Fostering a Critical Development Perspective on Open Government Data – Brasilia Workshop Report

Around a month back I took part in a workshop in Brasilia organised by IDRC, the Web Foundation and the Berkman Centre  ahead of the Open Government Partnership meeting titled ‘Fostering a Critical Development Perspective on Open Government Data’.

It was a really productive day of discussions, exploring potential research issues, and research strategies to look at the potential impact of open government data policies and practices being adopted in developing country contexts.

The full workshop write-up has just been released (PDF) and we’ve put together a small tumblr blog to feature some related content and detail the ongoing process of taking forward ideas from the workshop into a full research framework and proposal for further collaborative research.

For me, the workshop was particularly valuable in highlighting:

  • The connections between contemporary OGD action, and previous work on using transparency as a tool of advocacy and policy in the environmental movement and Right to Information movements;
  • The connections (and distinctions) between ‘political’, ‘economic’ and ‘developmental’ impacts of open government data;
  • The need for any comprehensive analysis of OGD impacts to be able to start both from the ‘supply side’ of governments releasing data, and from the ‘demand side’ of citizens facing key challenges where getting access to data is adopted as one amongst a number of strategies to achieve change, or of companies seeking to innovate, and thus seeking access to data that can support them;
  • The need to develop a richer notion of ‘open governance data’ to inform research and avoid being artificially restricted to only studying those datasets specifically published as open data by governments;
  • The need to articulate how different theories of change for open data in development allow individuals to be ‘beneficiaries’, ‘partners’ or ‘leaders’ in the development process: treated as objects or subjects of development;
It also highlighted the complexity of the current OGD landscape, and the wide range of possible routes that might be taken to research open data impacts. I’ll be working over the coming months with the World Web Foundation and IDRC to develop some plans for the next steps of the research, and so any comments, feedback or reflections on the report very welcome indeed.

One Comment

  1. Beatrice Mugambe

    thanks for this write up, i will be glad to be part of on-going discussion on a possible research framework.

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Open Data in Developing Countries


The focus of my work is currently on the Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) project with the Web Foundation.

MSc – Open Data & Democracy