Someone has to do this:


Discourse analysis around Open Data in Cyprus / towards 'better' ontologies


Developed by Chrystalleni Loizidou & Demetris Themistokleous through a series of conversations between nee & wfdd, Neofytos Kolokotronis, Greg A.,  Klea, squeeks, Dimitris Mihail & Mantalena Tsoukka, misaakidis, Gregoris I., colak,

Genealogy: Openpatata, observatory, Someone Has To Do this, Bank of Commons


A presentation / observatory* / microhistory / series of local case studies / initial stage of development for a meta-app [APP0] on open data, data freedom, and local infopolitics



Intro / context

Infopolitics / Issues involved

Lit review


Ways through the material




  • Accountability

  • Independent Development



openpatata is an ambitious (more ambitious than I originally imagined it to be) open-parliament initiative. Its flagship of yore [currently unavailable] was an all-encompassing parliamentary monitoring website (think or that presented information on bills and regulations, Members of Parliament, and plenary agendas. I've managed to gather quite a bit of data which has yet to be put it to good use; that is to say, is not yet transformative or especially informative. I was overcome by the breadth of the work and resolved to developing smaller individual component(s).


neavouli is a crowd-sourced candidate database and accompanying view layer.  It went live about a month from the 2016 legislative election and has been co-developed by me and Neofytos.  (The original software is MySociety's yournextrepresentative.)  Contributors were a Green Party rep, several candidates, and private individuals.  The project raised questions of partiality as it relates to faithfulness of reproduction and the variation of the faithfulness of reproduction [1].



1: If we're to break a candidacy statement apart or condense it, or if we're to paraphrase it, if we're to purge it of its original tone and intent, are we doing a service or disservice to the public?  Are we removing or are we introducing bias in this way?  And if this process is performed inconsistently, would that perhaps favour one candidate over another?





A case study investigating how discourse around Open Data in the Republic of Cyprus is developing, as part of a broader critical discussion on openness.

We start with a case study on the Open Data Cyprus Crowdhackathon (10-11 September 2016;, 2016), which we identify as paradigmatic of crucial tensions with regard to the private use of open government data, when monetisation is not only presented as a priority, but as a necessity, or a default. The study feeds into debates around the battle between private interest (heavily lobbied for by  multinational companies) and national governments. In the case of Open Data, and this is where it becomes necessary to introduce exaggeration or an element of paranoia: we might think of the casting of governments as corrupt and incompetent information hoarders, insensitive to the common good. Our goal, in this case, is to encourage, if not necessitate, a critical perspective on Open Data discourse, more geared to not-for-profit applications, and ultimately in order to set-up public defenses against private interest.  


[OTHER APPROACHES: state apps, civic apps, non-for-profit apps, or even just not-for-profit]

A series of questions / frustrations / introductions to the debate



A contradiction: Open Data initiatives by closed structures?

The immediacy of this attempt to exploit / channel things towards private profit / shouldn’t be surprising: of course the initial tide will be controlled: first come first served. Those who are already awake to the opportunities and stand to profit will be the first ones there.



If information is power, then what does the EU-level cornering of the state to concede data mean?

- the state is coaxed / compelled to give up information by a coalition of EU & private interest

- the state is cast as a data-hoarder, inefficient collector, corrupt structure that refuses to make its workings transparent


What does this mean as part of the dessimation of the wellfare state?

Is there anything we should protect?


Is there any sense in talking about the co-option of the hackathon format [community] by business?


Visualisation / partiality & the question of bias




Local dimensions of the debate (?)

Adoption ('transposition') of EU directives: discourse around 'delays' and 'backwardness'.  Private meddling masked by cliché of inept government?

Excursions from European dogma - are there any?

Transparency discourse: the state cast as inefficient hoarder - perpetuation of a broader public stigma?

Arguments around vampirism: fear of criticism (or more specifically as it relates to the generation of outrage on the internet / the pace of consumption) cast as the reason for withholding information / debates not politicised (?)

Open data in the context of defunding public services and the government's evolving role as an overseer


Too easy for the private sector?

Share & share-alike, and the licensing of PSI not released as open data

This intends to

Express frustration / articulate a nEUROsis, frame questions / formulate a critique [around openness discourse], introduce vocabulary / politicise, contextualise towards accountability, include / identify exclusions, create commitments / collect a communinty, launche a project / a website / an observatory / a series of events.

Towards an art-exhibition of Open Data Apps & Visualisations

w/ thanks to


Glossary / Basic definitions


Open Data

Open Data is defined as stored data which could be made accessible in the public interest, and usually refer to Open Government Data, or Public Sector Information (PSI), although the term could also be used to inculde datasets from the private sector. Typically Open Data refers to statistics, geo data, maps, plans, environmental data and weather data in addition to materials of parliaments, ministries and authorities. Open Data features strongly in debates around transparency and access to information.


Issues of ownership and governance of Public Sector Information

"The governance and ownership of such datasets, has been under the scrutiny of civil society actors, including the business community, since at least the 1970s. The data that OGD advocates are interested in, and want opened for anybody to use, re-use and re-distribute, tends to be quantitative datasets (OKFN & Access-Info, 2010), examples of which include geospatial, statistical, environmental, organisational, transport, spending, cultural, archival, and company data. Some of these already exist as datasets that can be re-used although possibly at a prohibitive cost e.g. mapping data, whilst some are data that have not previously been re-usable including some that have not yet been universally digitised. An example of this latter category is data on allotments, which are small plots of land for individual cultivation at low rent, which local authorities in the UK have a legal duty to maintain 'adequate provision' of relative to demand." (Bates, 2012)



Personal Information

Civic Apps

Common Good

Freedom of Information Act


What is accessible is usable


Re-use / Share and share-alike



The fear that the release of public sector information will give rise to unduly harsh personal attacks / damaging criticism by the public, of mistakes made by public servants. This is presented as a major concern of governmental departments that hesitate to release data. Here we find the term useful in another sense: in the way that private interest is pushing for the release of government data, towards immediate monetisation.