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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Open Data, New Perspective, a Whole Lotta Challenged Thinking

One of my big arguments is that confidence does not necessarily equate with competence, and that far too often it's ego, sales ability and aggressive positioning that determines positions, policy, etc. - not evidence.

As such, we often end up with lesser-than solutions, avoidable problems and conflict that impedes necessary progress.

Team Harper is an excellent case in point.  Harper is confident, short-sighted, ideological and belligerent to those who disagree with him.  His team acts in much the same way; countless public servants have found their meticulously crafted policy analysis shot down or re-written by political people who feel they know better.

Then there's the fact that in general, human beings aren't that hot understanding or managing complexity.  Especially when we focus on simple narratives and five-point plans, we ignore the broader picture.  As such we end up with wheelchair inaccessible public transit, legislation that can't fly because it breaks existing laws, Duffy scandals, the morass of the Middle East, etc.

On campaigns, there is a lot of emphasis put on the sign war.  The theory is that people with signs are more likely to vote for a candidate and, if a community is awash in signs, people are more likely to go with the flow on election time.

It's a decent theory, all things considered, but there is no statistical evidence to prove the sign war has any impact whatsoever.  As all the big players do the sign war, it's easy to equate lots of signs with political victory, but as Kinsella points out, there's lots of evidence to the contrary.

Thing is, no one wants to take the risk of saving countless dollars and person-hours by avoiding signs, in case they do make a difference.  It's the equivalent of an athlete wearing lucky socks to every game - you don't want to risk that they do help, right?  The immediate win matters more than a broader analysis of causation, etc.

Open Data and the aggregation of Open Data have the power change a lot of assumptions.  You'll have instinct, you'll have bluster, but then you'll have clear information that can paint simple pictures from complex data.  

We're going to find that much of what we've been investing time in has been a waste; many of the solutions we've invested in are incredibly inefficient, etc.  It's going to be very uncomfortable, with an unprecedented level of accountability becoming unavoidable and a real urge to point fingers.  

Thing is, it will increasingly be clear that we're all part of the same inefficient system; it's pretty hard to throw stones in a transparent society.

Politics, in particular, is going to have to change its MO.  A lot.

A sign of the times,

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