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6.1. Directions for further research

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This exploratory study has undertaken wide-reaching preliminary work exploring OGD use. The typologies it offers require further work to generate operational definitions for each, and to further test their adequacy on a larger sample of OGD use-cases. Whilst this study inevitably touched on OGD supply, further work looking directly at relationships between supply and use of OGD would be valuable. Two strategies are relevant for this wider work. Firstly, a Socio-Technical Interaction Networks approach (Meyer 2010) would build on identification of a possible OGD Computerization Movement (§4.1), and would support more comprehensive analysis of ideologies driving OGD use, and of how actors and technologies are interacting, whilst also drawing attention to the actors missing from, or peripheral to, networks around OGD. Secondly, work to explore downstream uses of OGD (e.g. use of interfaces built with OGD) would provide illumination beyond the direct OGD use explored in this study, allowing deeper evaluation of OGD value-chains. Understanding the full civic value-chain of OGD use is important to inform future investment decisions concerning OGD supply.

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6.2. Contributions and Conclusion

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This paper makes three contributions. Firstly, it outlines a model for thinking about different processes of OGD use, based on careful analysis of real-world use cases. Secondly, it sketches connections that can be drawn between OGD and models of democratic engagement and public sector reform. This lays the foundations for future studies, including those oriented towards normative assessment of the relationship between OGD and civic change. Thirdly, in focusing on OGD from the end-use perspective, rather than more common perspectives of data and tool providers, and in addressing the democratic and public service arguments for OGD distinct from economic benefit arguments, it contributes to a rebalancing of the OGD debate towards civic over technological or economic concerns. By way of conclusion concerning the implications of OGD use, it notes that whilst unambiguous (though not always realized) pathways for OGD to impact on reforming public services are apparent, the relationship between data and democracy, (democracy understood as something other than ‘personal democracy’) is harder to define, more equivocal, and worthy of much further theoretical and practical attention.