Friday, June 29, 2012

Tom Slee on open data

Tom Slee has written a few pieces about his discomfiture with the open data movements, an early piece which I find clearer than others here. Some of the points:

"1.The rhetoric of citizen engagement too often masks a reality of commercialization (last time)

2.Information is not always democratizing.

3.Information is not always the problem.

4.Transparency is an arms race.

5.Privacy is the other side of the coin.

6.Money flows to Silicon Valley."

More recent articles Why the "Open Data Movement" is a joke and Seeing Like a Geek. The last article in Crooked Timber is leading to a seminar which will probably confuse me even further much like the confusions on climate change
One take away point for me is the quote "this attempt to enhance democratic participation has ended up providing an additional opportunity for those who already, because of their income, education, and overall conventional characteristics of higher status (age, gender etc.) have the means to communicate with and influence politicians. The additional information and an additional communications channel thus has the effect of reinforcing patterns of opportunity that are already there rather than widening the base of participation and influence." of Gurstein. This is a point which seems known in development circles and written about by John Harriss and others, see for example, Middle Class Activism and Poor People's Politics: An exploration of civil society in Chennai. Other India related articles by Solomon Benjamin and others are linked in Tom Slee's articles.

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