Effective transparency is not a 'release-the-information-and-they-will-come' proposition. Information disclosure occurs within an ecosystem of interest groups and advocacy organizations that remix, repackage, and redistribute information once it is released. This civil-society context in which data is released significantly affects the effectiveness transparency can have.
In contrast to the average citizen, the media and existing interest groups can pay attention and evaluate complex policy issues, which they are able to observe because of the existence of relatively robust transparency regimes.
Making as much information available, in as timely a way as possible and in machine-readable, open, bulk formats lowers barriers for these organizations to operate.
Transparency doesn't solve everything, but it does make the marketplace of competing interests work better, and in so doing it helps align politicians’ incentives to promote responsive outcomes.
[Original text by Alexander Furnas, the Sunlight Foundation. Published by the Atlantic]