[open-government] Defining Open Government Data?
briangryth at gmail.com
Tue Oct 19 19:50:18 BST 2010
You have stumbled upon the key problem with a definition. It excludes by
its very definition. As defined by an English dictionary, definition means
"an exact statement or description of the nature, scope, or meaning of
something." (Oxford version, not the American for you snobs across the
pond). A definition is required to be exact or it starts to become
Here is my questions are we creating a definition or a framework?
All of the technical, legal, and social aspects seem to be operative. As
such we should leave those ideas in the operative clauses of the technical,
legal, or social frameworks that create open government data.
A definition should only be used in order to eliminate confusion or to help
the reader understand what you are talking about. (Or to #^$% another party
in a legal contract.) If you can explain something without creating a
definition that is best. (i.e. say it in plain English as we say in the
So if we go with a definition, as Jonathan, Ton, and Tom have started to
flush out, what are the essential elements? (Not how it is implemented).
I think I see these:
- license free or least restrictive license (attribution).
- accessible (without unreasonable burden or undue hardship)
- machine-readable and in it rawest form
- owned or in the position of a public entity such as a government,
government contractor, or political subdivision.
Once we have the elements, then we can help poeple understand what the
implementation looks like.
Of course, those are my thoughts. I could be wrong.
2010/10/19 Tim McNamara <paperless at timmcnamara.co.nz>
> On 20 October 2010 06:00, Jonathan Gray <jonathan.gray at okfn.org> wrote:
>> We'd like to start a process to encourage key stakeholders in the
>> (rapidly growing!) world of open government data to have some
>> consensus on what 'open government data' means.
> Hi Jonathan,
> Do you want to include what government means?
> For example, there are a large number of agencies operate that operate at
> considerable difference. State-owned businesses. privately funded
> infrastructure (+ schools, prisons, et cetera), private organisations that
> are contracted to provide service delivery? Speaking of New Zealand, while
> the Crown exists as a sole legal entity, there are many shades of grey in
> practice. For example, the Parliament's Office of the Clerk isn't subject to
> our Official Information Act 1982 (or FOI legislation).
> In the common law world, one possible test is whether an agency is subject
> to judicial review.
> One thing that I've noticed in many definitions (open access, open science)
> is an attempt at creating a threshold of openness. That is, either things
> are open or they are closed. One option for open government would be to
> create a spectrum to reflect the fact that there are multiple degrees of
> Finally, and from a more philosophical perspective, it's important that
> people agreeing to the definition of why open government is important. That
> will go some degree to allowing consensus about what a definition should be.
> open-government mailing list
> open-government at lists.okfn.org
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