This week: Open Data for Open Hearts and Open Minds

Chances are, if you’re reading this you’re already pretty familiar with the ideas, policies and theories behind Open Data. However, I really liked Tim Davis presentation he posted on his blog Open Data Impacts for his clear description of the three main theories of change behind Open Data.

Each theory is based on the idea that a transfer of information means a re-ordering of power. The focus is on the idea that more power and opportunity for involvement in governance is then granted to those who were lacking; to the citizen, the CSO, the journalist. More data = more power.

Rob Kitchin brings up a frustrating and, at times, heartbreaking point in his post “Four critiques of open data initiatives.” By opening up data it also allows the already empowered to have access to it as well. And they can come with more resources to be able to use the data to their benefit, further leaving behind the disenfranchised we so wanted to see empowered.

Rather than walk away with our heads bowed and our tails between our legs, it is a reminder of the additional steps that need to be taken as part a of these initiatives. Programs are necessary to teach the marginalized, and those who work for them, how they can use this data.

I loved reading Nikhil Dey’s story of their London cab driver, who is the type of engaged citizen we all want to work for and be, one with an “open mind and open heart.” It is in the hands of these citizens where a combination of information and skilled resources would be powerful.

Recently, Juan Pardinas, outgoing Open Government Partnership Steering Committee member, talked about how more open government has improved the relationship between civil society and government in Mexico by “advancing the quality of debate and discussion on governance issues.”

The conversations around open government data are changing from simply “we need data” to, “what can we do with it, how should we do it, and how can we improve it?”

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.

Tags: open data