Methods for Measuring Open Data

Back in 2014, the Web Foundation and the GovLab at NYU brought together open data assessment experts from Open Knowledge, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, and elsewhere to explore the development of common methods and frameworks for the study of open data. It resulted in a draft template or framework for measuring open data.

That’s Danny Lämmerhirt and Stefaan Verhulst on the OIDC blog, prepping for follow up work at the Madrid conference next month. I’m embarrassed to note that I didn’t know about that framework (troubling re pt 3 below), or the recommendations that followed in the International Open Data Conference roadmap of 2015: Continue reading “Methods for Measuring Open Data”

What I Learned about Digital Methods

I just attended the digital methods summer school, hosted by University of Amsterdam initiative of the same name. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but first had the opportunity as a phd candidate. It was worth the wait, and here’s a quick summary of what I learned about the methods, the tools, and the course.

The methods

“Digital methods” could mean a lot of different things, but there’s a lot at stake in the rhetoric. Digital humanities, data journalism, webometrics, virtual methods, data science, oh my. Cramming the internet into social science research makes for a complicated landscape, and there’s ontological and political work to be done in how academic schools and approaches distinguish themselves.

Digital methods stakes out its turf with a 2-part move: Continue reading “What I Learned about Digital Methods”

Against the civic tech sector

Stefaan G. Verhulst recently offered some suggestions on how to “build a civic tech field that can last and stand the test of time.” Stefaan is a smart guy, connected, well informed, and his suggestions make smart sense of a messy landscape. But they also accept a fundamental premise which tends to go unchecked in international discussions about civic tech.

His introduction:

…we are yet to witness a true tech-enabled transformation of how government works and how citizens engage with institutions and with each other to solve societal problems. In many ways, civic tech still operates under the radar screen and often lacks broad acceptance. So how do we accelerate and expand the civic tech sector? How can we build a civic tech field that can last and stand the test of time?

I think this represents a popular perspective, but would argue that there’s a hidden question begged. The need for a strong sector or community does not follow directly from widely recognized promise and lack of significant impact. I’m all for the exciting way in which civic tech can strengthen governance, civic engagement and quality of life, but would like to suggest that we might not need a civic tech sector for that at all, at least not in the sense of a scope of work defined by common interests. It might even be getting in the way. Continue reading “Against the civic tech sector”

RIO: new examples of open sharing research data

As a practical contribution to the scholarly discourse on new modes of communicating knowledge, Prof. Cameron Neylon, Centre for Culture and Technology, Curtin University, Australia, and collaborators are to publish a series of outputs and outcomes resulting from their ongoing data sharing pilot project in the open access journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO).

Starting with their Grant Proposal, submitted and accepted for funding by the CanadianInternational Development Research Centre (IDRC), over the course of sixteen months, ending in December 2016, they are to openly publish the project outputs starting with the grant proposal.

The project will collaborate with 8 volunteering IDRC grantees to develop Data Management Plans, and then support and track their development. The project expects to submit literature reviews, Data Management Plans, case studies and a final research article with RIO. These will report and reflect on the lessons they will have learnt concerning open data policies in the specific context of development research. Thus, the project is to provide advice on refining the open research data policy guidelines.

I only just saw this when the project published it’s research proposal (presumably the first of many coming releases of research materials this year). The project looks interesting enough, but I’m  mostly excited to see the norm of sharing raw research data, and to do so thoughtfully (#responsibledata issues duly noted). Continue reading “RIO: new examples of open sharing research data”