Civic Data Solidarity
One role of civil society organizations is to hold power accountable. The way to do so is to watch and communicate around the activities of powerful organizations, people, and the systems they run. Watching such activities results in generating data on the sources of issues. Increasingly, a new generation of civil society initiatives is generating data on issues from human rights violations to Internet governance, from labor crimes to environmental justice. However, although many of the issues are interrelated, the data generated by separate civil society organizations, civic data, are rarely used in relation to one another.
What are some types of interrelations between the issues of civil society? Can we use generic values such as location and time, or more specifically the names of perpetrators or even policy articles as bridges between issues? For example, how might we connect the dots between the fracking companies poisoning clean water sources and the funders of the Dakota Access Pipeline? What types of relations exist between big telecommunication companies and the Federal Communications Commission board who recently repealed Net Neutrality rules in the U.S.? How do militarization and immigration policies of countries influence one another? How to keep track of such critical relations as they change over time?
This project aims to build a protocol to make civic data interoperable across civil society projects and tools. By doing so, it will create new networks and contribute to solidarity among the civil society organizations.
The project will organize workshops with experts from civil society initiatives in order to facilitate discussions around the need to connect isolated civic data sets, the consideration of possible tradeoffs for data standardization between different civil society groups, and the creative and critical use of data connections for civic causes. The project will also review existing solutions and distill the information into diagrams and data schemes in order to develop the first version of a protocol for civic data solidarity.
Data: Measurements, recordings, or observed facts generated about human or nonhuman activities.
Data subject: The ones or things that are being tracked.
Data generator: The ones who are doing the tracking.
Civic data: Data generated about civil society issues where the data subject is not citizens or consumers, but companies, governments, and systems.
Solidarity: A social principle that produces unities of interests, objectives, standards, and sympathies. Solidarity is maintained through the interdependence and interoperation of its constituents.
Communication Protocol: A system of rules that allow networked computers to transmit information among each other. The protocol defines the rules syntax, semantics and synchronization of communication and possible error recovery methods. 2
Protocol for civic data solidarity: A schema for structuring data about civil society issues in order to facilitate data interoperation among civil society projects and tools.
Who is the subject of civic data?
The subjects that are being tracked in civic data are companies, governments, and systems, not citizens or consumers.
Who is the generator of civic data?
Civic data is generated by civil society organizations or individuals who track civil society issues caused by companies, governments, and systems. Civic data is not generated by the governments or the corporations that are tracking data about citizen or consumer activities.
How civic data is generated?
Civic data is generated by making measurements or observations in the field, and combining records about companies, governments, and systems.
Does the political orientation of the data-generating organization matter?
Although multiple organizations work under the sign of "Climate Change", this does not mean that they share the same political commitments. However, political orientation is not as important as the directionality of data collection, that the subject being tracked should not be citizens or consumers, but companies, governments, systems.