Reflecting on Tech for Transparency

Technology for Transparency is a Global Voices project to map and evaluate technology projects that promote transparency, accountability,and civic engagement around the world. Recently the project’s co-directors, Rebekah Heacock and Renata Avila, wrote a post about lessons learned from the 37 case studies they’vepublished so far. It’s a commentary not only on tech for transparency, but also on the study of digital activism.

Rebekah and Renata begin by categorizing the way that technology can be used for transparency. This meshes very well with our own efforts at MAP to create a typology for the cases in the Global Digital Activism Data Set. (Here’s a post with some of our early thinking on this issue.) Rebekah and Renata have identified two ways that tech helps transparency projects: data collection and data navigation/comprehension.

I agree with them, but I think that there are several more ways that tech can help transparency projects, especially when one thinks of tech not only as revealing and processing information, butas a tooltocampaign for accountability based on that revealed information.

Our current digital activism typology, still a work in progress, includes two types of functions: “information dynamics,” in whichcontent is the object of action and”group dynamics,” in whichpeople are the object of action.

  • Information Dynamics:record (collecting data), reveal, protect, co-create, process (navigating data), aggregate
  • GroupDynamics: recruitment, networking, mobilization

I think most of these would apply to tech for transparency cases specifically as well as digital activism cases generally.I look forward toreading their next batch of case studies and thankRebekah and Renatafor the contribution their work has made to the empirical study of digital activism.

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