Statfrica, Lies and Open Data, Big Data Principles and Data Assumptions #DataDigest
This week some paradoxes of big data and principles for Big Data Resilience projects are featured. StatAfrica is also launched and assumptions about data's prospects are reviewed. Difficulties underlying the use of open data are also surfaced.
Big Data Understood
In this irevolution blog post the authors offer the draft “Code of Conduct” that they use to guide their resilience projects that utilise Big Data and Advanced Computing. By volunteering their guidelines they hope for more sustainable and socially just solutions for those undertaking such projects. The guidelines ask that data analytics and manipulation tools be open source wherever possible, that data architecture be transparent, and emphasise encouragement of widespread data literacy and skills. Local data ownership, ethical data sharing and the right not to be sensed are also other guidelines.
This paper deconstructs 3 identified paradoxes of big data recognising that potential pitfalls often go undiscussed even though they should be understood in parallel. The first “Transparency Paradox” illustrates that while private information is collected big data operations are undertaken secretly. Second, The “Identity Paradox” ignores the fact that big data identifies at the expense of individual and collective identity. Third, the “Power Paradox” refers to the often cited power of big data to transform society, without highlighting that it also gives privileges to large government and corporate entities at the expense of ordinary individuals.
In this Harvard Business Review post Sunand Menon challenges assumptions that having a lot of data automatically leads to economic success. He says that an organisation should take the effort required to truly understand the value of their data in order to meet usage and revenue expectations. He outlines four steps that an organisation can take in to achieve this. These include: Clarify whether it’s really your data; Understand who would value it, why, and how much; Frame up realistic aspirations for monetization and Test, learn, and tweak your offering.
Open Data Initiatives
In this post Apps4Africa, a for-profit organisation that also supports social impact initiatives make known the open availability of data they have collected about Africa via Statfrica. They hope that by doing so so other companies, NGOs, schools and social entrepreneurs can use it for social benefit.
Open Data Understood
While more governments have been making data open, David Eaves emphasises that open data will simply force citizens, and governments, to realize how politicized data is. He says that as accessibility to data becomes less politicized, how governments collect data will become more politicised. He cites disputes over the use of U.S. census data as an example of things to come. He also notes the availability of open data does not mean that it will be used by governments and that ensuring the credibility and reliability of open data will grow in importance. In addition, he urges that more proactive steps be taken to ensure that government data serves citizens, not just special interests.