Lack of public interest

(this page is part of my 2011 report on “Open Data: Emerging trends, issues and best practices”. Please follow that link to reach the Introduction and Table of Content, but don’t forget to also check the notes for readers! of the initial report of the same project, “Open Data, Open Society”)

After the October 2010 Government Open Source Conference in Portland, John Moore reported the surprise, among participants, that people were not demanding more open data, that the push had not yet come from public. If Open Data is about enpowerment, transparency and saving public money, why aren’t more common citizens already very excited about Open Data? Part of the answer is the already mentioned cynism and lack of trust in institutions and in the possibility for individuals to participate effectively to politics and administration. Too many citizens still don’t feel that it is their right to seek public information from their representatives and administrators, or that doing so will make any practical difference.

Another part of the problem is poor marketing from data activists and Public Administrations, that should start to act more like product developers, that is measure the outcome of their activity in terms of what has more appeal for the general public. One way to achieve this, especially at the local level, may be to highlight (only) the concrete cost savings and local jobs directly created by the availability of Open Data. Of course, this isn’t always possible.