Open Access and Open Data for the Information and Knowledge Economy

Posts Tagged ‘Open Data’

Recommended reading for anyone interested in looking at data in new and different ways

Posted by infokelele on May 30, 2013


Posted in Big Data, Open Data | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Is there Strength and Health in Open Data and should you care?

Posted by infokelele on May 22, 2013

Mankind’s path has invariably been shaped by lack of knowledge or more precisely, lack of access to it. Today however, there is an information surplus. Governments at various levels and organizations keep opening their data vaults; sometimes willingly but most of the time under pressure. Technological advancements aid this revolution. In the late 1980s, for instance, only 6% of the world’s data was digital. There was nothing much to share electronically and no widespread medium either for sharing it.

All this has changed in the last decade or so. Dizzying amounts of digital information clog our systems and electronic sharing has become almost like second nature. To engage, all you need is a connection and a medium; say a smartphone and you are all set. By some estimates, for instance, 35% of the world’s photos end up in Facebook and it only takes a healthy dose of some sense of ‘bragging rights’ to go on a visual online display of self and ‘exploits’. And there is yet another kicker! The awareness of human interconnectedness has shrunk considerably, so studies tell us. In the 60s, there was a whole 6 degrees of separation, for instance. Today it is only 4, i.e. a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of that friend.

This data avalanche and the connections that it makes possible are both forward looking and history primed. The future may not be adequately known but the past is well documented. Even the Internet, young as it is, already has an archive that includes millions of books, audio recordings as well as TV news programs all available at your fingertips.

Having access to all this data is great but on its own does not amount to anything. Far more important is how beneficial this access can be made! If the access does not enable gaining new insights into the world – how businesses can be created, enabled to compete more smartly and made more productive, how governments can serve their citizens better, how citizens can hold their governments accountable and how individuals can improve the quality of their lives, then of what use would this access be?

The good news is that the benefits are already being tapped. Big data has infact become more transformative than even the Internet. Data transparency for instance, amplified by Facebook and Twitter has led to earth shaking mass movements across the globe with unprecedented political consequences, for better or for worse.

However, these positive outcomes also come clothed with negative under currents. Where there is potential for personal empowerment and emancipation, for instance, threats to personal privacy remain ever present. So while easy access to the right data gives consumers a better chance of making better purchasing decisions and organizations and governments a chance to operate more efficiently, corporations and governments can also frighteningly know more about you far more that would rattle you, say where you live, go, how frequently, what you buy, what you say and to whom, what you feel and even believe. So even as governments and corporations open up data, data privacy and data protection concerns remain valid and ought to be addressed concurrently.

With all these said, it doesn’t seem that a forward looking world can afford to close its eyes to the ongoing data revolution or can it?

Posted in Big Data, Open Data | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

World Bank releases International Debt Statistics 2013 and it’s all Open

Posted by infokelele on January 7, 2013

Check it out at and see also a related blog at

Posted in Open Data | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

What’s next after overcoming the digital divide?

Posted by infokelele on December 1, 2012

Check this out.


Posted in Economic Development, International Development, Mobile phones, Open Data | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Developing economies to eclipse west by 2060, OECD forecasts

Posted by infokelele on November 15, 2012

That’s a bold statement!

But it is also the verdict of one of the latest OECD reports, Looking to 2060: A Global Vision of Long-Term Growth, most recently also referenced by the Guardian.

The underlying assumptions:

  • Unemployment in the west will go back to the numbers prior to the latest global financial crisis.
  • Productivity will grow faster in developing economies thanks in part to ICTs and its enabling openness that brings higher returns to scale and valuable innovations but market reforms including labor market reforms would be just as key determinants.
  • Significant improvements in education in the forecast high growth countries.

Growth data is provided at the macro-level; that in itself normally masks the actual extent of wellbeing but usually not bad as a starting point in understanding the best interventions to increase per capita income levels as well!

The book, The fastest billion – The Story Behind Africa’s Economic Revolution, places Africa in this growth trajectory with a caveat – an average of a 2 per cent annual growth rate would have to be maintained over the next three decades. The book dares suggest that the break out countries could have as strong economies as today’s strongest by 2048. Because of the tremendous diversity of the continent, the reader is advised to look at individual country analyses to get a better sense of specific high growth spots.

Five years ago, in their widely acclaimed publication, Sub-Saharan Africa: Key Issues to 2012, Oxford Analytica put a finger on these trends. They seem to have been spot on.

Technology is the main driver with Open Access and Open Data putting more countries at a more competitive advantage. The comparative advantages of the yester years just wont do. They remain important but their importance can’t nearly match the innovations of the Open Economies. These days for instance, when you want to know where mobile money is driving the fastest growth, you don’t look anywhere else other than Kenya’s M-Pesa for the best lessons. And we will not have heard the last of international companies scrambling for a piece of the action from the innovation labs of Nairobi. The interest is not limited to Nairobi. These days, it is an exception if a single week passes by without an Africa investors’ conference happening somewhere.

The trends are supported by the accompanying trends in ICT in Development rankings

The developments just go on to demonstrate how Economic Development can be barren without wider Political Emancipation. As Open Access and Open Data initiatives open up opportunities for wider more meaningful political participation, leadership accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs, countries that had been missing these ingredients will see even larger sustainable spurts in their economic growth than has been already projected!

Over to you, what do you think?

Posted in Economic Development, Open Access, Open Data, Technology | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

What the World Bank’s Open Access Policy Means for Development – Event & Live Webcast (Monday, May 21, 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM, Washington, DC time)

Posted by infokelele on May 19, 2012

The World Bank supports the free online communication and exchange of knowledge as the most effective way of ensuring that the fruits of research, economic and sector work, and development practice are made widely available, read, and built upon (World Bank Open Access Policy, 2012).

On Monday, May 21, from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM, Washington DC time, the Bank will host movers and shakers of what open access really means for development.

Join the live event at the links below:




Posted in Economic Development, Information Economy, Knowledge Economy, Open Access | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Open Data: How transparent are the kings’ garments?

Posted by infokelele on May 11, 2012

Big data can improve innovation, competition and productivity. This is true for both the public and private sectors but with a caveat – only if harnessed in the best possible ways.

Open Data (OD) is increasingly becoming part of big data. This post will focus on Open Data.

There are many sources and types of Open Data. Many are governmental but international organizations such as the World Bank are also major players.

Governments tend to be the ones most in the spotlight because after all, the democratically elected ones are supposed to be answerable to their citizenry. It is for this reason that many country’s constitutions begin with the declaration “We the people ……” But this notion is sometimes more an ideal than a reality.

If governments are such a major player in individuals’ lives, it should come as no surprise that citizens demand appropriate access to all the wealth of information and data that governments collect from them and store. As a matter of fact, governments should always be in the forefront of proactively providing access to these kinds of information and data.

Legitimate questions that emerge for governments to perform this role include whether the technical components of the data at their disposal encourage easy usage, wider sharing and reuse. This would enable the maximum number of people possible to gain productive access to this data. Along with this requirement goes the data quality because if it is not reputable then there is no credibility and if it is not credible then it is of no value. But before you even begin to talk about any of these, the data needs to have been digitized.

The source code is also just as important because if the data is not easily editable then it cannot be classified as open even if access is being granted readily and freely and legally. Proprietary data sources can also not be classified as open because re-use is severely limited. So standards specifications is obviously a big thing.

The legality of this data is also a major concern. Lest governments remain shrouded in a cloak of mystery because the legal provisions are inadequate to authorize wider sharing of data within their confines.

But let’s say the government has gotten right all the above factors, the journey would still not be complete unless there is an affordable and widely accessible communications platform. Pursuing policies that lead to wider adoption of broadband services and other technology products and services seem to be the answer. The mobile smart phone is already proving to be a great asset in this direction. Creative public private partnerships have been used with telecom service providers in some countries to make this a reality.

In many societies, there have been at least three forces pushing for open government data with varying degrees of success. Civil societies tend to do this through the way they know best – mass action advocacy but also through collaboration with governments. Internal champions within the public service have been the other change agents and in some instances, political leaders have provided the much needed putsch against institutional inertia. Political will remains a much needed asset.

These seem to have been the common thread within many governments that have already opened up their data to the public such Kenya and the United States.

Progress is being made but a lot is yet to be known about the economic, social and political impacts of opening up data to the public.

Posted in ICTs, Open Data | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Demystifying Open Access: Are we there yet?

Posted by infokelele on April 14, 2012

The Internet has facilitated many revolutionary changes. Without it, we would perhaps not be talking about Open Access (OA). At least not in the way that we currently do. In fact, there probably would be no Open Access.

But what is Open Access anyway?

Some see it as free online literature. This is partially right but not quite. Others understand it as self-published material posted online for free consumption but this is way off. Yet others view it as cheap philanthropic publishing. This only adds to the mystery. In fact, some have characterized Open Access work as amateurish portraying their publishers as scoundrels. Well, I guess it depends on motives.

Open Access continues to attract considerable global attention from scholars, knowledge workers and policy makers.  In my view, this intense attention is a pointer to the far-reaching implications Open Access has for the future of knowledge sharing, dissemination and use including in political emancipation and economic development. This is especially true in the current fast and furiously evolving globalization of the information and the knowledge economy. Yet the lack of understanding of what Open Access really is continues to confound. An explanation is in order to crack the code.

Simply put, Open Access is a mode of making peer-reviewed publications and data online so that anyone with Internet access can obtain them freely and also use them freely in accordance with these works’ licensing provisions. In addition, OA works undergo the usual rigorous editorial process similar to traditional publishing. Its quality should not be and cannot be in doubt!

Generally, authors can either publish in an Open Access journal or deposit a copy of their writing in an institutional Open Access repository. In some instances, only either one is used but on both fronts, the numbers are growing every year.  Authors typically also post copies of their works either on personal or employer departmental websites. An example of a list of Open Access journals can be found at . Lists of Open Access repositories are available at both and . A global repositories map is also available at . This map shows worldwide dispersion of registered repositories over the last 20 years.

Relevant policies drive Open Access implementation and growth. Open Access repositories for instance, have to adhere to international interoperability standards in order to make them searchable in the open Web. Moreover, explicit institutional policies increasingly require their author employees to retain copyrights to their own works while granting journal publishers a license to publish. This is considered best practice and is implemented through a customizable author addendum. Journals have corresponding policies that enable this process. An example of journal policies can be found at . Additionally, there is a growing trend by research funding agencies requiring Open Access compliance for publication of research that they fund.

A useful policy lesson emerging from pioneers in this area is that institutions are more likely to succeed in implementing Open Access if they make depositing of works mandatory and the depositing process as easy and painless as possible.

To find out more about Open Access and how it has evolved over time, check out these sites – , and .

Posted in Information Economy, Knowledge Economy, Open Access, Open Data, Open Knowledge | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

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