New surveys reveal dynamism, challenges of open data-driven businesses in developing countries

Open data for economic growth continues to create buzz in all circles.  We wrote about it ourselves on this blog site earlier in the year.  You can barely utter the phrase without somebody mentioning the McKinsey report and the $3 trillion open data market.  The Economist gave the subject credibility with its talk about a ‘new goldmine.’ Omidyar published a report a few months ago that made $13 trillion the new $3 trillion.  The wonderful folks at New York University’s GovLab launched the OpenData500 to much fanfare.  The World Bank Group got into the act with this study.  The Shakespeare report was among the first to bring attention to open data’s many possibilities. Furthermore, governments worldwide now routinely seem to insert economic growth in their policy recommendations about open data – and the list is long and growing.

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Geographic distribution of companies we surveyed. Here is the complete list.

We hope to publish a detailed report shortly but here meanwhile are a few of the regional findings in greater detail.

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How to Tell a Story with Data

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An excellent visualization, according to Edward Tufte, expresses “complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency.” I would add that an excellent visualization also tells a story through the graphical depiction of statistical information. As I discussed in an earlier post, visualization in its educational or confirmational role is really a dynamic form of persuasion. Few forms of communication are as persuasive as a compelling narrative. To this end, the visualization needs to tell a story to the audience. Storytelling helps the viewer gain insight from the data. (For a great example, how much do you think steroids have influenced baseball?) Read more

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9 Ethical Considerations in Participatory Digital Mapping with Communities

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The February 5 Technology Salon in New York City asked “What are the ethics in participatory digital mapping?” Judging by the packed Salon and long waiting list, many of us are struggling with these questions in our work.

Some of the key ethical points raised at the Salon related to the benefits of open data vs privacy and the desire to do no harm. Others were about whether digital maps are an effective tool in participatory community development or if they are mostly an innovation showcase for donors or a backdrop for individual egos to assert their ‘personal coolness’. The absence of research and ethics protocols for some of these new kinds of data gathering and sharing was also an issue of concern for participants. Read more

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A Computer Can Do Your International Development Job Thanks to Open Data

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At a recent Technology Salon on “How Can We Make Data Useful for Development,” one of the participants put forth an interesting question to the group:

Could computers make better international development decisions than humans?

Now at first, those present laughed off this question. It borders on fantasy to think a computer could take in the many social and cultural histories, divine the subtleties of donors and the parliaments behind them, and introduce innovations that have long-term impact on notoriously unpredictable humans. Or that’s what we thought until someone brought up the impact of computer algorithms on stock market activity. Read more

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4 answers: What will the world look like when people record every second of their lives?

Working on several industry-changing client projects, diving into new trend studies every week and following many twitter streams every day I also try to live 5 years ahead. I believe that’s important, both for myself and our clients. Recently I backed The Memoto Lifelogging Camera on Kickstarter – a small camera that takes a picture every 30 seconds and stores it in the cloud. I’m proud to be part of the first 1000 followers and I’m excited for my February product-arrival. Read more

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