Open Data Seminar

by Henry Farrell on July 17, 2012

For those who wanted a more print-friendly version of the open data seminar that we’ve been running, here’s a “PDF”: (bog-standard memoir class document I’m afraid – I don’t have John H.’s design skills). It’s available under a Creative Commons non-commercial license – those who want to do their own remixes may want the underlying LaTeX file, which is available “here”: Below, links to the various posts, in order of publication:

“Tom Slee”: draws connections between James Scott and the awkward relationship between open data and actual empowerment.

“Victoria Stodden”: suggests that people interested in the political aspects of open data should learn from the efforts of computational scientists to preserve the step-by-step process through which final results were produced.

“Steven Berlin Johnson”: argues that open data platforms can attract, empower and even create people interested in solving complex problems.

“Matthew Yglesias”: makes the case that open data is crucial to journalism, and that there is often a case for government to produce it.

“Clay Shirky”: argues that there are two different strands of open data advocacy, one devoted to improving services, the other to actually tackling corruption, and that the former works rather better than the latter.

“Aaron Swartz”: finds that open data and transparency don’t address _either_ structural problems of corruption, or help make life more efficient.

“Henry Farrell”: argues that open data will not change politics, but would have advantages under a different political configuration than the one we have.

“Beth Noveck”: sees open data as a foundation for complex democracy and a wellspring of innovation in government.

“Tom Lee”: worries that open data advocates tend towards a blithe over-optimism, but maintains that it still has democratic benefits.



Alex 07.17.12 at 5:29 pm

I haven’t had time to look at these in detail yet – but I don’t think .pdf is the best format. I used Readlist to make an .epub reading list suitable for kindle/ibooks/readmill or an epub download out of these articles – you can find it here:


Manta1976 07.17.12 at 5:58 pm

Is it possible to produce e-pub directly from Latex?


Substance McGravitas 07.17.12 at 6:03 pm

Yes of course. The amount of pain involved is variable.


straightwood 07.17.12 at 8:25 pm

The diversity of perspectives is confirmation of a missing intellectual focus. Charging off in all directions provides a hobby horse for everyone with little risk of collision or collaboration. Hey, presto! We are all now “Open Data” advocates, brothers and sisters in a splendid cause. After watching this process for a while, it becomes clear that this amorphous, directionless meme is what the players want. Open Data is as much a “movement” as tectonic plates. Enjoy the ride.


Wax Banks 07.19.12 at 2:04 am

Let’s not denigrate the memoir class as ‘bog-standard’ anything, now — it produces absolutely gorgeous documents with minimal work. Your pdf’s only real liability are the ass-ugly default TeX fonts and layout. Fire up xelatex, import a couple system fonts, and bask in the sunlit glory of mortal godhood. (I’ve replaced MS Word entirely w/xelatex+memoir+version control, except for when marking up student papers.)

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