This week in Open Data and Citizen Engagement: The LBD of Open Data

The Little Black Dress of Open Data

As the ability to collect “big data” gets easier and easier, Marc Bellemare’s point that big data is good for forecasting, but not good for finding causal relationship, is an important one to keep in mind. What you want to be able to do with the data should define how it is collected. 

 
A recent interview with the “Jedi master of data visualization” Hans Rosling highlighted how much attention data can get once someone dresses it up and gives it some oomph; which actually merges nicely into an idea brought up on the eGov AU blog.  The thought was that a poorly designed open government website is not as open as a well-designed one.
 
You could say a well-designed opengov website is the little black dress that flatters, bringing attention and curiosity, while the poorly designed one is the frumpy sweater that allows the “wearer” to hide what they don’t want noticed in the heavy folds. If the data is hard to look at and therefore hard to find, it’s not really as open is it?

It seems like Russia might be more of the frumpy sweater type as they recently withdrew from the Open Government Partnership. Meanwhile, Steven Shakespeare, CEO of YouGov suggests that getting data open is a process. Sometimes you have start with just walking out of the house, even if it’s in an ugly sweater, and eventually you progress to the point where the LBD comes out. While this may be true, let’s hope that they don’t get too comfortable in that sweater!
 
Speaking of data LBDs, the recently released 2013 Resource Governance Index from Revenue Watch is looking pretty good! Or maybe I should say bad considering that less than 20 percent of the countries measured have satisfactory standards of transparency and accountability.
 
Speak up!
 
The UN received the first results from the ‘My World’ survey that included half a million citizens from 194 countries on the issues they want to see address in preparation for post-2015. The top three issues so far are “a good education”, “better healthcare” and “an honest and responsive government.” You’ll notice the last one is a new issue that wasn’t addressed in the MDGs, and covers the topics of transparency, accountability and coordination with citizen needs.
 
If you want to know if citizen engagement can really make a difference in combatting corruption, take a look at the videos on this panel put on by ODI that discusses just this. Fredrik Galtung, of Integrity Action and one of the panelists, talks about the newly released working paper on the “Fix Rate” that measures the impact of their “Community Integrity Building” approach. 
 
Weekly updates are written by Taryn Davis of Development Gateway; email her your tips for next week's update to get a shout-out in the post.
 
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