This week I’m going to publish a report I wrote on user engagement strategies for open data initiatives. Writing it made me realize how useful it’d be to have some relevant definitions on the internet somewhere so that I could link to them. To that end I started a working list of definitions for terms that I often use or refer to in my writing. I’ve pasted it below. It’s alphabetized and I’ve included links to sources whenever possible.
Accountability: The obligation of power-holders to account for or take responsibility for their actions. Power-holders refers to those who hold political, financial or other forms of power and include officials in government, private corporations, international financial institutions and civil society organizations (CSOs). (World Bank) Also see social accountability.
Anti-Corruption: Anything that addresses the problem of dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power. (Transparency International)
Big Data: Big data is the term increasingly used to describe the process of applying serious computing power—the latest in machine learning and artificial intelligence—to sets of information that are often (but don’t need to be) massive and complex. (Microsoft, or find 13 definitions of big data here)
Circumvention: The practice or concept of getting around obstacles to openness.
Citizen: A person who legally belongs to a country and has the rights and protection of that country. (Merriam Webster)
Civic: Of or relating to a citizen, a city, citizenship, or community affairs. (Merriam Webster)
Civic Application: A software product designed to address a problem of public concern. Civic applications give citizens opportunities to participate in processes that create social change. Here are some examples of civic applications focused on transit in US cities; these make commuting easier for citizens and give them the opportunity to monitor the quality of public infrastructure.
Civic Engagement: The participation of private actors in the public sphere, conducted through direct and indirect interactions of civil society organizations and citizens-at-large with government, multilateral institutions and business establishments to influence decision making or pursue common goals. (The World Bank)
Civic Hackathon: Activities wherein developers and designers create new technology products over the course of a 2 or 3 day period that are intended to address social problems. Technologists are usually matched with NGOS, public officials or researchers that have a strong grasp of these problems. Here’s a list of hackathons.
Civic Hacking: Deploying information technology tools to enrich civic life or to solve particular problems of a civic nature. (Transparency and Accountability Initiative Open Data Study)
Civic Innovation: A new idea, technology or methodology that challenges and improves upon existing processes and systems, thereby improving the lives of citizens or the function of the society that they live within. (Alex Howard)
Civil Society Organizations: Non-governmental and non-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others. These may include a wide of array of organizations: community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labor unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations. (Open Gov Guide & The World Bank)
Community of Practice (CoPs): Communities of Practice (CoP) are groups of people who, through a virtual or live platform, interact regularly over long periods of time on a common topic of shared interest with the goal of learning from one another. (The World Bank Institute)
Crowdfunding: The raising of monetary resources from individuals.
Crowdsourcing: The collection of data or information from individuals.
Data: Characters, numbers, or symbols collected together for computation, statistical analysis or reference; unrefined information. (Open Forum Foundation via Open Gov Guide)
Electoral: Relating to an organized and formal process of electing someone to a public office (Oxford American Dictionary)
Innovation: Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
Infomediary: Someone who can turn the raw materials of data into something useful to a broader base of people by disseminating it and contextualizing it. Generally live with or know well the groups of people whose lives would most benefit from a better governance/development project. (NB: need source on this)
Maptivism: The use of maps for social change.
Open Data: Geographic, budget, demographic, services, education and other data, publicly available in an open format on the web. Should be usable by anyone, machine readable, free or inexpensive and unencumbered by any restrictions on use. [McKinsey)
Open Government: Initiatives, programs or interventions that work for all or some subset of the following three things: 1) Information Transparency: that the public understands the workings of their government; 2) Public engagement: that the public can influence the workings of their government by engaging in governmental policy processes and service delivery programs; and 3) Accountability: that the public can hold the government to account for its policy and service delivery performance. (Nathaniel Heller)
Open Development: Making information and data about the activities of development institutions freely available and searchable, encouraging feedback, information-sharing, and accountability.
Participation: Participation is the process through which stakeholders influence and share control over priority setting, policy-making, resource allocations and access to public goods and services. (The World Bank)
Petty Corruption: The abuse of entrusted power for personal gain (usually by asking for bribes) by bureaucracy in sectors that provide basic public services or goods, such as access to hospitals, education, electricity and water. In other words, bribes for services. (Transparency International)
Policy: A high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures especially of a governmental body. (Merriem Webster)
Political Engagement: the relationship between politicians, elected officials and voters
Political Parties: An organization of people who share the same views about the way power should be used in a country or society (through government, policy-making, etc). (Collins)
Private Sector: The part of the economy that is not state controlled, and is run by individuals and companies for profit. The private sector encompasses all for-profit businesses that are not owned or operated by the government. (Investopedia)
Public Services: Services such as education, health, social security, crime, and public works like roads or parks which provide the most common interface between people and the state. Their functioning shapes people’s sense of trust in and expectations of government. At a national level, public services underpin human welfare and economic growth. (Source: Open Gov Guide)
Social accountability: The broad range of actions and mechanisms beyond voting that citizens can use to hold the state to account, as well as actions on the part of government, civil society, media and other societal actors that promote or facilitate these efforts. (The World Bank)
Social media: Forms of electronic communication (such as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. (Merriam Webster)
Transparency: When public officials, civil servants, managers and directors of companies and organizations and board trustees act visibly, predictably and understandably to promote participation and accountability. Achieving transparency doesn’t just mean that raw information is in the public domain but also that it is managed and published so that it is relevant, accessible, timely and accurate. (Transparency and Accountability Initiative)
Transparency and Accountability Initiatives (TAIs): Initiatives that attempt to improve standards of accountability and transparency either as ends in themselves or as a means towards democracy and development-oriented outcomes. (“The Impact and Effectiveness of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives: A review of the evidence to date Synthesis Report” by Rosemary McGee & John Gaventa)