Louise Mullagh

Is open enough? Towards empowering data practices.

This research explores (whether people may) ways in which people may become empowered through developing relationships with data, whether computational or analogue, and what might be learned and applied in both rural and urban environments.

Recent policy releases from the UK Government state that by opening data up people can become empowered, in particular DEFRA are keen to encourage more people in rural environments to engage with and employ open data for innovation. However, despite this push towards innovation and growth in rural areas, significant barriers the understanding and access to open data exist. Infrastructure and lack of skills and training are not tackled in the rhetoric of empowerment through open data, and furthermore the focus upon open data centres around the urban realm and the Internet of Things.

This study looks at remote environments in order to explore how inhabitants of these places currently engage with data, whether they are empowered, and if not how they may become more engaged and use open data to their advantage. Remote does not have to mean geographically remote, but for the purpose of this study Tiree, an island in the Inner Hebrides is employed as a case study.

Through exploration of how people who live on and visit Tiree, the aim of the research is to develop a framework or cartographic heuristic device, through which people might be able to harness data, whether analogue or digital, for empowerment.


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