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Unpacking open data: power, 
politics and the influence of 
infrastructures 
Harvard Berkman Centre for Internet and Socie...
Overview 
1) Framing and method 
2) A brief history 
3) Unpacking the standard model 
4) Questioning the standard model 
5...
Framing & method
Null hypothesis" 
(examples) 
• H1: Open data is not delivering widespread 
inclusive civic engagement; 
• H2: Open data i...
www.opendatabarometer.org 
http://ssrn.[ ] com/abstract=2492520 
www.opendataresearch.org/reports/ 
standard.open-contract...
“The group is offering a set of fundamental principles for open 
government data. By embracing the eight principles, gover...
Public Sector Information Industry
Political crisis
Unpacking the standard model
Open Data Barometer - 2013 Overall Ranking
Proactively published | Machine Readable | Legally re-usable
Machine Readable | Proactively published | Legally re-usable 
JSON
Open datasets 
Impact Theory of change 
Intermediaries & Apps
Photo credit: Transparent Chennai 
Politics Co-production Markets 
http://www.opendataimpacts.net/report
Questioning the standard model 
Picture credit: Some rights reserved by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Number of datasets in sample meeting standard model definition 
0$ 10$ 20$ 30$ 40$ 50$ 60$ 70$ 
1050$ 
1660$ 
1865$ 
1790$...
Table 4. Primariness of published spending 
Entity of the federation committed settled paid budgetary unit function sub-fu...
USA (2009) | Denmark (2009) | UK (2010) |  
Kenya (2011) | India (2012) | Philippines (2014)
Common elements across country policies 
Policy component Countries 
Launching a portal UK, USA, Kenya, India, 
Philippine...
Shaping information infrastructures
Null hypothesis 
(revisited) 
• H1: Open data is not delivering widespread 
inclusive civic engagement; 
• H2: Open data i...
Re-imagining open data
Decontextualised data Data in context
Decontextualised data Data in context 
Epiphenomenal data Active Data
Decontextualised data Data in context 
Epiphenomenal data Active Data 
Inclusive information  
infrastructure 
Raw data no...
Decontextualised data Data in context 
Epiphenomenal data Active Data 
Inclusive information  
infrastructure 
Raw data no...
Unpacking open data: power, 
politics and the influence of 
infrastructures 
Tweet via: #berkman 
Tim Davies | tim.davies@...
Unpacking open data: power, 
politics and the influence of 
infrastructures 
Live-stream participants:  
you can tweet que...
Image Credits Hossen27: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Below_Auckland_Harbour_Bridge_Hossen27.jpg 
! 
Bidgee: htt...
Offcuts
Policy emphasis  
shifts over time 
! 
India, USA, UK - from 
democratic to 
economic 
! 
Denmark - efficiency 
 innovatio...
Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure
Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure
Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure
Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure
Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure
Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure
Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure
Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure
Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure
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Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure

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From a talk at the Berkman Center for Internet and Sociey on 25th November 2014. https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/events/luncheon/2014/11/davies

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Unpacking Open Data: power, politics and the importance of infrastructure

  1. 1. Unpacking open data: power, politics and the influence of infrastructures Harvard Berkman Centre for Internet and Society November 25th 2014 Tim Davies | tim.davies@soton.ac.uk | @timdavies
  2. 2. Overview 1) Framing and method 2) A brief history 3) Unpacking the standard model 4) Questioning the standard model 5) Shaping information infrastructures 6) Re-imagining an open data agenda
  3. 3. Framing & method
  4. 4. Null hypothesis" (examples) • H1: Open data is not delivering widespread inclusive civic engagement; • H2: Open data is not delivering scaleable innovation; • H3: Open data is not substantially shifting the balance of power between citizen and state;
  5. 5. www.opendatabarometer.org http://ssrn.[ ] com/abstract=2492520 www.opendataresearch.org/reports/ standard.open-contracting.org
  6. 6. “The group is offering a set of fundamental principles for open government data. By embracing the eight principles, governments of the world can become more effective, transparent, and relevant to our lives.” Carl Malamud (2007), https://public.resource.org/8_principles.html Civic technology
  7. 7. Public Sector Information Industry
  8. 8. Political crisis
  9. 9. Unpacking the standard model
  10. 10. Open Data Barometer - 2013 Overall Ranking
  11. 11. Proactively published | Machine Readable | Legally re-usable
  12. 12. Machine Readable | Proactively published | Legally re-usable JSON
  13. 13. Open datasets Impact Theory of change Intermediaries & Apps
  14. 14. Photo credit: Transparent Chennai Politics Co-production Markets http://www.opendataimpacts.net/report
  15. 15. Questioning the standard model Picture credit: Some rights reserved by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
  16. 16. Number of datasets in sample meeting standard model definition 0$ 10$ 20$ 30$ 40$ 50$ 60$ 70$ 1050$ 1660$ 1865$ 1790$ 2390$ 2685$ 2660$ 2655$ 2530$ 2985$ 2860$ 3$ 3$ 3$ 3$ 8$ 4$ 4$ 4$ 5$ 5$ 10$ 6$ 6$ 7$ n = 77" ! 2013 Open Data Barometer ! Maximum possible dataset score = 7700 0$ 500$ 1000$ 1500$ 2000$ 2500$ 3000$ 3500$ 4000$ Countries Census$ Trade$ Educa=on$ Budget$ Environment$ Health$ Elec=ons$ Crime$ Map$ Spend$ Legisla=on$ Transport$ Company$ Land$ Dataset score Aggregate openness score for each data category 3330$ 3740$ 3650$ Openness score based on weighted response to 10 variables per dataset, covering existence, accessibility, machine-readability, bulk downloads, free of charge, license, sustainability, timeliness, discoverability, and linked-data versions of datasets.
  17. 17. Table 4. Primariness of published spending Entity of the federation committed settled paid budgetary unit function sub-function nature of spending source of funds type of tender no. of the process +Ɯ /6 good/service provided City Hall of Rio de Janeiro ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Sao Luis ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Joao Pessoa ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ƛ ,#1%,*-1/,))/ +/)Ȕ Federal Executive ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Teresina ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ Federal Senate ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Palmas ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Maceio ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Curitiba ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Salvador ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Sao Paulo ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Boa Vista ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Recife ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Belem ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Florianopolis ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Macapa ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Fortaleza ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Porto Alegre ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Cuiaba ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ Government of the Federal District ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Vitoria ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Goiania ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Porto Velho ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Belo Horizonte ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Natal ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Aracaju ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ City Hall of Campo Grande ˛ ˛ City Hall of Rio Branco ˛ ˛ City Hall of Manaus ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ ˛ Source and Prepared by: Gpopai/Usp, 2014.
  18. 18. USA (2009) | Denmark (2009) | UK (2010) | Kenya (2011) | India (2012) | Philippines (2014)
  19. 19. Common elements across country policies Policy component Countries Launching a portal UK, USA, Kenya, India, Philippines, Denmark Specifying license UK, USA, Denmark, Philippines Zero-charge for data UK, USA, Denmark Departmental action plans (1) or officials responsible for 1: UK, USA open data in each agency (2) 2: USA, India Specification of meta-data standards USA, Philippines, India, UK Emphasis on visualisations and info-graphics Philippines, India Specific datasets or categories of data to be released UK, USA Adopting the ‘five stars of linked open data’ UK, Philippines, India Emphasis on ‘high-value’ datasets USA, UK, Philippines, India, Denmark Re-thinking government information infrastructures: rationalising databases and adopting data standards Explicit in Danish and Indian policies, implied in USA, UK and Philippines
  20. 20. Shaping information infrastructures
  21. 21. Null hypothesis (revisited) • H1: Open data is not delivering widespread inclusive civic engagement; • H2: Open data is not delivering scaleable innovation; • H3: Open data is not substantially shifting the balance of power between citizen and state;
  22. 22. Re-imagining open data
  23. 23. Decontextualised data Data in context
  24. 24. Decontextualised data Data in context Epiphenomenal data Active Data
  25. 25. Decontextualised data Data in context Epiphenomenal data Active Data Inclusive information infrastructure Raw data now
  26. 26. Decontextualised data Data in context Epiphenomenal data Active Data Inclusive information infrastructure Raw data now
  27. 27. Unpacking open data: power, politics and the influence of infrastructures Tweet via: #berkman Tim Davies | tim.davies@soton.ac.uk | @timdavies
  28. 28. Unpacking open data: power, politics and the influence of infrastructures Live-stream participants: you can tweet questions or comments on the #berkman tag Tim Davies | tim.davies@soton.ac.uk | @timdavies
  29. 29. Image Credits Hossen27: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Below_Auckland_Harbour_Bridge_Hossen27.jpg ! Bidgee: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:Rural_landscape_of_Wantabadgery_near_Mundarlo_from_the_air.jpg ! Martin Richards: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Houses_of_parliament_London.jpg ! Lin Kristensen: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Timeless_Books.jpg ! Epic Fireworks: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maersk_container_with_Fireworks.jpg ! David Orban: http://donneesouvertes.info/2012/04/30/comment-lopen-data-est-devenu-un-objet-politique/ ! Strebe: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gall%E2%80%93Peters_projection_SW.jpg ! Sergiu Bacioiu: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ripple_effect_on_water.jpg ! National Museum of American History: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cardboard_ballot_box_-_Smithsonian.jpg ! Christian Frausto Bernal: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MercadodeSanJuandeDios.jpg ! Brewdog: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:San_Francisco_Oakland_Bay_Bridge_New_east_span.jpg ! Luke Johnson: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/12/mps-expenses-under-fire
  30. 30. Offcuts
  31. 31. Policy emphasis shifts over time ! India, USA, UK - from democratic to economic ! Denmark - efficiency innovation ! Kenya - innovation, tech ! Philippines - accountability

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