Last week, I posted about the work I’m doing this year to get to the bottom of the impact open data policies have had on people’s lives to date.
Well, I’m about a month into that work, and I’m already thinking about revising my goals. By which I mean, if I can’t get to the bottom of this, maybe I can get about halfway down…?
My first post sparked some fun debate on Twitter, notably between Global Integrity’s co-founder and former director Nathaniel Heller and Development Gateway’s Josh Powell, and with Friedrich Lindenberg from Code4Africa and Open Knowledge Germany.
So, given how open (ahem) people appear to be to helping me think through this stuff on air, I thought I’d throw out the template set of questions I’m reaching out with to various open data scholars and practitioners in the coming months.
I hope they’ll spark even more engagement from anyone out there who feels they’ve got a dog in this fight. And just in case 140 characters don’t quite accommodate your thoughts on this, trackbacks and comments are also welcome (you can also email me, if you’d prefer).
- Can you name your top three examples of where you think open data has had a positive impact?
- How conscious do we have to be of the potentially negative impacts and unforeseen consequences of releasing open data sets or of open data policies in general? Are there stories to tell here too?
- Are there any particular sectors or spheres where you think open data is more likely to have a positive impact?
- Is open data more likely to have positive economic impacts than it is political, social or environmental ones? Or are economic impacts simply easier to quantify? Or both?
- What approaches have you seen to thinking and talking about open data impact that you think are valuable?
- Is it too soon to get a good idea about impact? Has open data been given enough of a chance to prove its worth?
- Where around the world (and not just US/UK) do we see open data sets that pre-date the recent Open Government Partnership commitments, and where we might therefore expect to see measurable impact?
- Do you subscribe to the theory that open data growth will be subject to network effects, and that we might not see impact at scale until it’s travelled a bit further along the power law curve?
- What are your favourite examples of measuring social/political/environmental impacts from other fields? Can they be applied to open data?
- Given one of the cited advantages of open data is that it allows many possible benefits, including unanticipated benefits, and given that research designed to evidence impact generally needs to be specific to a target or goal, is it harder to evaluate the impact of open data policies than it might be for other types of policies?