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Whose Access to Information Is it Anyway?

Maya Brahmam's picture

The recent storm about the Facebook IPO and whether big investors got access to better analysis than individual investors made me think about the open agenda again: Whose access are we guaranteeing? If we say that data is open, do we have the moral obligation to help people navigate that information?

An article by Peter Whoriskey and David Hilzenrath in The Washington Post, Scrutiny Focused on Pre-IPO Hype, says of Facebook’s disclosure: "It was just the kind of information that could make you a million. But you couldn’t find it..." They went on to note, "A raft of complex regulations attempt to ensure that the information public companies give out to investors is not only true but is distributed in a way that does not favor big institutional investors over so-called retail investors…"

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Integrilicious
A Working Definition of "Open Government"

"I’ve been spending a non-trivial amount of time lately watching and pondering the explosive uptake of the term "open government." This probably isn't too surprising given Global Integrity’s involvement in the nascent Open Government Partnership (OGP). As excited as I've been to witness the growth of OGP, the continued progress of the open data movement, and the emerging norms around citizen participation in government internationally, I've also been worrying that the longer we allow "open government" to mean any and everything to anyone, the risk increases that the term melts into a hollow nothingness of rhetoric.

My most immediate concern, which I've been chronicling of late over on this Tumblr, has been the conflation of "open data" with "open government," an issue well-explored by Harlan Yu and David Robinson in this paper. I've also been publicly concerned about the apparent emphasis put on open data - seemingly at the expense of other open government-related priorities - by the current UK government, which is slated to take over the co-chairmanship of OGP shortly. (An excellent unpacking of those concerns can be found in this letter from leading UK NGOs to the government.)" READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Brookings
Communication Technologies: Five Myths and Five Lessons from History

“Mobile phones in the developing world have myriad uses: banking services, reminders for medicine regimens, e-governance, and more. This is a far cry from a generation ago when 99 percent of the people in low-income countries lacked POTS, or “plain old telephone service.”

Information and communications technologies are now indispensible for development, prioritized through varying levels of market-driven measures and participatory politics.  From international organizations to local administrations, the importance given to these technologies for development today is a counterpoint to the immediate post-colonial era when telephones were considered a luxury and nationalized radio broadcasting was used for bringing “modern” ideas to populations. Along with policy changes, the move toward market forms works to ensure that people have phones and access to communication infrastructures, in turn providing incentives for entrepreneurs and political brokers to develop applications for delivery of social services and provide alternatives to users who in an earlier era lacked even basic access to these technologies.”  READ MORE

Addressing the Digital Divide

Tanya Gupta's picture

Perhaps the biggest challenge to harnessing technology for economic development is addressing the digital divide.  How can we do so?  This is a big question and to answer it comprehensively by looking at all the work on this area is beyond the scope of this blog. However let’s look at a few obvious ways of overcoming the digital divide:

(1) Development projects that focus on, and are relevant to the poor.  The Monitoring of Integrated Farm Household Analysis Project (IFHAP) was conducted every five years from 1996 to 2007 in the thirty-three (33) major rice- producing provinces in the Philippines.  The study noted the potential of mobile phones as key tool for information dissemination in agriculture as they are widely owned. In 2007, 90% of the farm households surveyed owned at least one mobile phone.  I agree with the authors of this study that while policy, infrastructure, and digital divide do indeed aid in assessing readiness; a social dimension is also present, which we ignore at our own peril.

Quote of the Week: Shaw-Lan Wang

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“It’s not enjoyable to get information from the internet. A good book can touch your heart. But I have never had anything touch my heart on the internet.”

 

Shaw-Lan Wang, Publisher of United Daily News and Owner of Lanvin

Quoted in the Financial Times, February 18, 2012

Media (R)evolutions: Everyday Usage of Information Sources

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

The Internet: a powerful resource if you know how to use it

Mamata Pokharel's picture

We have all heard the buzz: How the Internet has changed the world; how social networks are allowing young people to voice their aspirations and organize to bring real changes on the ground; and how the developing world is awash in mobile phones and hyper-connected youngsters.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

International Development Research Centre
Local Governance and ICTs in Africa

"With governance high on the agenda in Africa, many governments are using information and communications technologies (ICTs) to develop ways in which they deliver services to citizens. E-governance has the potential to enable local governments to engage citizens in greater participation, leading to socioeconomic developments at local and national levels. But this potential remains largely unexploited and, until now, there has been a lack of evidence on information technology in local governance in Africa.

This book addresses that gap. It offers studies from nine African countries that explore how ICTs can transform service delivery, tax, financial management, land management, education, local economic development, citizen registration, and political inclusion." READ MORE

Quote of the Week: Thomas Friedman

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

"One wonders whether the Internet, blogging, Twitter, texting and microblogging ... have made participatory democracy and autocracy so participatory, and leaders so finely attuned to every nuance of public opinion, that they find it hard to make any big decision that requires sacrifice. They have too many voices in their heads other than their own."

 

Thomas L. Friedman

New York Times, November 15, 2011


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