MORAL ECONOMIES OF OPEN DATA PLATFORMS

  • Ryan Burns University Of Calgary, Canada
  • Preston Welker University Of Calgary, Canada
Keywords: open data, moral economy, political economy

Abstract

Municipal open data platforms are currently caught in a range of tensions. They rely on an unspecified subject to analyze the data, and yet are surrounded by discourses of "empowerment" and "transparency". They are often most beneficient when approached with data science skills, yet often entail unremunerated digital labor. And they are often engaged by organizations tacking "for Social Good" onto their mandate - the Canada-wide organization Data for Good being a key example. To date, STS research has generated important insights into the political economies of data and platforms that highlight the ways they produce, mediate, circulate, and accumulate surplus and exchange value. Less attention has been devoted to understanding the ways moral values and sentiments are deployed to attract the digital volunteered labor subtending municipal open data platform usage. Those who mobilize these moral economies are deeply situated within capitalist platform economies, and benefit from the free labor of those wishing to improve their communities. In this presentation, we argue that hackathons, datathons, and open data platforms are constituted through moral economies that are entangled within technoscientific capitalist accumulation practices and logics. These moral economies are key ways in which digital labor is procured, and represent a core component of what Boltanski and Chiapello call the "new spirit of capitalism". To substantiate our argument, we draw on an ongoing long-term ethnography into Calgary, Alberta's open data ecosystem. We conclude by politicizing the fissures of these moral economies, to identify the new political strategies that they necessitate.

Published
2020-10-05
How to Cite
Burns, R., & Welker, P. (2020). MORAL ECONOMIES OF OPEN DATA PLATFORMS. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2020. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2020i0.11186
Section
Papers B