New Scholarship on Open Data, Citizen Engagement and Randomness

In this paper, Marcel Sangsari’s assesses the EU’s European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI), a tool that allows citizens to propose legislation and garners an official response from the European Commission once a proposal gains a total of 1 million signatures from supporters in at least 7 member states.

  • “Despite its early difficulties, the ECI also promises to embrace an era of transnational, e-democracy and, through the use [of] virtual social networks, there is an opportunity to develop more citizen participation in EU affairs.”
  • “The moral weight behind the voice of 1 million citizens would make such an initiative difficult for the EU to ignore.”

James H. Fowler and Nicholas A. Christakis’s “A random world is a fair world,” examines research demonstrating the unexpected prevalence of fairness rather than self-interest in human behavior.

  • “It may seem remarkable that randomness is what drives ‘fair’ behavior in this model, but it is consistent with what we know about other human behaviors that apparently defy rational explanation: uncertainty is key.”
  • “This is a nice turn of concept. Proximate selfish behavior can be bad for you, and under evolutionary pressure may not even survive because fairness maximizes individual fitness. It may not be fair to be selfish, but it is certainly selfish to be fair.”

In this paper, Anneke Zuiderwijk, Marijn Janssen, Sunil Choenni, Ronald Meijer and Roexsana Sheikh Alibaks attempt to move past blanket optimism to determine the “Socio-technical Impediments of Open Data.”

  • “Most impediments for the open data process concern the actual use of open data. The analysis shows that open data policies provide scant attention to the user perspective, whereas the user needs to generate value from the open data.”
  • “Based on a literature overview (37 documents), four workshops and six interviews, 118 socio-technical impediments for the use of open data were identified…The impediments that the open data process currently encounters were categorized in ten categories: 1) availability and access, 2) find ability, 3) usability, 4) understand ability, 5) quality, 6) linking and combining data, 7) comparability and compatibility, 8) metadata, 9) interaction with the data provider, and 10) opening and uploading.”

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