[@OKau] Move from the mailing list to the new OK Forum?

Steven De Costa steven.decosta at linkdigital.com.au
Sun Jun 7 23:04:52 UTC 2015

Nice summary Rosie :)

The transfer of responsibility is pretty important for many open data
initiatives. In most cases now it is a creation of responsibility that
occurs as community activity steps in to do something Government might not
yet be doing, or is doing awkwardly. I mention this quite often, but this
is one of the reasons I'm always hunting for funding of OKAU. I believe
that as a group we could help channel some funding through to initiatives
so that responsibility can grow without financial constraints, at least
until initiatives are self supporting.

The development, technical and or middle class professionals often involved
in the current maturity of the open data movement are vitally important
right now. Their expertise and willingness to donate time and effort are
the engine that is keeping things moving. I know myself that even without
any societal benefits as a carrot I'd likely still be involved in this
stuff as it is cool stuff to work on. We shouldn't overly stress the under
representation of diversity within the movement without also applauding
those already here lending their weight. This is something I know Rosie is
keenly aware of, but her points are entirely valid and need to be made
often. They certainly help me to rethink some of the initiatives I'm
involved with and consider how they can be improved.

Talking about open data is like talking about free speech. There are
principles to be considered and a higher calling to always be mindful of.

The coolness, fun and exploration within the movement has pulled me in over
the last three years. The higher calling will likely lock me in for another
40 ;)

Thanks Rosie, you rock!


*EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR*www.linkdigital.com.au

On 8 June 2015 at 08:27, Rosie Williams <budgetaus at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Here's an overview of my point about the people currently involved in the
> 'open data community' and why it matters who is involved and who is being
> engaged. I'm not exactly talking about how we treat each other within the
> open data community... I'm talking about what open government means and who
> this meaning is significant to.
> My understanding of the point of open data (where politics & government is
> concerned) is to play a role in improving open government. My understanding
> of the point of open government is to strengthen democracy- a
> responsibility both of the government and of the people. My understanding
> of what strengthening democracy means is to more equitably distribute power
> and the responsibilities that go along with that to all citizens, to
> address existing inequalities experienced for example due to gender, race
>  and class or origin.
> Some of the most significant policy aims of the current government/s are
> aimed to do just this: inequality in Indigenous health & justice or
> inequality in educational outcomes (more broadly), for example.
> To bring about change to systemic inequality, something about the system
> itself must change. This is where open data and open government come into
> play. Opening government assumes a goal for the future that has as a
> founding objective to improve on the existing system & relationships in
> some way.
> Open data plays a role in this process of changing the relationship
> between citizens and government. The change in the relationship means a
> change in the balance of responsibility and power between citizens and
> their government, increasing engagement and responsibility of citizens
> while lessening the control and responsibility of solving society's problem
> taken by government.
> As responsibility & control is taken by citizens there will be less
> need/reason to blame the government for society's problems. If gov do not
> have the same level of control it can not be expected to bear the same
> burden of blame. Conversely as people are empowered to play a more active
> role in solving society's problems we will have to bear the responsibility
> that goes along with the solutions we choose. So there is this breakdown in
> the current scenario where the government controls everything and is
> responsible for solving all problems (and blamed), to a situation where as
> citizens play a greater role in solutions we must also bear the
> responsibility of that increased power. The us and them mentality will
> become passe.
> This change is not going to take place without the involvement of the
> citizens who are most in need of the change. It can't be carried out
> through a continuation of the silos that currently exist. You can't change
> something by keeping the relationships the same and society should not look
> the same at the end of what open government aims to achieve as it does at
> the beginning- otherwise what has really happened?
> This idea of relationships needing to change - (these are the basis of
> systemic patterns in society including inequality) is why I bring up the
> issue of the lack of engagement and participation of the general public in
> what I'm going to call the 'open data community'. In my opinion, the
> existing open data community does not seem to realise the role of the wider
> community in changing the power relationships that flow through the
> existing class stratification. When most of the events I see driven by the
> open data community seem to expect participants to be middle class
> professionals if not experts or at least technologists (and engagement is
> conceptualised as 'outreach' ie us/them), this does not strike me as a
> means to change the system, it is just a reiteration of the existing
> scenario.
> If we want our open data projects to have any impact on society then I
> think they need to be built through engagement with and by those seeking
> change. The developer community has it's activists and idealists, however
> in my opinion they rarely take the step of building their projects with the
> engagement of people they hope to empower (unless they are trying to
> empower middle class exclusively). I think this lessens the impact of open
> data projects and the effort to strengthen democracy.
> Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)
> ________________________________________
>  NoFibs.com.au <http://nofibs.com.au> - Open Data Reporter | InfoAus.net
> <http://infoaus.net> - Founder and Developer
> ------------------------------
> From: cobi.smith at unimelb.edu.au
> To: okfn-au at lists.okfn.org
> Date: Sat, 6 Jun 2015 04:25:52 +0000
> Subject: Re: [@OKau] Move from the mailing list to the new OK Forum?
>  Thanks for sharing this link Steven - I hadn't read it yet. I think it
> does articulate Rosie's concerns well, if I understand you right Rosie,
> which I may not :)
>  Maybe most people have perceptions of themselves - whether they see
> themselves as developers or advocates or otherwise - as 'caring' in ways
> that aren't noticed by others. I've been reflecting on reconciliation week
> and that article about hackerspaces I shared recently:
> https://www.academia.edu/12034526/The_Proper_Care_and_Feeding_of_Hackerspaces_Care_Ethics_and_Cultures_of_Making
>  Could tech development be a caring profession? Could codes of ethics for
> caring professions apply to developers? I unexpectedly came across this
> from searching about caring and coding:
> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447186/
> I replaced 'public health' with 'open knowledge' thinking about the
> principles to see how it would fit for the OK community. I think it's
> possible :)
>  I hope everyone has a great weekend.
>  Best wishes, Cobi
>  Ps. from the link Steven shared:
> Skeptics have coined the term “open-washing” as attempts for governments
> to be perceived as open, while keeping all important decisions and actions
> closed. And, alongside many others, we commonly complain that “openness”
> always seems to end at high-value datasets by which governments may feel
> threatened. And given our field’s focus on delivering services rather than
> engaging the user or tackling these larger problems, these criticisms have
> some merit.
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* okfn-au [okfn-au-bounces at lists.okfn.org] on behalf of Steven De
> Costa [steven.decosta at linkdigital.com.au]
> *Sent:* Friday, 5 June 2015 7:47 PM
> *To:* Open Knowledge discussion list for Australia.
> *Subject:* Re: [@OKau] Move from the mailing list to the new OK Forum?
>  I think this might help communicate Rosie's point:
> http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2015/06/03/we-should-demand-more-from-open-than-just-data-thoughts-on-the-international-open-data-conference/
>  Either way I think we are lucky to have a very grass roots group in OKAU
> right now. Plenty of room for everyone to contribute and do good work :)
> On Friday, June 5, 2015, Paul Walsh <paulywalsh at gmail.com> wrote:
> Back to Stephen Gates’ original suggestion:
>  The one take home I have from this thread is that an OKau forum would be
> able to:
>  1. Replace this mailing list, with a category that matches the general
> agenda of this mailing list (specialist/core whatever)
> 2. Provide a platform for our categories (lists) that are less
> specialised, and/or topical in nature. This could provide more friendly
> entry points for discussions that are less technological/domain-driven, and
> more topical: eg: immigration, domestic violence, government spend,
> education - whatever need arises based on the people who come and get
> involved.
>  Remember: Discourse, the software, provides full “mailing list”
> functionality, as well as the “forum” web interface.
>  I’m not sure if the OK international discourse instance is the best
> place for all that - maybe yes, maybe no.
>  If not, I’d be willing to set this up as an au-specific forum, if there
> is general agreement on the utility. I’m not sure if OKAU has servers, or
> if this is something we can ask from OKI. I can also follow that up if
> there is interest. While I could set it up, there would have to be some
> other backup from the community to maintain the server, if the need arises.
>  On 5 Jun 2015, at 10:31, Rosie Williams <budgetaus at hotmail.com
> <https://UrlBlockedError.aspx>> wrote:
>  Hi all
>  I agree that Paul didn't make the claim that I don't appreciate the
> humanity in developers, that was just my interpretation of his statement
> that my view of developers was 'flat'. This message has been trimmed so I
> can't easily check on his actual wording and that I have not again
> mis-stated his words but I don't want Paul or others to think I am happy to
> have them feel they have been mischaracterised by me here, at least not
> deliberately.
>  I agree that specifying/defining audiences matters which I feel was the
> point I was trying to make and with which it appeared to me Paul disagreed,
> quite vehemently. People here are welcome to disagree with me, I hope my
> opinions can stand up to scrutiny and if I am convinced otherwise then I
> can change my view.
>  While I'm at it I should also mention that when I critique the focus on
> developers in the open data community I do not mean to disregard our
> contribution. I did not make that clear earlier and I am aware that
> repeatedly restating my critique might cause people to feel the work of
> developers in open knowledge is not something I appreciate. This is not my
> intention and I ought to make that clear in future.
>  cheers,
> Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)
> ________________________________________
>  NoFibs.com.au <http://nofibs.com.au/> - Open Data Reporter | InfoAus.net
> <http://infoaus.net/> - Founder and Developer
>  ------------------------------
> From: paulywalsh at gmail.com <https://UrlBlockedError.aspx>
> Date: Fri, 5 Jun 2015 09:47:44 +0300
> To: okfn-au at lists.okfn.org <https://UrlBlockedError.aspx>
> Subject: Re: [@OKau] Move from the mailing list to the new OK Forum?
> Hi Rosie,
>  You are now saying things that I didn’t say, eg, that I claimed you
> don’t see humanity in developers, so, I’m not going to take the discussion
> further. The general gist of what I’m saying is: (1) there is no “general
> public”, and so any attempts at engagement need to be quite a lot more
> subtle in defining the audience to engage with, in my opinion, and (2)
> every field has specialists and non-specialists, technical or otherwise -
> nothing new to see here.
>  On 5 Jun 2015, at 09:27, Rosie Williams <budgetaus at hotmail.com
> <https://UrlBlockedError.aspx>> wrote:
> consider
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