Bloggers, transparency and our Catch-22

Posted: January 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Publications | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

This opinion (in Dutch) by Ernst-Jan Pfauth about how bloggers and other people online can help make the government more transparent is in line with most current thinking on open data. It is good that message is being spread wide and far by influential people in different spheres.

Some projects we have been involved on in the past (Vervuilingsalarm, Schoolvinder) are even name checked by Ernst-Jan which is very nice except for one thing: these are prototypes we slapped together some years ago, in less than a day with minimal support AND these are still the best examples we have in the Netherlands of proper open data projects? It’s a testament to Google App Engine that these are still running and it’s a testament to the climate towards these kind of projects in the Netherlands that they have found little to no backing.

We are running into this problem when we are promoting open data in the Netherlands. It’s difficult to find sustainable, complete, thriving examples of applications built on open data like there are ample of in the USA and in the UK. So they ask: “Do you have any good examples of apps that will convince us why we should open up the data?” “Well,” we reply, “obviously if you haven’t opened much up yet, there won’t be too many good Dutch examples yet. But look at these from abroad!”

It’s a rather annoying Catch-22 that is used to justify institutional inertia. So yes, the growing mindshare around the subject is good and it’s flattering that the stuff we built is being used as the leading examples, but we will have to do better still. Stay tuned. We’re setting a bunch of stuff in motion that will nudge the status quo forward by a fair amount.

2 Comments on “Bloggers, transparency and our Catch-22”

  1. 1 Age Mooij said at 18:21 on January 3rd, 2011:

    I’m sure you already know this but maybe you can point people at The Joy of Stats, the BBC documentary by statistics guru Hans Rosling. The whole last section is about open data and he uses the San Francisco crimespotting project as an example

    You can watch it on YouTube:

  2. 2 Week 199 at said at 19:53 on January 10th, 2011:

    […] Blogged about the catch-22 in Dutch open data: “Bloggers, transparency and our Catch-22” […]

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