A fear of open data heresy? Time to move beyond zealotry?

[Summary: A quick post for folk mainly for folk at today’s Open Government Data Camp, on the need to raise critical perspectives about open government.]

There are strong normative arguments for opening up government data – and there is great potential to be realised from that.

However, whilst the broad brush idea can command widespread support, the details of how we do open government data matter, and attentiveness to the social impacts is vital.

I’ve heard many people at events, including the Open Government Data Camp, express nuanced views on openness. And yet, far too often such views have been followed by comments such as “but I’m not sure I should be saying that sort of thing here”, or a retreat from the critical argument in order to add voices to the call for ‘more data now’.

So – I’m for a bit more heresy. A bit more challenge to the zealotry. A slightly louder voice for the critical friends of the open data movement.

It’s possible to argue for greater openness of data, and to think critically about the impacts that open data will have. It’s important to ask the question ‘Open data + what’ ? What do we need to be doing as well as releasing data to drive positive social change.

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