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Larry Lessig on Open Government Data Principles

My great movie.
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Open Government Data #OGD
Topics concerning the Open Government Partnership and open government data. My contribution to free resources for the OGD community in Republic of Macedonia in loving memory of #AaronSwarz
Header image taken from https://secure.flickr.com/photos/quinn/8390494914/sizes/h/in/photostream/ (CC BY 2.0)


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Дефиниција на Слободно Знаење | Open Definition

Defining the Open in Open Data, Open Content and Open Services
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Transparency is Bunk

Transparency is Bunk | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it

image from https://twitpic.com/butjn1

Dimitar Poposki's insight:

 

Text c-pasted from http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/transparencybunk

 

(Aaron Swartz's Raw Thought)

 

Adapted from an impromptu rant I gave to some people interested in funding government transparency projects.

I’ve spent the past year and change working on a site, watchdog.net, that publishes government information online. In doing that, I’ve learned a lot: I’ve looked at everything from pollution records to voter registration databases and I’ve figured out a number of bureacratic tricks to get information out of the government. But I’ve also become increasingly skeptical of the transparency project in general, at least as it’s carried out in the US.

The way a typical US transparency project works is pretty simple. You find a government database, work hard to get or parse a copy, and then put it online with some nice visualizations.

The problem is that reality doesn’t live in the databases. Instead, the databases that are made available, even if grudgingly, form a kind of official cover story, a veil of lies over the real workings of government. If you visit a site like GovTrack, which publishes information on what Congresspeople are up to, you find that all of Congress’s votes are on inane items like declaring holidays and naming post offices. The real action is buried in obscure subchapters of innocuous-sounding bills and voted on under emergency provisions that let everything happen without public disclosure.

So government transparency sites end up having three possible effects. The vast majority of them simply promote these official cover stories, misleading the public about what’s really going on. The unusually cutting ones simply make plain the mindnumbing universality of waste and corruption, and thus promote apathy. And on very rare occasions you have a “success”: an extreme case is located through your work, brought to justice, and then everyone goes home thinking the problem has been solved, as the real corruption continues on as before.

In short, the generous impulses behind transparency sites end up doing more harm than good.

But this is nothing new. The whole history of the “good government” movement in the US is of “reformers” who, intentionally or otherwise, weakened the cause of democracy. They too were primarily supported by large foundations, mostly Ford and Rockefeller. They replaced democratically-elected mayors with professional city managers, which required a supermajority to overrule. They insisted on nonpartisan elections, making it difficult to organize people into political blocs. Arguing it would reduce corruption, they insisted city politicians serve without paying, ensuring the jobs were only open to the wealthy.

I worry that transparency groups may be making the same “mistake”.

These are some dark thoughts, so I want to add a helpful alternative: journalism. Investigative journalism lives up to the promise that transparency sites make. Let me give three examples: Silverstein, Taibbi, Caro.

Ken Silverstein regularly writes brilliant pieces about the influence of money in politics. And he uses these sorts of databases to do so. But the databases are always a small part of a larger picture, supplemented with interviews, documents, and even undercover investigation — he recently did a piece where he posted as a representative of the government of Turkmenistan and described how he was wined and dined by lobbyists eager to build support for that noxious regime. The story, and much more, is told in his book Turkmeniscam. (His book Washington Babylon is similarly indispensible.)

Matt Taibbi, in his book The Great Derangement, describes how Congress really works. He goes to the capitol and lays out the whole scene: the Congressmen naming post offices on the House floor, the journalists typing in the press releases they’re handed, the key actions going on behind the scenes and out of the public eye, the continual use of emergency procedures to evade disclosure laws.

And Robert Caro, in his incredible book The Power Broker (one of the very best books ever published, I’m convinced) takes on this fundamental political question of “Who’s actually responsible for what my government is doing?” For forty years, everyone in New York thought they knew the answer: power was held by the city council, the mayor, the state legislature, and the governor. After all, they run the government, right?

And for forty years, they were all wrong. Power was held — held, for the most part, absolutely, without any checks or outside influence — by one man: Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. All that time, everyone (especially the press) treated Robert Moses as merely the Parks Commissioner, a mere public servant serving his elected officials. In reality, he pulled the strings of all those elected officials.

These journalists tackled all the major questions supposedly addressed by US transparency sites — who’s buying influence? what is Congress doing? who’s in power in my neighborhood? — and not only tell a richer, more informative story, but come to strikingly different answers to the questions. In this era where investigative reporting budgets have been cut to the bone and newspapers are folding left and right, it’s fallen to nonprofits like ProPublica and the Center for Independent Media and, from a previous era, the Center for Public Integrity, to pick up the slack. They’ve been using the Internet in innovative ways to supplement good old-fashioned narrative journalism, where transparency sites are a supplement, rather than an end-in-themselves.

For too long we’ve been funding transparency projects on the model of if-we-build-it-they-will-come: that we don’t know what transparency will be useful for, but once it’s done it will lead to all sorts of exciting possibilities. Well, we’ve built it. And they haven’t come. The only success story its proponents can point to is that transparency projects have bred even more transparency projects. I’m done working on watchdog.net; I’m done hurting America. It’s time to give old-fashioned narrative journalism a try.

 

Previously: Disinfecting the Sunlight Foundation [November 2006]

April 23, 2009

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Open Government Data

Open Government Data | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it

What is open government data? What is it good for? Find out by watching our short film

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I have translated the subtitles to Macedonian language (there are 25 more subtitle languages) so feel free to share the video.

 

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Акциски план за отворено владино партнерство

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Benefits of Open Government Data

VisibleGovernment.ca February 2009 talking points on benefits of Open Government Data from the government's perspective.
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Self-service Linked Government Data

A publishing pipeline for Linked Government Data
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Information & Communications Technologies - Open Government Partnership

Information & Communications Technologies - Open Government Partnership | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
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HM Government e-petitions

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The OGP Network | Open Government Partnership

The OGP Network | Open Government Partnership | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
WEBINAR ON PROACTIVE TRANSPARENCY
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Petition Online

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Open Data Case Studies | Government ICT Directions and Priorities

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Eight business models for government open data | Open Knowledge

Eight business models for government open data | Open Knowledge | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
Alex Howard has written an excellent article over at the O'Reilly Radar listing eight business models for government open data, a handy list for those in government agencies attempting to justify to senior management or Ministers why releasing government data is important and valuable.

Via jean lievens
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Announcing the Open Knowledge Conference 2013: Open Data ...

Announcing the Open Knowledge Conference 2013: Open Data ... | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
The world's leading open data and open knowledge event, OKCon is the latest in an annual series run since 2005. Last year's installment in Helsinki had more than 1000 participants from over 50 countries and was the largest ...
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Crime Map Macedonia

Crime Map Macedonia | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
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Larry Lessig on Open Government Data Principles

My great movie.
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Macedonia | Open Government Partnership

Macedonia | Open Government Partnership | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
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Opendata - data.gov.uk : how did we do it?

"Data.gov.uk : how did we do it?" Presentation by professor Nigel Shadbolt, UK Open Data Advisor ,17th March 2011, Paris. Conference organized by RSLN, Microso
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Overview of Open Data, Linked Data and Web Science

This slide aims to describe general overview of open data and linked data, the relationships between two concepts with examples.
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Gephi, an open source graph visualization and manipulation software

Gephi, an open source graph visualization and manipulation software | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
Gephi is an open-source software for visualizing and analyzing large networks graphs. Gephi uses a 3D render engine to display graphs in real-time and speed up the exploration.
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Summary of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Working Level | Open Government Partnership

Summary of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Working Level | Open Government Partnership | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
Dimitar Poposki's insight:

Mihajlo 

Zevairovski

Sector for Multilateral Relations Ministry of Foreign Affairs of  Republic of Macedonia

mihajlo.zevairovski@mfa.gov.mk

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Open Government Partnership - Webinars_9

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- ePetitions.net Create a Free Online Petition

Epetitions.net offers Customized petition designs, allows users to easily create and promote free online petitions.
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e-petitions

e-petitions | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
This is the code base for the UK Government's e-petitions service (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk)
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The top 20 data visualisation tools

The top 20 data visualisation tools | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
From simple charts to complex maps and infographics, Brian Suda's round-up of the best – and mostly free – tools has everything you need to bring your data to life...

 

One of the most common questions I get asked is how to get started with data visualisations. Beyond following blogs, you need to practise – and to practise, you need to understand the tools available.

 

In this article, I want to introduce you to 20 different tools for creating visualisations: from simple charts to complex graphs, maps and infographics.

 

Almost everything here is available for free, and some you have probably installed already.

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Map tools open sourced | data.gov.uk

Map tools open sourced | data.gov.uk | Open Government Data #OGD | Scoop.it
RT @Thierry_G: UK Govt data team open-sources mapping tools based on JS & OpenLayers http://t.co/6FINrPAy7T #opendata #geospatial | via @owenboswarva

Via Jose María Blanco
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