LOOKING FOR MONTREAL DIGITAL CITIZENS: FOR WHO ARE OPEN DATA MADE?
Keywords:open data, publics, citizens, imaginary, Montreal
AbstractMunicipalities' development of open data portals is part of a political drive to bring citizens and local governments closer together. However, despite significant investments, these initiatives rarely find their audience, because they respond primarily to an imperative of openness that places them in a logic of supply rather than demand. Also because citizens have a minimal understanding of the concrete implications of open data. In this context, one can legitimately ask for _whom_ are these open data portals created. Using the City of Montreal (Quebec, Canada) as a case study, we provide a nuanced answer to this question. If the socio-technical device set up seems to meet the needs of an "imagined" public more technophile and entrepreneurial than most citizens are, this discrepancy is perceived and countered by many processes. Our longitudinal study over a decade allows us to detect a co-construction in tension of the web portal. On the one hand, we find preoccupations with municipal prerogatives, administrative routines, and open-data movement ideals - sometimes mixed with territorial branding strategies. On the other, we find attention to citizen appropriation, the search for a better understanding of empirical audiences and a willingness to design the portal for the nebulous public of "Montrealers". We base our analysis on a three-tiered data: the _imagined_ publics in municipal discourses, the publics _configured_ by the digital device, and the publics _constructed_ through the actions and strategies of the actors. We discuss findings on the portal’s evolution, and on the clash between imaginary worlds.
How to Cite
Coutant, A., Millerand, F., Delias, L., & Fortier, M.-S. (2023). LOOKING FOR MONTREAL DIGITAL CITIZENS: FOR WHO ARE OPEN DATA MADE?. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2022i0.12992