The Daily Shaping of State Transparency: Standards, Machine-Readability and the Configuration of Open Government Data Policies

  • Samuel Go√ęta
  • Tim Davies

Abstract

While many governments are now committed to release Open Government Data under non-proprietary
standardized formats, less attention has been given to the actual consequences of these standards
for knowledge workers. Unpacking the history of three open data standards (CSV, GTFS, IATI), this
paper shows what is actually happening when these standards are enacted in the work practices of
bureaucracies. It is built on participant-observer enquiry and interviews focussed on the back rooms of
open data, and looking specifi cally at the invisible work necessary to construct open datasets. It shows
that the adoption of open standards is increasingly becoming an indicator of the advancement of open
data programmes. Enacting open standards involves much more than simple technical operations, it
operates a quiet and localised transformation of bureaucracies, in which the decisions of data workers
have substantive consequences for how the open government data and transparency agendas are
performed.

Keywords: Open Government Data; Open Standards; Enactment; Infrastructure Studies; Data
Assemblages