I was invited to give a talk at a conference on the “Politics of Big Data” at King’s College London, which took place yesterday. I spoke about “Digital Transparency and the Politics of Open Data” and gave an overview of several ongoing research projects around these topics. The abstract for the talk was as follows, and the slides are included below.
In recent years the concept of open data has developed from being a niche idea at the margins of software development communities to playing a central role in global information policy. This paper draws on a combination of historical and empirical research to examine open data as a contested political concept that is continually reconfigured in response to shifting ideals, conceptions and practices of governance and democracy in different contexts. This includes work towards a “genealogy of open data”, as well as the findings from several research projects at the Digital Methods Initiative to map the politics of open data as an issue on digital media. It concludes with reflections on open data initiatives as sociotechnical assemblages and on emerging forms of intervention calling not just for the disclosure of information but for more fundamental changes in the composition of information infrastructures that organise collective life.