As I said in my post on Schooloscoped, data without narrative does not bring wisdom. internetartizans looks at this another way: data doesn’t change anything, tackling power distribution does:
I’m inspired by the idea that nuggets of opened data could seed guerilla public services, plugging gaps left by government, but i don’t see any of that in the data.gov.uk apps list. The reasons aren’t technical but psychosocial – the people and communities who could use this data to help tackle their own disadvantage and marginalisation don’t have the self-confident sense of entitlement that makes for successful civic hacktivism.
So why the big push behind open data and the lack of interest in enabling communities? i think the crude answer is ‘bread and circuses’. And anyway, opening up data is a technocrat friendly activity whereas empowering communities is messy and difficult. So we’ll continue to be told that we can improve public services and create future economic growth by linking data rather than tackling power.
They link to a very insightful thought from Adam Greenfield:
In my talks and writing, I frequently argue that â€œdataâ€ in and of itself is seductive, its dynamic visualization more so, and that we need to be very careful that we donâ€™t get drawn into real-world decisions based on such visualizations without due reflection.
So where does this leave us? Just here: data is a tool for journalism. It is a means to an end. It is not the end in itself. Journalists should use data for illustration and evidence; any journalist using data dishonestly or incompetently should be called on it. But the sweet spot is where honest data is combined with compelling storytelling. Taken together, those things can bring wisdom and change worlds. Taken separately, there’s always going to be a large constituency ignoring what is being said.