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HOW TO GET OPEN DATA IN THE
HANDS OF ACTIVISTS
Aslam Khan
@aslamkhn
Open Data
Activism
Aslam Khan / @aslamkhn
1977
School
Protest
8y
1985
State of
Emergency
16
Detention
without trial
1986
17
1988
19
Worker &
Student Pressure
1993
Brink of
Civil War
23
Activist by default
if you lived on the receiving end of apartheid in South Africa
1969
23 years 1992
22born
Would data have been valuable to me - in both eras?
21 years
now
2013
I want to believe so
but
I'm not sure
This is Cape Town, South Africa
Khayelitsha
This is Khayelitsha, Cape Town
It means New Home in isiXhosa
satellite dish
chemical toilet
ditto
ditto
There is (almost) no bulk sewage
source: ewn.co.za
People protested
using the most shocking means imaginable
More Importantly...
Why did nearly 4 million residents of Cape
Town not know about this issue?
How wide spread is this problem?
Why did we let this degrade into
a battle for political points?
because it was just noisy people
(perception!)
Khayelitsha
29 sq.km
400,00 people
Look at the data behind the protest
This touches the mind first, then the heart (a little)
all figures are approximate
13.7k people/sq.km
2000 people share
eleven flush toilets
Everyone in Denmark
will live into about 400
sq.km not 43k sq.km
Durbanville
27 sq.km
55,000 people
2,000 people/sq.km
1 flush toilet per house
4 people per flush toilet
Khayelitsha
29 sq.km
400,00 people
13.7k people/sq.km
180 people per flush
toilet
25km
Facts stick when it touches hearts
make it concrete and tangible so that it appeals to everyone, not just the disenfranchised
On average, Khayelitsha toilets are used
every 8 minutes so that each person
can use a flush toilet once a day
Wikipedia
Report of the Khayelitsha
'Mshengu' Toilet Social Audit
Open Data for Africa
Statistics South Africa
Where did I find these facts?
There is data available, but it is scattered, and not all open data
various news web sites
What would we do differently
if we had access to data?
Offering data to social activists has little value
We need to distill data into facts that are
simple, precise and easily understood
that appeals to hearts and minds
common
knowledge
Social activists
need to share
we need tools to
access discoveries
and distribute widely
open data
Digital activists
need to discover
we need tools to
discover facts in data
and publish discoveries
freedom to distributefreedom to discover
open data
freedom to discover
frictionless sharing of data sets
ability to "mix-in" and explore varied data sets
location independence of data sets
What tools do digital activists need?
Digital activists do not need campaign tools
software freedoms
freedom to execute and modify
freedom to distribute
freedom to share changes
Pre-requisites
Normally codified in licenses
data freedoms
free to access, reuse, redistribute
available as a whole
machine readable
open data
freedom to discover
frictionless sharing of data sets
ability to "mix-in" and explore varied data sets
location independence of data sets
What tools do digital activists need?
Digital activists do not need campaign tools
Frictionless Data Sharing
open datastandards based
Lowest common
denominator
standards allow for
richly adorned data sets
simplest machine readable
formats are anemic
The constraint is
meta data
Must provide
metadata early
When/How do we
get metadata?
Concept
Meta
Data
definition
variables
classification
context
semantics
domain
Can we compare poverty between countries?
Why metadata is the biggest constraint
mostly because of changes in context and time
US Census Bureau UNESCO
World Bank WHO
multiple definitions of
poverty threshold
South Africa
adjustment for Sub-Sahara and
medium income economies
povertymetadata
poverty
Can we compare poverty between countries?
No metadata, No analysis
metadata
It's difficult to compare
because the metadata is different for each country
BUT without metadata it is impossible
HIGH barrier to get in
HIGH cost of conformance
The problem with a strict standard format
The problem with any standard is that compliance is a choice
But the cost of metadata remains, regardless of compliance
Frictionless Data Sharing
I doubt we can ever remove the cost of metadata completely
open data
simplest extensible
format for
metadata
simplest machine
readable format
for data
Open Knowledge Foundation's
Data Package Standard is a
step in the right direction
http://data.okfn.org/standards/data-package
JSON for metadata
+
CSV for tabular data
open data
freedom to discover
frictionless sharing of data sets
ability to "mix-in" and explore varied data sets
location independence of data sets
What tools do digital activists need?
Digital activists do not need campaign tools
Why do we need data exploration tools?
LOW barrier to get in
Cost of computation (analysis)
What is the effort
to get knowledge out?
constraint shifts
(frictionless data sharing)
Why do we need to compose data sets?
because that is where the interesting and relevant facts lurk
When is per capita income interesting?
Correlation between
infant mortality and
per capita income?
… between parent to
child HIV infections and
per capita income?
Digital activists are in the business of data science - not campaigning
What do we need for discovering facts?
Split into individual columns and
compose columns ad-lib
treat every column
as a data set
&
Find all other occurrences of a
single value
remove all duplications
in every column and
join on “value”
then look for trends
if we make the above easy
then
the cost is mental effort
I DON’T KNOW
Set-based? Graph-based? something else?
how?!?
Is there such a data discovery tool?
QlikView
fails freedom pre-requisites
http://www.qlikview.com/
open data
freedom to discover
frictionless sharing of data sets
ability to "mix-in" and explore varied data sets
location independence of data sets
What tools do digital activists need?
Digital activists do not need campaign tools
“Peer-to-peer software, if we could make it work, would
seem to give the best of both worlds:
the freedom to modify how a program functions on our
local computers as well as the ability to share and
collaborate with others across the Internet.
Why do we need location independence?
for the same reason that bit torrent is popular
-- Aaron Swartz
A Programable Web: An Unfinished Work
http://www.morganclaypool.com/doi/abs/10.2200/S00481ED1V01Y201302WBE005
The attraction of peer to peer
but I think we need a more research to make this work
we get location independence for free
the publisher is relieved of the burden to share
distribution is the responsibility of those that want it
To turn Open Data into Common Knowledge
so that we can spend our effort almost exclusively on the mental (analysis) battle
simple data
format
extensible meta
data format
lower the cost of participation
compose into
new data sets
compute power
to discover
lower the cost of discovery
peer to peer
distribution lower the cost of sharing
common
knowledge
freedom to distribute
knowledge close at hand
ability to reach people
ability to receive feedback
What tools do social activists need?
Social activists also need tools for campaigning
Reminder
this applies regardless of scale - from few to thousands to millions of people
activism is a call
for a gathering of people
to exert pressure
for
(social, political, environmental, economic)
change
Most commonly...
to stop exploitation
to alleviate under-development
under-development is the result of unfair
agreements for access to resources
(in other words)
Activism is an effort to ...
…establish new relationships.
A balancing via fair and equal agreements
common
knowledge
freedom to distribute
knowledge close at hand
ability to reach people
ability to receive feedback
What tools do social activists need?
Social activists also need tools for campaigning
federated wikis is an interesting development
How can we make knowledge accessible?
overlaps with location independence for digital activists
https://github.com/WardCunningham/Smallest-Federated-Wiki
Wiki is centralised with many editors
Federated wiki belongs to a single person
Sharing is achieved between wikis
common
knowledge
freedom to distribute
knowledge close at hand
ability to reach people
ability to receive feedback
What tools do social activists need?
Social activists also need tools for campaigning
How can we reach people?
this is not about about twitter and social media
Awareness is the first stage of
involvement for activists
NOT shotgun marketing
Very specific and targeted messages
It can be private too!
lots of marketing
strategy involved
common
knowledge
freedom to distribute
knowledge close at hand
ability to reach people
ability to receive feedback
What tools do social activists need?
Social activists also need tools for campaigning
How can we receive feedback?
this starts overlapping with campaign tools quite quickly
The channel you reach out is not
necessarily the channel for feedback
about shifting people through various
stages from being aware to organiser
Open Data is NOT the end game
it is just a pre-requisite for us to carve out new social relationships
frictionless data sets
makes it easier to
to compose new data sets at will
discover new facts
so that we can
that can be shared
independent of where it is located
can distribute it
so that social activists
it becomes common knowledge
and eventually
fight against
corruption
How much is being
siphoned off?
What is the money trail?
At what cost to our
people?
call for economic
boycott
Why must we sacrifice
for freedom?
What pressure will our
sacrifice have on the
ruling white minority?
Common knowledge is valuable
It is valuable to any person that values living together
1992
How soon before Open Data is used for
exploitation instead of good?
Ideologically speaking...
This is important in the bigger picture of digital activism
What are the consequences if we consider
data as a “natural” resource?
In the internet of things
privacy is the next freedom.
“Magic machine cannot match
Human being human being
African idea -- make the future clear
They are the scatterlings of Africa
Each uprooted one
On the road to Phelamanga
Beneath the copper sun
And for the scatterlings of Africa
The journey has begun
-- Johnny Clegg
Scatterlings of Africa
*
*The place at the end of lies. It is the place beyond
our imagination where ultimate truth prevails.
Common
Knowledge
Activism
Aslam Khan / @aslamkhn

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How to get open data into the hands of activists

  • 1. HOW TO GET OPEN DATA IN THE HANDS OF ACTIVISTS Aslam Khan @aslamkhn
  • 3. 1977 School Protest 8y 1985 State of Emergency 16 Detention without trial 1986 17 1988 19 Worker & Student Pressure 1993 Brink of Civil War 23 Activist by default if you lived on the receiving end of apartheid in South Africa
  • 4. 1969 23 years 1992 22born Would data have been valuable to me - in both eras? 21 years now 2013 I want to believe so but I'm not sure
  • 5. This is Cape Town, South Africa Khayelitsha
  • 6. This is Khayelitsha, Cape Town It means New Home in isiXhosa
  • 7.
  • 9. chemical toilet ditto ditto There is (almost) no bulk sewage
  • 10. source: ewn.co.za People protested using the most shocking means imaginable
  • 11. More Importantly... Why did nearly 4 million residents of Cape Town not know about this issue? How wide spread is this problem? Why did we let this degrade into a battle for political points?
  • 12. because it was just noisy people (perception!)
  • 13. Khayelitsha 29 sq.km 400,00 people Look at the data behind the protest This touches the mind first, then the heart (a little) all figures are approximate 13.7k people/sq.km 2000 people share eleven flush toilets Everyone in Denmark will live into about 400 sq.km not 43k sq.km
  • 14. Durbanville 27 sq.km 55,000 people 2,000 people/sq.km 1 flush toilet per house 4 people per flush toilet Khayelitsha 29 sq.km 400,00 people 13.7k people/sq.km 180 people per flush toilet 25km Facts stick when it touches hearts make it concrete and tangible so that it appeals to everyone, not just the disenfranchised On average, Khayelitsha toilets are used every 8 minutes so that each person can use a flush toilet once a day
  • 15. Wikipedia Report of the Khayelitsha 'Mshengu' Toilet Social Audit Open Data for Africa Statistics South Africa Where did I find these facts? There is data available, but it is scattered, and not all open data various news web sites
  • 16. What would we do differently if we had access to data?
  • 17. Offering data to social activists has little value We need to distill data into facts that are simple, precise and easily understood that appeals to hearts and minds
  • 18. common knowledge Social activists need to share we need tools to access discoveries and distribute widely open data Digital activists need to discover we need tools to discover facts in data and publish discoveries freedom to distributefreedom to discover
  • 19. open data freedom to discover frictionless sharing of data sets ability to "mix-in" and explore varied data sets location independence of data sets What tools do digital activists need? Digital activists do not need campaign tools
  • 20. software freedoms freedom to execute and modify freedom to distribute freedom to share changes Pre-requisites Normally codified in licenses data freedoms free to access, reuse, redistribute available as a whole machine readable
  • 21. open data freedom to discover frictionless sharing of data sets ability to "mix-in" and explore varied data sets location independence of data sets What tools do digital activists need? Digital activists do not need campaign tools
  • 22. Frictionless Data Sharing open datastandards based Lowest common denominator standards allow for richly adorned data sets simplest machine readable formats are anemic The constraint is meta data Must provide metadata early When/How do we get metadata?
  • 24. Can we compare poverty between countries? Why metadata is the biggest constraint mostly because of changes in context and time US Census Bureau UNESCO World Bank WHO multiple definitions of poverty threshold South Africa adjustment for Sub-Sahara and medium income economies povertymetadata
  • 25. poverty Can we compare poverty between countries? No metadata, No analysis metadata It's difficult to compare because the metadata is different for each country BUT without metadata it is impossible
  • 26. HIGH barrier to get in HIGH cost of conformance The problem with a strict standard format The problem with any standard is that compliance is a choice But the cost of metadata remains, regardless of compliance
  • 27. Frictionless Data Sharing I doubt we can ever remove the cost of metadata completely open data simplest extensible format for metadata simplest machine readable format for data Open Knowledge Foundation's Data Package Standard is a step in the right direction http://data.okfn.org/standards/data-package JSON for metadata + CSV for tabular data
  • 28. open data freedom to discover frictionless sharing of data sets ability to "mix-in" and explore varied data sets location independence of data sets What tools do digital activists need? Digital activists do not need campaign tools
  • 29. Why do we need data exploration tools? LOW barrier to get in Cost of computation (analysis) What is the effort to get knowledge out? constraint shifts (frictionless data sharing)
  • 30. Why do we need to compose data sets? because that is where the interesting and relevant facts lurk When is per capita income interesting? Correlation between infant mortality and per capita income? … between parent to child HIV infections and per capita income? Digital activists are in the business of data science - not campaigning
  • 31. What do we need for discovering facts? Split into individual columns and compose columns ad-lib treat every column as a data set & Find all other occurrences of a single value remove all duplications in every column and join on “value” then look for trends if we make the above easy then the cost is mental effort I DON’T KNOW Set-based? Graph-based? something else? how?!?
  • 32. Is there such a data discovery tool? QlikView fails freedom pre-requisites http://www.qlikview.com/
  • 33. open data freedom to discover frictionless sharing of data sets ability to "mix-in" and explore varied data sets location independence of data sets What tools do digital activists need? Digital activists do not need campaign tools
  • 34. “Peer-to-peer software, if we could make it work, would seem to give the best of both worlds: the freedom to modify how a program functions on our local computers as well as the ability to share and collaborate with others across the Internet. Why do we need location independence? for the same reason that bit torrent is popular -- Aaron Swartz A Programable Web: An Unfinished Work http://www.morganclaypool.com/doi/abs/10.2200/S00481ED1V01Y201302WBE005
  • 35. The attraction of peer to peer but I think we need a more research to make this work we get location independence for free the publisher is relieved of the burden to share distribution is the responsibility of those that want it
  • 36. To turn Open Data into Common Knowledge so that we can spend our effort almost exclusively on the mental (analysis) battle simple data format extensible meta data format lower the cost of participation compose into new data sets compute power to discover lower the cost of discovery peer to peer distribution lower the cost of sharing
  • 37. common knowledge freedom to distribute knowledge close at hand ability to reach people ability to receive feedback What tools do social activists need? Social activists also need tools for campaigning
  • 38. Reminder this applies regardless of scale - from few to thousands to millions of people activism is a call for a gathering of people to exert pressure for (social, political, environmental, economic) change
  • 39. Most commonly... to stop exploitation to alleviate under-development under-development is the result of unfair agreements for access to resources (in other words)
  • 40. Activism is an effort to ... …establish new relationships. A balancing via fair and equal agreements
  • 41. common knowledge freedom to distribute knowledge close at hand ability to reach people ability to receive feedback What tools do social activists need? Social activists also need tools for campaigning
  • 42. federated wikis is an interesting development How can we make knowledge accessible? overlaps with location independence for digital activists https://github.com/WardCunningham/Smallest-Federated-Wiki Wiki is centralised with many editors Federated wiki belongs to a single person Sharing is achieved between wikis
  • 43. common knowledge freedom to distribute knowledge close at hand ability to reach people ability to receive feedback What tools do social activists need? Social activists also need tools for campaigning
  • 44. How can we reach people? this is not about about twitter and social media Awareness is the first stage of involvement for activists NOT shotgun marketing Very specific and targeted messages It can be private too! lots of marketing strategy involved
  • 45. common knowledge freedom to distribute knowledge close at hand ability to reach people ability to receive feedback What tools do social activists need? Social activists also need tools for campaigning
  • 46. How can we receive feedback? this starts overlapping with campaign tools quite quickly The channel you reach out is not necessarily the channel for feedback about shifting people through various stages from being aware to organiser
  • 47. Open Data is NOT the end game it is just a pre-requisite for us to carve out new social relationships frictionless data sets makes it easier to to compose new data sets at will discover new facts so that we can that can be shared independent of where it is located can distribute it so that social activists it becomes common knowledge and eventually
  • 48. fight against corruption How much is being siphoned off? What is the money trail? At what cost to our people? call for economic boycott Why must we sacrifice for freedom? What pressure will our sacrifice have on the ruling white minority? Common knowledge is valuable It is valuable to any person that values living together 1992
  • 49. How soon before Open Data is used for exploitation instead of good? Ideologically speaking... This is important in the bigger picture of digital activism What are the consequences if we consider data as a “natural” resource? In the internet of things privacy is the next freedom.
  • 50. “Magic machine cannot match Human being human being African idea -- make the future clear They are the scatterlings of Africa Each uprooted one On the road to Phelamanga Beneath the copper sun And for the scatterlings of Africa The journey has begun -- Johnny Clegg Scatterlings of Africa * *The place at the end of lies. It is the place beyond our imagination where ultimate truth prevails.