Open Data - diving into the deep end

Submitted by ydubel on Tue, 2011-03-08 23:35. ::

From: Common Cause The case for working with our cultural values


 "Bolder leadership from both political and business leaders is necessary if proportional responses to these challenges are to emerge, but active public engagement with these problems is of crucial importance. This is partly because of the direct material impacts of an individual’s behaviour (for example, his or her environmental footprint)

Thinking about the importance of cultural values is hardly a side issue when tackling ICT infrastructure for social innovation. My experience has led me to conclude that some communities are resistant to innovation. That is to say that systemic norms will act in ways that are in conflict with top down efforts to push innovation."



This community bridges policy makers, technologists, data owners, and citizens-each of us wants to get information to people who need to make decisions each day. As a member of this open data community, you can help to make this happen. Make recommendations on data that should be shared. Create an app or mashup that makes that data understandable. Share your views on what the policies should be for making government more transparent. Together we can make a difference in our own nations and to help improve the quality of life for people across the planet. 


 One of the things I had been critical of prior to deciding how to approach an alternative to protest art in institutional critique, was the way that technology solutions were developed and delivered - especially in government. 

 Excerpt from a previous narrative with a colleague:

"This is one of the main problems that has gotten in the way of so many other programs - a few years ago Congress had mandated "community management information systems" (CMIS) to support Continuum of Care services. However, there was so little understanding of technology that no one foresaw the problem of every county developing or buying its own system and then having them not be able to communicate with each other or tie in as agency systems started rolling out to reduce travel for audits etc. Who knows how many millions were spent on this in only a few years before the problem became really obvious.

That is how I came to be interested in FOSS. I was on the planning committee for our county CMIS - and the persistent withholding of community data (point in time homeless counts needed for service providers across the Continuum of Care) was a strategy for derailing social programs until someone (me) got the idea to go to a state agency to get the information but in some cases people would refuse to help until further assertion of rights to public access of this information. This has been a historical strategy for marginalization by limiting access to public information or data needed to assemble stronger funding applications/proposals.

The Open Data initiative seems to be a better strategy that previous attempts to address this challenge and it is an ideal place for FOSS to help define an interoperable solution - that would be a HUGE advantage for local organizing and increasing accountability - transparency of service providers."


The Data initiative is very encouraging and exciting! Encouraging because of the direction it takes to address the obstacles mentioned prior, in addition to what it means in terms of making information easier to find and digest will likely increase dissemination - and that is important to cultivate an informed community. 

One of the primary considerations in delivering shareholder/taxpayer value is to approach the situation mindful of how an age of multi-tasking has impacted our expectations. Don't overlook your assumptions and consider overlap of the inquiry and development. Many people will not be able to answer your questions until it is too late. How to make that tendency work for the process?

And that would be why this is exciting! Because my conception of Cultural Fusion as a series, and its Hotel Infinity specifically are interested in being vehicles for creative context dissemination of such information. Definitely a new approach to developing intuitive user interfaces. Contextualizing community data for distribution can also be part of advancing contextualized searching applications for re-use. Once again, I think this suggest that exploring these issues provides a better investment of resources because it delivers many times over on multiple levels....just as art has traditionally done in societies. A painting is more than its parts placed on the wall, but who can say exactly what it gives to each appreciative viewer? Likewise I think the same can be true of software art as an approach to developing socio-technical infrastructure. 

 It is important to remember that if the objective of Open Data is to promote social innovations that include transparency then the current website inviting comment from the public is a great first step. It is a definitive door opening gesture in support of open innovation. However it is not enough just create sites to post data, the government needs to help chart a direction for contextualizing this information by providing access to the required infrastructure, so that in the course of social innovation, data is transformed into knowledge that builds our Collective Intelligence.