I just received this press release in my inbox on how the Government is planning to consult citizens on public transparency as part of its Open Public Services White Paper (or #opswp). There are three words that pop out: “public transparency”, “consult” and “citizens”. Let’s break them down…
Many people will wonder what public transparency means, but if you asked them today, they may think more about the #notw “hacking” scandal than open data. In fact, open data and hack days themselves might bring up new connotations!
But what the press release seems to be vague about is whether public transparency in this context only refers to opening data in a transparent way or whether it extends to transparency as a government behaviour. Look at this Wikipedia entry or even this post on what people think transparency should mean.
So should we consult citizens on the transparent behaviours public services should espouse and in which areas of life there is the greatest need for transparency, or should we focus on how we can be more open with the information that government holds?
People don’t arrive at the entry point to responding to consultations in the same way. The Pathways to Participation project demonstrates that an individual’s will or ability to respond to “participation triggers” is shaped by a variety of factors, some of which are easier to influence than others. If you look at those factors which are most difficult to influence, it would seem the transparency consultation has a massive mountain to climb
- Previous experience and perceptions
- Personality, interests, upbringing
But we do have some analysis of these in relation to open data thanks to Tim Davies’ research below.