One of the conversations that Dave Humphrey and I have been having over the past months is about how to understand open data, not only in a pragmatic sense, but also in a linguistic and conceptual sense. He sent me a paper a few weeks ago, and I responded to it, and we discussed it in person, and the further we got, the more I began to suspect that Dave is touching on some potentially important questions in this area. After all, if we are going to encourage those who control data to make it open, and if we are going to encourage those who have access to open data to use it practically in the kinds of ways that David Eaves has recently suggested, then we need to truly understand what these ideas imply.
The result of Dave’s work has just been posted as a separate essay on his blog, and I would recommend that people take the opportunity to read it closely, to reflect on it, and to respond to it. I am hopeful, and I know Dave is too, that this essay can be a place to begin thinking more seriously about the nature of the data systems that increasingly define the limits of economy, politics, and culture.