Initial efforts on the data standard were good but the limitations became clear when the system was put to the test
Entries were floating around everywhere and could be lost, and the tags system lead to important contexts being lost or drowned out; it wasn’t clear what should and shouldn’t be a tag
A good step forward would be to model commitments in data and then tie these commitments to actions. An action may be working towards a number of commitments, so this preserves this flexibility but draws it in a bit tighter to think about the work that’s going on.
Transparency as Infrastructure: Who should be publishing this open data?
implications for what level the technology sits at – should we be just getting Patchwork to send us their spreadsheet and it does the hard work?
Dow et al “Middle Out”
this requires less onus on the charities
funders already dictate the formats that charities work in, why not just make that happen to be open
Funders already publish grants data (360Giving). Why not their impact?
Might be effective for future design work to target the funders as publishers
We can’t design away their wealth: Reflections on the Digital Civics programme
Introduce original framing of digital civics re the “relational” model of services
this design work is definitely valuable but the performance of the programme also had embedded values
Takes austerity for granted as the state of play
some of the engagements framed as digital civics don’t even acknowledge privatisation of public services (ie the parks and park learn)
design work here therefore adds a veneer to neoliberalism (“silicon valley localism” might be a good term here)
my work even plays to this tune; heralding open data as producing this dialectic form of transparency and laying the groundwork for a “relational” model of transparency.
when actually the problem is that charities are being increasingly marketised and forcibily reformed into “social enterprise” which is capital’s appropriation of charitable work.
where social enterprises operate for “public good”; why is the state not doing that?
Where is the citizen’s “relationship” with a state that is increasingly absent?
Relational models as originally presented in Digital Civics ultimately dress up austerity as “making the best use of resources”, ignoring the fact that service provision (especially local infrastructure) is a relationship between the state and its citizens.
Some of digital civics work has been emblematic of that; small engagements in interesting and valuable spaces that are crying out for resources. This entices them into participating in our research and allows us to “configure” that participation to our advantage without actually seeking affecting change. There are notable exceptions to this (Strohmayer + NUM, Bellini + perpetrators, Meissner + collaborators, ) which demonstrate the power of those with resources (academics,researchers) extending these resources to those without (their collaborators).
The power of design research here is not in results of design work, although the value of that should not be disavowed, but in the performance of genuine engagement.
My contemporaries I’ve named do not (yet) appear to explicitly situate their work as struggle, but I contend that these engagements/collaborations are examples of Digitial Civics done right
Digital Civics as design work; without this act of struggle it is apologism for the values designed into our society.
We can do all of the design work in the world – we can release open data, produce boundary objects or digital toolkits, and work with charities but without a deeper engagement with the why we’re doing this – not just the lip service of designing in a previously unexplored space but why we’re being forced into a position where we have to do this – nothing will change.
At the end of the day Patchwork are still a charity ameliorating the neglect of Benwell, which contains people in genuine need. Those truly with the capital and resources are not interested. We can’t design away their wealth.