were trying to kind of share there. That what we learned there. We got GitLab up and running at TU in 2015, in a framework that was supposed to make it possible for everyone to work with GitLab, and now it is. And my approach to it was not so much to use it for software development, but for the development of texts and just open educational materials, which can also be programmed, of course. But I still have great fun working with this collaboration platform and web-based texts or media. And what you’re doing there with the blog is also depositing things in Git Lab so that you can download them there. And for me, that’s what I’ve already said.

– Axel Dürkop

I think it’s a great example of simply providing access to knowledge, simply also in a technically simplified form. You don’t have to know anything about GitLab or Git if you want to take your texts. You just offer them again in other formats in a meaningful place for download, so that other people can somehow continue to work with it. And I think that’s great, because the 5-R of Wiley are, according to my observation, rarely followed through in the last consequence. Namely, they say, for example, here are the raw materials. So you don’t have to scrape this off the website, but I give it to you in such a way that you can continue working with it quickly. And I think that’s great with the blog you have.

– Florian Hagen

Yes, thank you again for your feedback. So basically… we are moving a bit in the context of the Hamburg Open Online University, the HOOU. The blog was created in this context and GitLab was also often used for various materials. Recently, I have to say, I don’t even remember when exactly it was, the stARTcamp online took place. And you also offered a session or a contribution on the topic of learning circles as part of the stARTcamp. And to be honest, I don’t really remember why I wasn’t there. Maybe I had offered another session at the same time or it was a different date. But could you explain again what these Learning Circles are all about?

– Axel Dürkop

Yes, very much so. I think I came across Learning Circles in 2015 when I started to get more involved with Open Educational Resources and sharing education or knowledge online. And I always found the Learning Circles, as they were developed by the Peer to Peer University, strikingly good. Because they identified what is still a fundamental problem today when we talk about open access or about the inequities in access to education. People often say that it’s on the web, let’s put it on the web, let’s put Creative Commons licenses on it, and then they assume that that’s enough. But I think that’s only a necessary condition, that it’s openly available, so to speak. Because if it wasn’t, there would be no need to talk further. So it’s necessary that it’s freely accessible, openly accessible, and that it can be reused. But it is not sufficient, because it has become clear in the context of digitization that many people do not necessarily use it to learn, despite this accessibility. And the idea of learning circles is that back then, people took Massive Open Online Courses that are freely accessible and learned together with them in learning circles.

– Axel Dürkop

And this idea has become very strong. It has become very popular in different countries. In Africa, too, it has developed in its own direction, but it’s very strong and people use it to acquire freely accessible content in a very self-determined way, and ever since I knew about it, I’ve always wanted to do that because I thought, “This is how it has to be,” so let’s take content from the web and let’s find didactic forms with which people can learn with it. And then I organized a Learning Circle together with Gabi Fahrenkrog and Sarah Politt from the Bücherhallen, and the topic was robotics and AI. And we not only learned together four times, four evenings, sorry, six evenings together, but we also published what we had compiled there as a small compendium of a curated collection of links at the end.

– Florian Hagen

However, this means that a Learning Circle is not just for individuals who say that they would like to learn something additional or simply adopt a different form of learning in social interaction with a group that I may not yet know. But that would also be something, so that’s how it sounded to me now, if I have a small team or a small group that perhaps also want to exchange ideas with other people on a certain topic, that this is also a possibility for a kind of team development or team building? Because we often talk about joint writing in other projects where we work together. So that would also be something of a team development aid or measure, so to speak?

– Axel Dürkop

That’s a good idea. I think that in some cases there is perhaps a working group or a learning group and they do it together. I think that’s the crucial thing about it, that in-house training or continuing education works best when it’s project-related and people do it together. That’s why I think what you’re proposing certainly makes sense. Especially because it is not related to Friday afternoon and Saturday and then certificate and then is learned. It’s more about saying that this is a work-related project that you work on and grow. For example, the Hackerspace and these contexts have given rise to various formats of continuing education programs at the TU over the years that I have reported on. These also bring the idea of sharing knowledge and experience, and not just my knowledge and experience, i.e. when I organize them. But what I find great is that others, who have perhaps already worked with it or have first experiences or even advanced experiences, also share them. In other words, it’s not about one person knowing and passing it on in the classic sense, but I think the great thing about it (also about the Learning Circles) is that “everybody is an expert”. It’s not about who has the most expertise and the most experience, but who perhaps also has the courage to articulate diverse perspectives on the topic and to rub shoulders with each other, and that simply creates new things. I think that’s great. And that was also the idea behind Hackerspace. That you don’t lecture others about what you know, but rather I’m excited about it, may I show you something. And then someone says, that’s great, but look what I’m doing. And then you say, “Okay, thanks,” and you go out and you’ve enriched each other. That’s great. That’s what that runs to. And so I also think what you’re suggesting is a great way to share knowledge within a company or university.

– Florian Hagen

Yeah, cool, thanks for the insight. When you just said Hackerspace again… As someone who has participated in it, it’s immediately apparent that some of the virtues of this Learning Circles approach have perhaps already taken place in an unplanned way. So, that people simply share among themselves and that they definitely take something with them. You can really see parallels there, without it having been planned that way at the time when the Hackerspace was started. So I think.

– Axel Dürkop

I don’t remember that exactly, it could be. It has parallels, of course. The parallel is: people just learn well in groups. That’s why – for example, if the motto of this year’s Open Access Week is “It Matters How to Open Knowledge” – then the “how” is precisely what needs to be emphasized. That’s what I was talking about earlier. It’s not enough that we put everything on the Internet. It’s the same with Open Data. That’s a nice thing, yes. But I have to know the context, I have to know how to get at it and what I can do with it. And that requires a certain expertise. And to gain this expertise, to get there… that is certainly also a very honorable educational mission of universities and perhaps also libraries to say “Ok, we build the bridges there”. That’s why this “how.” It’s not done with it being on the web. But it starts with. Ok, we’ve got something nice here, don’t you guys feel like and how can we help you. And that’s certainly the case with Hackerspace, but also with the Learning Circle. A connecting idea, just to see who is there and what does the individual person need and to help people find access to themselves for themselves.

– Florian Hagen

You’ve just mentioned it yourself, so perhaps one more question to conclude our little exchange. This year’s motto is “It Matters How to Open Knowledge” and we haven’t agreed on any questions beforehand. Listeners can’t see that right now, but you’re already looking very curious about what might come next. As I’ve said before, when we talk to each other, I actually take something away from every conversation. So you always put an idea in my head or point me to something, a material or something, which I always find inspiring in some way for me or for teaching and for my own learning. If you now think about “opening up” knowledge, are there any projects or materials from the fields of open science, open access or other openness movements that you find inspiring or simply worth a look if you are interested in them? Of course, reading recommendations are also welcome.

– Axel Dürkop

Reading recommendations I would have to think a bit longer now. I have a new topic that totally excites me. I’m just saying that now because I’m so excited myself right now and it’s sweeping me away. I don’t know if others find it so great. But I’ve always found… or lately, always I can’t say. But I’ve been watching alternatives to the traditional internet for about 4 years. I think that’s exciting right now. And there’s a whole bunch of stuff that I’m seeing there that’s emerging. Traditional internet or traditional web is what we know like that. Small server and we provide, for example, Open Educational Resources to download and have places where they are. There’s sort of traditionally the idea that we have servers and that’s also the problem that we have right now with big platforms. That they have simply become very powerful. That’s not yet the case in the OER context, it’s not a problem there. But I was interested in what this “peer to peer” actually is, because of course this is also and this is perhaps the connection to the peer to peer university… this peer to peer, so people among themselves without a mediating authority in the middle. What kind of technical systems does that give off. And there is the Fediverse, the federated network, which actually dispenses with central servers as far as possible, but works in a decentralized way. There are no middle men or middle women, so to speak. I find that very exciting right now, and there are very interesting technical developments that I’m currently trying to check for their usefulness for sharing. Is it too complicated? Is it resilient? That’s one thing that comes to my mind right now. I don’t know if that’s as exciting to others. But one piece of software I’m experimenting with right now in a course is the Beaker Browser, which allows you to instantly set up a peer to peer network of educational materials with each other without a server. What I find exciting is the Interplanetary File System, which unfortunately sounds totally silly when you say it… But, it’s gotten very big and it intends to do exactly the same thing, which is share whatever without a central cluster. For me, that would be knowledge or information set up. I think that’s very cool, I’m very excited about that right now. I want to check that for teaching and the openness movement in the area of open science and open education.

– Florian Hagen

Cool. So I haven’t heard of all or almost all of those things. With the system that you mentioned last. I was kind of stuck on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. I’ll definitely take a look at that. It’s actually a pity that there’s currently no such possibility that you can simply meet on site and work on your own ideas and then in this framework, as it was for example also at Hackerspace, just have a quick look, what is that actually. Nevertheless, I’ll be happy to take a look at that. And that brings us more or less to the end of our short exchange.

– Axel Dürkop

Wait a minute. You were kind enough to ask me what’s on my mind right now. But now you tell me, what is it that’s getting you excited right now?

– Florian Hagen

What is it that gets me excited about Open Science, Open Access, Open Education, Openness? There are actually quite a few things that are floating around in my head. At the moment I’m doing this in my course… Well, we have a course on “Scientific Work” for Bachelor students at the TU. And I often sit down again after the lectures, because the students always have a lot of input, from which I also take a lot and learn. And I still try to capture something like that in script form and share that with everyone. And often that happens through collaborative writing tools like HedgeDoc, which I think used to be CodiMd. And I feel the need sometimes that at the end of the semester, I would just like to have all these scripts that I’ve written, I’d like to bang those in somewhere so that I could just have a cohesive PDF generated from those scripts. So sort of a little brochure at the end of the semester. I have already been told by students that it is very pleasant to have everything collected again. Of course you can also save the links via literature management or other possibilities. But often it is still the case that you like to print something out and put your own comments and annotations on a normal PDF. That’s something that came up again today in a lecture. I think I’ve mentioned this before, that I had thought about how you could implement this somehow, so that the additional effort is not so great. But that you get a stable format or a digital artifact at the end. That’s what I’m interested in right now.

– Axel Dürkop

Yes, I find that very exciting. I have already experimented with it. I find HedgeDoc just as exciting and indispensable in the meantime for many things that I do. And since you can export them wonderfully, not only in the social form of HedgeDoc learning, but you can also use them technically. So everybody can take it for their own purposes, similar to what you mentioned for your blog as well. And yeah, what we need then is an automated form of downloading and aggregating to create a compendium like that. Yeah, let’s get together on that.

– Florian Hagen

Look, here we are again with a topic we can work on together.

– Axel Dürkop

Absolutely right, very nice.

– Florian Hagen

Very cool. What I actually wanted to say just now, first of all, thank you for finding the time today so that we can just talk about it again as part of Open Access Week. And we’ll probably see each other again in the next few days in some meeting. But I also hope that the one or the other who listened to this recording now, that there was also something interesting to take away from our chat. Just like I always do when we exchange ideas.

– Axel Dürkop

Yes, thank you very much for the initiative that we met here. I think your questions about the hackerspace and our conversation about it made it clear once again how important it actually is. So you and I now also have a concrete plan of what we have to do now. That we now meet again and that this format simply gets going again, now that it is hopefully possible to meet again. We have face-to-face teaching again, it works. That’s why we should perhaps take this as a prelude to thinking about whether we should first revive this possibility of sharing knowledge in our small project, which we had now considered, but then perhaps in a wider circle.

– Florian Hagen

I would definitely be there.

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