Archive for November 26th, 2013

Government and Open Data   no comments

Posted at 11:49 pm in Uncategorized


According to Open Data Institute, it could be defined as follows:

 “Open data is information that is available for anyone to use, for any purpose, at no cost.” (3)

 It is also mentioned that in order to be cataloged as an open data, this must be explicitly stated in its license of use. A license means that the owner of the information declare what type of access or transfer is permitted to other to use the data meaning. When people create data and someone else wants or needs to use it, they must ask request owner´s permission. An example of data license (4) is when a person get a job and in your work contract it is stated that everything you create or generate related to your labor activity belongs to your employer. In contrast, if you create your own data, you can donate this creation stating that your data is for public use and anyone can use it. It is important to mention that every country has their own laws about copy rights and they need to checked before you decide what kind of license is more suitable for your data. For instance, in the European community there are two kind of legislation: Copyright and database right. Furthermore, there exist also is another license called “Open Licenses” that refers to your data with few restrictions about a person or organization can do with the content. An Open license allows other to “republish the content or data on their own website, derive new content or data from yours, make money by selling products that use your content or data, republish the content or data while charging a fee for access” (4) and in accordance with the Open Definition which defines openness in relation to data and content (5) “ “A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.” The next step is to indicate what kind of license is most appropriate to meet your purposes that you should show your data license in a human readable description and computer readable metadata. In regards to computer readable metadata it should under the in open standards figure that it refers to a format which is amply accepted across diverse third party, generating mainly interoperability among cross platforms, for example, RDF, XML, JSON.

 Defining your license is an important issue related to your data and purpose, as an individual or an organization. In both cases, there are implicit benefits publishing open data. For instance, there is a model of business in the data industry by which it makes profit from selling access to data. Open data tends to find potential customers by creating an economy with open data from a service model more than a product model generating more services related a specif subset of open data.

Open Data and Governments

 We could define a government system as

A group of people in charge who makes decisions about the direction and control of a community, or state and the main purpose of the government is to protect the individual rights for its members through specific laws that conduct a pleasant behavior in society.

Therefore, as an individual we should be concerned about the importance of open data and the role that it plays in relation to governance. Transparency and accountability is one of the main points in which are important for open data because in a democratic system, citizens needs to know what their government is doing, and leading the national resources. Furthermore, transparency promotes the improvement of public services because citizens can monitor impact indicators and government agency´s goals.

Some governments believe that transparency means simply publishing information about a specific data set, and for this reason they argue that they have an open data policy in their national agenda; however, in order to consider that a government is applying an open data policy, the information should be open and free to anyone to use, reuse and redistribute, and the internet is a perfect platform to disclosure it. In addition, the information should be preferably in a readable machine format such as: XLM, CSV, JSON or API because it creates more interoperability across platforms. Furthermore, transparency promotes public services improvement

Another reason why governments should encourage an open data policy is the fact that people become more informed and involved in important decisions the government should make. This means that open data promotes a dynamic society in which citizens are contributing in an active way. Furthermore, when governments open their data it encourages the creation of new business models and services because this generates clusters of suppliers offering new services.

To sum up, as a citizens we have the right to be informed from governments about they are using national resources, the impact of social policy and the effectiveness of governmental agencies and open data is a key tool that promotes transparency, accountability, new business models and people participation in government policy in an active way.


1.-Open Source Initiative [n.d.] Open Source Initiative [online]

Available from: [Accessed 05 November 2013]

2.-Bruce Perens (2005) The Emerging Economic Paradigm of Open Source [online] George Washington University. Available from: [Accessed 12 November 2013]

3.-Open Data Institute [n.d.] Open Data Institute Guides [online]

Available from:

4.- Open Data Institute [n.d.] Publisher Guide to Open Data Licensing [online]

Available from:

5.-Open Definition [n.d.] Open Definition [online]

Available from:

Written by Alan Ponce on November 26th, 2013

Online surveillance and how psychology is related to it   no comments

Posted at 11:52 am in Psychology

This week I will look at online surveillance and how psychology is related to it. Online surveillance has been a hot topic in the last couple of years.

During the Arab Spring, many Middle-Eastern governments have been accused of tracking down (potential) opponents and arresting them because of their online activity. Also, the revelations by Edward Snowden about the NSA have led to more attention to how the Web can be used as a tool of espionage. The rise in these kinds of activity show similarities with 1984, by George Orwell. This book describes a society wherein the government continuously watches and monitors its population. With the rise of the World Wide Web, people have put more and more information about themselves online. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly interesting for different (authoritarian) governments to ‘watch and monitor’ this information. Herewith, they can potentially control their country in an Orwellian way by arresting people who might potentially be a threat for them.

Of course, citizens are also becoming aware of the omnipresent online surveillance by governments. If they hear about people that have been arrested because of things they have posted on the Web, they might alter their (online) behaviour. From a psychological perspective, it is interesting to see how the mind and behaviour of people is changing because of this. Their response can be compared with psychological experiments, wherein the term social interference can be used to refer to such a response. This effect is a decline in performance when observers are present (Gray, 2007: p. 502). With an increasing notion of online surveillance, which might have consequences (i.e. physical punishment, imprisonment or worse) for a certain way of behaving, a citizen might become less (visibly) active online. This could be seen as a decline in performance.

This response can also be seen as the outcome of anxiety, which according to psychological terms can be seen as the mental situation when people worry excessively about a “stimulus or event that are vague, not identifiable, or in the future” (Gray, 2007: p. 590). When one does not know what future dangers may lie ahead, but expects consequences for certain actions, behaviour can change.

Social interference and anxiety are just two topics that can be used to look at online surveillance from a psychological perspective. Still, it offers many other perspectives to look at the subject. The approaches that I described earlier in a blogpost (biological, behaviourist, cognitive, psychodynamic, and humanistic) can for example all be used to look at online surveillance in a different way.

Next time, I will look at how online surveillance can be studied from the perspective of computer science. Also, I will look at how psychology and computer science can be combined to study online surveillance.


Gray, Peter. Psychology. Fifth Edition. New York: Worth Publishers, 2007.

Written by Gert Van Hardeveld on November 26th, 2013

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