#OpenData: Open Discussion

Open Data is the way forward in aiming to alter the knowledge of modern society. It can help us attain knowledge of important public sectors such as Healthcare, Sports, and Politics. Through this research, value is created to form transparency, innovation, and measurement of policies. Already there have been some great examples of how Open Data has benefited our society, but is it benefiting everyone?

At Captain Dash, we try to look at things with a global perspective. Approach them with a pinch of salt, if you will. We love how Open Data can benefit various social groups, and how it can reveal data we may not have known before. Some great examples of this are the Finish 'Tax Tree', Britain's 'Where Does My Money Go?', Video Game developers Watchdog's We Are Data, and of course the current uprisings and political unrest in Egypt and Brasil has led many to dig deep into Open Data available to them.

If you are going to benefit from Open Data, it is important to quash some of the myths that surround it. Even it's title, "Open Data", it's a bit vague, no? Open to whom, exactly? It is can be assumed that for the Open Data to be available to the public only those who bare the skills to analyze a lot of unorganized data will comprehend and benefit from it.

One of the main myths surrounding Open Data is it's functionality for every constituent. This assumes that Open Data users have the resources, expertise, and capabilities to make use of this data. In other words, some data requires the use of statistical techniques, a deep understanding of underlying data, and an understanding of the types of (casual) relationships. Only persons having an understanding of statistical techniques and other knowledge needed for processing Open data are able to make sense out of the data and to understand the implications.

Another myth surrounding Open Data is how it will apparently result in an Open Government. Be it as it may, an Open Government would allow for transparency and engagement to allow effective oversight, in reality it may result in an information overload. Large differences will appear as obstacles to Open Data analysts and different conclusions may result from different individual analysis. If we are to have an Open Government,the public sector would want to undergo complete transformation. What's strange is that more information does not always translate as better, more democratic, or result in more rational decision making.

Finally, a major myth that surrounds Open Data is that all information should be publicized with no restrictions. Issues such as privacy legislation, limited publishing resources, the quality of information, and complexity of data structures can all have an affect on publicizing information without restrictions. The paradox is that regulation and policies can on the one hand enhance the publicizing of data, whereas on the other hand, policies and regulations inhibit data sharing. Also, data sets generate income for some public organizations. For example, in the Netherlands, some organizations' revenue models are based on the income generated by asking users for a fee for access.

What is your own take on Open Data? Are you benefiting from it or do you see it as only beneficial to a select group of people? Let us know via twitter (@captain_dash).

Yours Faithfully,

The Captain