In the technology world, "openness!" has long been a battle cry of the underprivileged.
It's the language of bottom up freedom against top-downcontrol; of Linux against Microsoft and Wikipedia against Britannica. And now, open government data is the demand of those who would drag government data out from behind locked doors.
But the world has changed since Linus Torvalds started his hobby operating system, and now openness is heard from the top as much as the bottom.
The past few years have seen new companies, flush with venture capital, invoking openness even as they build centralised, fundamentally closed systems. In January, Coursera and Udacity went to Davos (of all places) to cast themselves as radicals out to disrupt education. Taxi-alternative Uber and apartment-renting AirBnB seek to build billion-dollar businesses while urging us throw off the yoke of local government regulations, taxi cartels and big B&B.
This is no longer the "world turned upside down", it's the world turned right back the way it was, with money on top.
Will the open data movement be a force for community-led democratisation or for a new wave of algorithm-driven corporate giants? There are worrying signs of the latter.