[open-science] Fwd: Open data, social and environmental good, and political will

Heather Morrison heatherm at eln.bc.ca
Tue Dec 13 19:25:41 UTC 2011

Open data, per se, has tremendous potential for benefits to society and the environment. I think that it is important to keep in mind that these benefits will only be realized through political will.

The UK has pulled funding for humanities and social sciences teaching, for example, and governments everywere are chopping their public services. With no social sciences, government agencies or staff dedicated to making a better social world, all the data that we can gather to help prevent and ameliorate homelessness has little potential for improving the situation.

It concerns me that last week the world's top leaders were at the Open Government conference in Brazil, skipping out of the Durban climate talks. Obama went to Open Government, while I understand that a video of a U.S. climate change denier representative went to Durban. Canada, I understand, was bullying smaller nations to pull out of Kyoto.

With political will and technological skill, including that opened up by opening up government data, I believe that we have a shot at stopping or at least limiting climate change. But without political will, this won't happen. In fact, with no political will, open data could end up just helping the polluters to find even more opportunities to do what they do. 


Heather Morrison, MLIS
Doctoral Candidate, Simon Fraser University School of Communication
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics

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