by Mary Joyce
The transparency/open gov people talk about data a lot (video below is just one example). Partially as a result, they seem to have figured out some good methodologies for making data about diverse political phenomena comparable and useful. They realize that good policy decisions often require good data analysis.
Yet these data conversations aren’t happening in the digital activism space. As a result, we find ourselves in unwinnable arguments between optimists and pessimists (each armed with their own case studies) and practitioners focused on the next hot app.
If we really want to answer the fundamental questions about the value of digital activism, we need to stop theorizing and start developing open machine-readable data sets. Qualitative case studies are a good place to start, as they can be coded for quantitative analysis.
Debate and hype can’t move the field of digital activism forward, but data can. Let’s get serious about it.
Tim Berners-Lee compares link data to potato chips at the Gov 2.0 Expo last week