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[liberationtech] News Challenge: Open Data - Useful for People/Communities, Address Inequities, Protect Liberties - Due Sept 30

Steven Clift clift at
Wed Sep 9 11:08:19 PDT 2015

That's my own spin on the subject line.

It is interesting how the different partners display their emphasis.
It will be intriguing to see the mix in the end. Addressing inequities
with open data/open gov/civic tech needs more than lip service and
rarely gets significant investment when it runs into the meritocracy.


Open Data Entries:



Press Release:

>From the release:

“We live in an age where everyone has the potential to access and
explore large amounts of data. We hope the challenge will uncover
ideas that can turn this data into useful information, so people can
use it to make decisions about their lives and their communities,”
said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media

“Data can be used for countless productive and disruptive purposes.
How can data be used to combat discrimination and injustice? How can
marginalized communities gain control of data-related interventions
that affect them? We hope this challenge produces sharp ideas for
addressing inequities in society,” said danah boyd, founder of Data &

“This challenge offers an opportunity to dive into the difficult
questions inherent in our increasingly ‘quantified society’ – how to
build systems that allow us to benefit from an increasing amount of
information, while ensuring that we protect our civil liberties and do
not create new forms of discrimination. We look forward to seeing the
results,” said Janet Haven, associate director of the Open Society
Foundations’ Information Program.


I have two initial ideas:

1. Democratic Data Deficit - If we really care about empowering people
to make decisions in their community and democracy, we need to
fundamentally address the complete lack of structured data about local
representatives and representative processes. From who represents me
_at the very local level_ to when is the next public meeting to
options to receive pro-active notification about an agenda item I care
about - you can't open data that doesn't exist in a structured form.
And you can't expect volunteers to crowd source or scrape and bake
this data on a sustained basis beyond the mega cities if that. So the
best way to collect and share open data on local democracy is to
_mandate_ its creation and share via the rule of law at the state
level. Then this data can be generated and shared (and involve the
Secretary of State's in most states to coordinate and make it happen).
If you want to help me explore this join our E-Democracy Projects list
- and/or drop me - clift at -
a note. My proposal will build from if
you want to read more (sample legislative proposals to turn some of
the 10 indicators into legal requirements combined with tech efforts
to show what you can do with what exists "democratic" data wise in
sadly the rare places where the such public meeting, etc. data is
accessible )

2. Your Next Representative - Let's give the News Challenge another
chance to see the fundamental importance and huuuuge opportunity to
create a global engine for helping voters find their candidates and
mix it up with them on social media. This has awesome transformative
potential:   - Join the Poplus
Full disclosure: Knight funded a small prototype grant - -  for Argentina and the
U.S.. In the U.S., DataMade in Chicago recently connected with to demonstrate the tool in a U.S. local election using
candidate social media data we've been crowd-sourcing on a volunteer
basis over the summer (in collaboration with Open Twin Cities a CfA
Brigade). One interesting use of social media data is the creation of
yet to be promoted Facebook Interest List on all the St. Paul
candidates Facebook Pages and crucially _public posts to their
Profiles_. Check it out:
(Imagine if every city had a place where you could watch the campaign
like this or post-election connect with your representatives like this
also not yet promoted Interest list for Minneapolis: )  More (work in progress,
*pre* using Your Next Rep  BTW, for
the developers out there:

Steven Clift

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