Designing For Transparency

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Michael Higgins, CTO of Rhiza Labs, presents on designing public information systems that support truly public decisionmaking through incorporating the principle of transparency into their design approaches. www.rhizalabs.com

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  • At Rhiza Labs we build web applications that help communities share
    and understand their data. I wanted to share a couple of quick
    thoughts from our experiences.

    The overall theme is that building useful tools for transparency takes
    more than technology. It also takes careful design: especially
    focusing on an understanding of the different incentives people bring
    to the process.

    CC: http://flickr.com/photos/victoriapeckham/164175205/
  • I come from both an engineering and design background, but my core skills and mindset are engineering focused. Engineers tend to be very idealistic, and very focused on realizing their ideas through technology. What we have to realize is that great technology is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for sharing data. People have to be able to share, but they have to want to share too.

    Mr. Rogers is in favor, so given the opportunity, won't everyone want to share their data? Not necessarily.

    CC: http://flickr.com/photos/booskitty/2096393788/
    CC: http://flickr.com/photos/fensterbme/111552519/
  • CC: http://flickr.com/photos/marsdd/2986989396/
  • I won't name names, but this happens over and over. You build a wonderful system that helps an organization share its data. Right before it's supposed to go live, someone in the organization PANICS and tries to stop the whole thing.

    CC: http://flickr.com/photos/ifijay/281551533/
  • CC: http://flickr.com/photos/nickwheeleroz/2281759696/
    CC: http://flickr.com/photos/spaceritual/51758543/

  • Designing For Transparency

    1. 1. Designing for Transparency Monday, March 2, 2009
    2. 2. Everyone wants to share, right? Technology is necessary but not sufficient: people have to be able to share, but also have to want to share! Monday, March 2, 2009
    3. 3. Some Stumbling Blocks: Databasin.org A project to help conservation scientists share • data with the conservation community: slam dunk, right? Scientists who have data worry that it will be • misunderstood Scientists worry about losing a competitive • edge Shared data might be highly technical and hard • to use Users who need data may have trouble finding • it and trusting it Monday, March 2, 2009
    4. 4. Stumbling Blocks: The Messy Data Pattern Visualizing information means: you can see all the errors! • Sharing information means: OTHER PEOPLE can see all the errors! • Quel Horror! • Monday, March 2, 2009
    5. 5. What to do? No quick fix for social problems • Technology with good design can help! • Use user-centered design techniques • Understand your users and stakeholders • Provide ways for data providers to track use • Make the system accessible for many skill • levels Provide a feedback loop to improve data • Make the system beautiful, even if the data is • ugly! Look for non-technical incentives • Monday, March 2, 2009
    6. 6. Come find us! Creative Commons Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/victoriapeckham/164175205/ http://flickr.com/photos/booskitty/2096393788/ http://flickr.com/photos/fensterbme/111552519/ http://flickr.com/photos/marsdd/2986989396/ http://flickr.com/photos/ifijay/281551533/ http://flickr.com/photos/nickwheeleroz/2281759696/ http://flickr.com/photos/spaceritual/51758543/ Monday, March 2, 2009

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