Reflections on the Concept of Open Data
Scripted: A Journal of Law, Technology & Society (2015) 12:2 154-166.
13 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2017
Date Written: September 24, 2015
Though “open data” is much discussed as a practice, it is much less discussed as a concept. There is consensus that open data is an emerging global social movement — an Open Data Movement — that encourages a shift in behaviour about performing data-centric tasks, such as governing or researching, to make them more connected and collaborative and thereby improve transparency, accountability, research discovery, knowledge access and knowledge co-production. But just what do we mean by the qualifying word “open”? Open data is understood to mean data resources that are: (1) free for people to access; (2) free from most legal constraints on reuse; and (3) put into formats that maximise interoperability and linkage. This definition, however, fails to fully address all the conceptual and policy issues at play in the Open Data Movement. In this analysis piece, I offer some critical reflections on the Open Data Movement and unpack the meaning of “open” data so as to offer a richer understanding of the concept.
Keywords: open data, technology law, open science, big data
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