…what the economic, political and social impact of increased transparency is?

By the Transparency Working Group @ the London Summit on Re-Thinking Government, Re-Imagining Democracy

Overall research approach:

  • What is a general framework for performing active research on transparency?
  • What factors influence whether transparency leads to positive economic, political and/or social change?
  • What perceptions or differences exist among open datasets based on their providers: government agencies, NGOs, businesses and individuals?
  • What are some initiatives already underway that offer the potential for “live experiments”?

Desired outcomes:

  • How can we determine which factors lead to the ultimate success or failure of transparency initiatives in achieving desired outcomes?
  • How can we connect researchers working on similar projects in different academic fields and disciplines?
  • How can we use this research to inform government policy?
  • How can we encourage government agencies to open data both among themselves and for the public?
  • How can we encourage businesses to open data out of enlightened self-interest?

Factors for consideration:

  • Including both quantitative and qualitative (case-study) impact studies will be important
  • Both quantitative and qualitative (case-study) impact studies will be important
  • Research should not be focused on success/failure, but on the factors that lead to success or failure
  • To do that, study the lifecycle of open data: Transparency, usability, communication to users
  • Find opportunities for collaboration – beginning with social impact of open data in the global south (WWW Foundation/CTG)
  • Bring economists into the discussion (prize contest?)
  • What new forms of collaboration have emerged in the Internet era?

1 thought on “…what the economic, political and social impact of increased transparency is?

  1. Ellie K

    I can write an evidence-based technical report that would motivate a complete response to the ultimate inquiry, What is the economic, political and social impact of increased transparency? I would draw from case-studies of the following sort:
    open government data repositories (U.S. and non-U.S.), and the common characteristics that made them helpful to transparency efforts, where helpfulness is gauged by counts of actual usage, and scope of that usage
    examples of transparency initiatives and associated websites, and why they have failed, with very specific details of data or processes cited that caused such perceived or actual failure
    government agencies who are willing and enthusiastic providers of data and relevant documentation, yet have not been widely recognized and praised for such, or alternatively, are not utilized for specific reasons, and plausible remedies
    instances where transparency was not socially beneficial, because it caused network effects that resulted in unintended privacy breaches or enabled data usage that was intended by law to be kept separate by firewalls; and effective collaboration systems between researchers in academia and industry, and the occasional overlap that brings academia, industry and government together, doing work utilizing shared data, productively (a triumph of transparency, though uncommon), and why that was possible.
    This technical report would be used to solicit feedback, followed by synthesis, and finally, plans of action to address each of the Desired Outcomes, as specified in your post. To do this, I would require compensation as a contractor or employee or grant recipient. In return, I would ensure that my work was of value to those who paid for it.

    Contests such as Innocentive won’t work, not for this. I think well of Innocentive! I notice their posts in the right sidebar whenever I read Springer or Elsevier or Wiley scholarly articles, Crowd sourcing will be of limited use; at best, in an ancillary role. I feel strongly that what was once known by the ILGWU (Int’l Ladies Garment Worker’s Union) as “piecework”, associated with aptly-named sweatshops, is not the right approach to everything.

    I found my way here via Twitter. I am a widowed, unemployed woman with advanced degrees from known institutions. I am a U.S. national. I have extensive experience in data analysis and recent experience with web apps. Please, contact me if I may be of assistance to your project?


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