Papers and Findings
- Nordic Open Access to Research Data. A new research paper reiterates important conditions for effective open access, and offers 3 recommendations for Nordic research communities that take advantage of their countries’ size and position.
- A psychology study in Zimbabwe suggests that for political activism in repressive political contexts, psychological resilience in the face of threats is a more important predictor of civic engagement than access to information or technology.
- Analysis of municipal electoral data in Mexico suggests that participatory governance mechanisms can strengthen authoritarian governance structures, and that participatory mechanisms are most impactful when they have a “bottom up” design.
- Define “open”: data portal edition: Austrian researchers dove into 232 open data portals to analyze the usability of 200,000 data sets. They find that it’s really messy in there. Only half the data labelled as tabular is actually csv, the meta data is bad, and a shocking number of words in the header values aren’t actually words. The authors offer a number of recommendations
to portal adminstrators that improve usability and facilitate exploratory analysis, including: limit the number of columns and header lines, one table per file, use header names that make sense for both the content and data variables.
Commentary / Community
- MySociety announced the next TicTeC (conference on the Impacts of Civic Technology), taking place in Florence, 25th and 26th April 2017.
- In prep for MERL Tech, FHI 360 and Girl Effect are hosting a survey and session on the “Sexist Data Crisis,” by which they mean the fact that women and girls are underrepresented in development data, and the impact this has on policy and program design. It’s an important issue, whose key points aren’t well represented in this blogpost, or the survey they have issued to back up the session. Hoping to hear that the conversation at MERLtech is both more nuanced and hands on. A tall order, I know.
- All the collaboration between NGOs and researchers: Duncan Green continued to reflect on the researcher/NGO disconnect, calling for more early collaboration between the two, while Innovations for Poverty Action ran a series of workshops to test what works best at events aiming to build bridges (in the field of financial inclusion). They recommend: limited and curated content, emphasis, and no presentations. Makes sense. Meanwhile, the Berkman Centre dropped a series of four research briefs on moving research outputs into policy, with a surprising focus on privacy. This last one merits a much closer look, so will soon return in a blogpost.
- freedominfo.org published a collection of around 35 FOIA “success stories” from around the world, grouped into a handful of themes. It’s explicitly not a methodically rigorous collection, rather a “celebration with anecdotes.”
- To save their sinking city, Venetians are dressing like pirates and chasing cruise ships, while Bazil is setting up race boards to determine whether citizens qualify for affirmative action.
- A devil frog puked up this new ant species
- “broad regulatory simplification reform known as the ‘regulatory guillotine.’”- Found this open government commitment from the government of Armenia while perusing IRM data.