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Are We Measuring the Right Things?!
From Disclosing Datasets to!
Reshaping Data Infrastructures
17th June, University of C...
The politics of public information
Talk of “release”, “disclosure”, “publication”,
“transparency”, “opening up” of public data
From the disclosure of datasets

to shaping data infrastructures?
Based on two papers and
research projects in progress.
1. Gray, J. & Venturini, T. (forthcoming) “Rethinking the
Politics of Public Information: From Opening Up
Datasets to Reco...
Gray. J. & Davies, T. (2015) “Fighting Phantom Firms in the UK: From Opening Up Datasets to
Reshaping Data Infrastructures...
Three parts:
!
1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for
company ownership in the UK;
2. Implications for open data initiat...
Three parts:
!
1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for
company ownership in the UK;!
2. Implications for open data initia...
Open Government Partnership Summit,
October 2013
Joint Stock Companies Acts
of 1844 and 1856
“Nominal ownership”

Who is officially named as the owner?
“Beneficial ownership”!
Who benefits from ownership and control?
Beneficial ownership:
!
• UK law in 19th century;
• Origins in trust law 11th and 12th century;
• International tax rules (...
Civil society campaigning in the UK
commencing around 2012
G8 “Lough Erne Declaration” in June 2013
“Transparency and Trust”
consultation in July 2013
Civil society actors included:
!
• Action Aid
• Avaaz
• CAFOD
• Christian Aid
• European Network on Debt and Development
•...
Beneficial ownership advocacy:
!
• Consultation responses;
• Joint open letters;
• Petitions;
• Public events;
• Media enga...
Beneficial ownership advocacy:
!
• Meetings as part of OGP National Action Plan;
• Cost-benefit analysis of public register;...
Three parts:
!
1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for
company ownership in the UK;
2. Implications for open data initiat...
Three parts:
!
1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for
company ownership in the UK;
2. Implications for open data initiat...
In case of beneficial ownership advocacy, the
disclosure of existing datasets was not enough.
Civil society organisations had to undertake a more
creative, sustained and holistic engagement with
shaping and influencin...
This included research and advocacy around:
!
• Costs, functionalities and user interfaces of
software systems that would ...
Campaigners had to look beyond the question
of what information is released, towards the
question of what information is c...
The campaign for public registries of beneficial
ownership as an example of a deeper
intervention into the composition of p...
Highlights social and political work that goes
into the creation of data infrastructures.
Contingent events and alignment of different interests:
!
• UK hosting both the G8 and the OGP;
• Prime Minister’s persona...
Two other considerations:
(i) who uses information,
(ii) how information acts.
“Accountability paths”
From “information as resource”
to “information as agent”.
!
(Sandra Braman, Change of
State, MIT Press, 2009)
“Participatory data infrastructures”
To what extent do data infrastructures
address needs and interests of civil
society actors?
Role of public information systems in
shaping and organising collective life.
How to broaden the publics that shape
data as well as the publics that use it.
Bringing data infrastructures into orbits
of democratic political life?
Might open data initiatives and
advocates play a role in mediating
interventions into data infrastructures?
If so how?
Legal, social and technical measures
for making open data initiatives more
responsive to needs of civil society?
ROUTE TO PA:
http://routetopa.eu
Forthcoming discussion paper about
data infrastructures for practitioners.
Three parts:
!
1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for
company ownership in the UK;
2. Implications for open data initiat...
Three parts:
!
1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for
company ownership in the UK;
2. Implications for open data initiat...
“Statactivism”
Bruno, I. and Didier, E. and Vitale, T. (2014) “Statactivism: Forms of Action between Disclosure
and Affirmation”. Availabl...
Not just blanket critique or withdrawal of
quantification and “metrification”.
Highlighting limitations of existing forms of
measurement and proposing alternatives.
For example, gender equality, climate
change, working conditions and health.
What should be measured and how?
What is not currently being measured?
Recent examples from data journalism.
New “action repertoires” for civil society actors
to shape data infrastructures.
In conclusion…
Rethinking the politics of public information.
Going beyond a politics of public information
focused on the disclosure of datasets.
Role of not just datasets but data infrastructures
in addressing major global challenges -

from climate change to tax bas...
Towards more holistic and creative interventions
to shape information infrastructures
which organise collective life.
Not just dataset literacy,
but data infrastructure literacy?
Not just dataset activism,
but data infrastructure activism?
Jonathan Gray | jonathangray.org | @jwyg
Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures
Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures
Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures
Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures
Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures
Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures
Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures
Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures
Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures
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Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures

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Slides from “Policy-Making in the Big Data Era” conference, University of Cambridge, 17th June 2015.

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Are We Measuring the Right Things? From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures

  1. 1. Are We Measuring the Right Things?! From Disclosing Datasets to! Reshaping Data Infrastructures 17th June, University of Cambridge Jonathan Gray | jonathangray.org | @jwyg
  2. 2. The politics of public information
  3. 3. Talk of “release”, “disclosure”, “publication”, “transparency”, “opening up” of public data
  4. 4. From the disclosure of datasets
 to shaping data infrastructures?
  5. 5. Based on two papers and research projects in progress.
  6. 6. 1. Gray, J. & Venturini, T. (forthcoming) “Rethinking the Politics of Public Information: From Opening Up Datasets to Recomposing Data Infrastructures?”.
 
 2. Gray. J. & Davies, T. (2015) “Fighting Phantom Firms in the UK: From Opening Up Datasets to Reshaping Data Infrastructures?”. Working paper available on SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2610937
  7. 7. Gray. J. & Davies, T. (2015) “Fighting Phantom Firms in the UK: From Opening Up Datasets to Reshaping Data Infrastructures?”. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2610937
  8. 8. Three parts: ! 1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for company ownership in the UK; 2. Implications for open data initiatives 
 and open data advocacy; 3. “Statactivism” and data activism.
  9. 9. Three parts: ! 1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for company ownership in the UK;! 2. Implications for open data initiatives
 and open data advocacy; 3. “Statactivism” and data activism.
  10. 10. Open Government Partnership Summit, October 2013
  11. 11. Joint Stock Companies Acts of 1844 and 1856
  12. 12. “Nominal ownership”
 Who is officially named as the owner?
  13. 13. “Beneficial ownership”! Who benefits from ownership and control?
  14. 14. Beneficial ownership: ! • UK law in 19th century; • Origins in trust law 11th and 12th century; • International tax rules (OECD) from 1970s; • “Financial Action Task Force” (FATF) in relation to money laundering and illicit financial flows.
  15. 15. Civil society campaigning in the UK commencing around 2012
  16. 16. G8 “Lough Erne Declaration” in June 2013
  17. 17. “Transparency and Trust” consultation in July 2013
  18. 18. Civil society actors included: ! • Action Aid • Avaaz • CAFOD • Christian Aid • European Network on Debt and Development • Financial Transparency Coalition • Global Witness • IF campaign • Involve • ONE • OpenCorporates • Open Knowledge • Oxfam • Publish What You Pay UK • Save The Children • Tax Justice Network • Tax Research UK • Tearfund • The Rules • The Transparency and Accountability Initiative • Transparency International UK • War on Want • World Development Movement
  19. 19. Beneficial ownership advocacy: ! • Consultation responses; • Joint open letters; • Petitions; • Public events; • Media engagement.
  20. 20. Beneficial ownership advocacy: ! • Meetings as part of OGP National Action Plan; • Cost-benefit analysis of public register; • Analysis of not publishing different data fields; • Opinion polls to gauge support of broader publics; • Addressing concerns around privacy, data protection and administrative burden; • Petition of 22,000 business owners; • Evidence of data quality improvements and personal information as part of public record; • Software development and design to mock up how a public register might look and function.
  21. 21. Three parts: ! 1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for company ownership in the UK; 2. Implications for open data initiatives and open data advocacy; 3. “Statactivism” and data activism.
  22. 22. Three parts: ! 1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for company ownership in the UK; 2. Implications for open data initiatives and open data advocacy;! 3. “Statactivism” and data activism.
  23. 23. In case of beneficial ownership advocacy, the disclosure of existing datasets was not enough.
  24. 24. Civil society organisations had to undertake a more creative, sustained and holistic engagement with shaping and influencing the development of data infrastructures as socio-technical systems.
  25. 25. This included research and advocacy around: ! • Costs, functionalities and user interfaces of software systems that would run the register; • Changes to primary and secondary legislation; • Additional administrative requirements and their impacts on different actors inside and outside the public sector.
  26. 26. Campaigners had to look beyond the question of what information is released, towards the question of what information is collected and generated by the public sector in the first place, how this is information is generated through data infrastructures.
  27. 27. The campaign for public registries of beneficial ownership as an example of a deeper intervention into the composition of public data systems.
  28. 28. Highlights social and political work that goes into the creation of data infrastructures.
  29. 29. Contingent events and alignment of different interests: ! • UK hosting both the G8 and the OGP; • Prime Minister’s personal interest in the topic; • Controversies around tax avoidance by large multinational companies and illicit capital flight in the wake of the Arab Spring; • Anti-corruption advocacy around resource extraction and international development; • Increasing public trust and confidence in UK businesses.
  30. 30. Two other considerations: (i) who uses information, (ii) how information acts.
  31. 31. “Accountability paths”
  32. 32. From “information as resource” to “information as agent”. ! (Sandra Braman, Change of State, MIT Press, 2009)
  33. 33. “Participatory data infrastructures”
  34. 34. To what extent do data infrastructures address needs and interests of civil society actors?
  35. 35. Role of public information systems in shaping and organising collective life.
  36. 36. How to broaden the publics that shape data as well as the publics that use it.
  37. 37. Bringing data infrastructures into orbits of democratic political life?
  38. 38. Might open data initiatives and advocates play a role in mediating interventions into data infrastructures? If so how?
  39. 39. Legal, social and technical measures for making open data initiatives more responsive to needs of civil society?
  40. 40. ROUTE TO PA: http://routetopa.eu
  41. 41. Forthcoming discussion paper about data infrastructures for practitioners.
  42. 42. Three parts: ! 1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for company ownership in the UK; 2. Implications for open data initiatives and open data advocacy; 3. “Statactivism” and data activism.
  43. 43. Three parts: ! 1. Reshaping the data infrastructure for company ownership in the UK; 2. Implications for open data initiatives and open data advocacy; 3. “Statactivism” and data activism.
  44. 44. “Statactivism”
  45. 45. Bruno, I. and Didier, E. and Vitale, T. (2014) “Statactivism: Forms of Action between Disclosure and Affirmation”. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2466882
  46. 46. Not just blanket critique or withdrawal of quantification and “metrification”.
  47. 47. Highlighting limitations of existing forms of measurement and proposing alternatives.
  48. 48. For example, gender equality, climate change, working conditions and health.
  49. 49. What should be measured and how?
  50. 50. What is not currently being measured?
  51. 51. Recent examples from data journalism.
  52. 52. New “action repertoires” for civil society actors to shape data infrastructures.
  53. 53. In conclusion…
  54. 54. Rethinking the politics of public information.
  55. 55. Going beyond a politics of public information focused on the disclosure of datasets.
  56. 56. Role of not just datasets but data infrastructures in addressing major global challenges -
 from climate change to tax base erosion.
  57. 57. Towards more holistic and creative interventions to shape information infrastructures which organise collective life.
  58. 58. Not just dataset literacy, but data infrastructure literacy?
  59. 59. Not just dataset activism, but data infrastructure activism?
  60. 60. Jonathan Gray | jonathangray.org | @jwyg

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