Data and the Digital Self

Report by the ACS: “A series of essays by some of the leading minds on data sharing and privacy in Australia, this book takes a look at some of the critical data-related issues facing Australia today and tomorrow. It looks at digital identity and privacy in the 21st century; at privacy laws and what they need to look like to be effective in the era of big data; at how businesses and governments can work better to build trust in this new era; and at how we need to look beyond just privacy and personal information as we develop solutions over the coming decades…(More)”.

Developing new models for social transformation

Report by Sarah Pearson: We live in unprecedented times. A period where globalisation has supported relative peace and growing prosperity. Where technological innovation has transformed social connectivity, democratised access to information and power, and driven new industry and jobs. The current pandemic, geopolitical power struggles, and a widening disparity in the distribution of the benefits of technology, however, threatens this progression. Many people have been, and many more are being left behind, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic seriously affecting progress in areas such as gender equality. Innovation, from an operational, business model, technological and societal perspective, is poised and ripe to help. This research focused on how this innovation could be applied to philanthropies seeking to address social change, overcome disadvantage, and build Equality of Opportunity.

Opportunities abound: starting with how we lead and govern in Foundations so that we unleash creativity and opportunity, throughout the organisation and externally; how we become more open and access new impactful ideas we would not have dreamt of without looking more widely; how we fund differently in order to make the most of our corpus, apply a gender lens, provide more than financial resources,
and support long term impact through new funding models; how we manage programs with sufficient flexibility to allow for unforeseen impact and experimentation by those we support; with whom and how we partner to deliver greater systemic change, and how to engage in an inclusive ecosystem of impact; how we leverage data to understand the issues, provide an asset for innovation, and measure our impact; and crucially how we set up for a diverse, experimental, learning culture. And in all of this, how we connect to and empower those with lived expertise to build economic self-determination, and combine with other expertise to grow inclusive problem-solving communities…(More)”.

An infrastructure for building policy capability – lessons from practice

Paper by Sally Washington: “The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of good systems for policy and decision-making. An effective policy system depends on robust policy capability. This article articulates key dimensions of policy capability based on the practical experience of policy practitioners from a range of jurisdictions. It briefly draws on the literature on policy making and organizational capability before situating the key components of policy capability as mutually reinforcing parts of a policy capability infrastructure. These include “supply side” components of leadership, policy quality systems, people capability, and effective internal and external engagement, as well as the “demand side” component of the political administrative interface that shapes and is shaped by policy capability in the public service. This framing of policy capability as an infrastructure broadens the definition of policy capability from a narrow focus on people and skills to a systemic approach that includes the range of systems and processes that enable and support good government decision-making. The article argues that the policy capability infrastructure could serve as a useful and generic analytical framework for describing, assessing, and improving policy capability in teams, organizations, or across an entire public service. Policy leaders are invited to test the framework and share their insights and results, including with colleagues in academia. If it works in practice, it might also work in theory…(More)”.

Data for Social Good: Non-Profit Sector Data Projects

Open Access Book by Jane Farmer, Anthony McCosker, Kath Albury & Amir Aryani: “In February 2020, just pre-COVID, a group of managers from community organisations met with us researchers about data for social good. “We want to collaborate with data,” said one CEO. “We want to find the big community challenges, work together to fix them and monitor the change we make over ten years.” The managers created a small, pooled fund and, through the 2020–2021 COVID lockdowns, used Zoom to workshop. Together we identified organisations’ datasets, probed their strengths and weaknesses, and found ways to share and visualise data. There were early frustrations about what data was available, its ‘granularity’ and whether new insights about the community could be found, but about half-way through the project, there was a tipping point, and something changed. While still focused on discovery from visualisations comparing their data by suburb, the group started to talk about other benefits. Through drawing in staff from across their organisations, they saw how the work of departments could be integrated by using data, and they developed new confidence in using analytics techniques. Together, the organisations developed an understanding of each other’s missions and services, while developing new relationships, trust and awareness of the possibilities of collaborating to address community needs. Managers completed the pilot having codesigned an interactive Community Resilience Dashboard, which enabled them to visualise their own organisations’ data and open public data to reveal new landscapes about community financial wellbeing and social determinants of health. They agreed they also had so much more: a collective data-capable partnership, internally and across organisations, with new potential to achieve community social justice driven by data.

We use this story to signify how right now is a special—indeed critical—time for non-profit organisations and communities to build their capability to work with data. Certainly, in high-income countries, there is pressure on non-profits to operate like commercial businesses—prioritising efficiency and using data about their outputs and impacts to compete for funding. However, beyond the immediate operational horizon, non-profits can use data analytics techniques to drive community social justice and potentially impact on the institutional capability of the whole social welfare sector. Non-profits generate a lot of data but innovating with technology is not a traditional competence, and it demands infrastructure investment and specialist workforce. Given their meagre access to funding, this book examines how non-profits of different types and sizes can use data for social good and find a path to data capability. The aim is to inspire and give practical examples of how non-profits can make data useful. While there is an emerging range of novel data for social good cases around the world, the case studies featured in this book exemplify our research and developing thinking in experimental data projects with diverse non-profits that harnessed various types of data. We outline a way to gain data capability through collaborating internally across departments and with other external non-profits and skilled data analytics partners. We term this way of working collaborative data action…(More)”.

Mapping community resources for disaster preparedness: humanitarian data capability and automated futures

Report by Anthony McCosker et al: “This report details the rationale, background research and design for a platform to help local communities map resources for disaster preparedness. It sets out a first step in improving community data capability through resource mapping to enhance humanitarian action before disaster events occur.The project seeks to enable local community disaster preparedness and thus build community resilience by improving the quality of data about community strengths, resources and assets.

In this report, the authors define a gap in existing humanitarian mapping approaches and the uses of open, public and social media data in humanitarian contexts. The report surveys current knowledge and present a selection of case studies delivering data and humanitarian mapping in local communities.

Drawing on this knowledge and practice review and stakeholder workshops throughout 2021, the authors also define a method and toolkit for the effective use of community assets data…(More)”

Transforming public policy with engaged scholarship: better together

Blog by Alana Cattapan & Tobin LeBlanc Haley: “The expertise of people with lived experience is receiving increased attention within policy making arenas. Yet consultation processes have, for the most part, been led by public servants, with limited resources provided for supporting the community engagement vital to the inclusion of lived experience experts in policy making. What would policy decisions look like if the voices of the communities who live with the consequences of these decisions were prioritised not only in consultation processes, but in determining priorities and policy processes from the outset? This is one of the questions we explore in our recent article published in the special issue on Transformational Change in Public Policy.

As community-engaged policy researchers, along with Leah LevacLaura Pin, Ethel Tungohan and Sarah Marie Wiebe, our attention has been focused on how to engage meaningfully and work together with the communities impacted by our research, the very communities often systematically excluded from policy processes. Across our different research programmes, we work together with people experiencing precarious housing and homelessnessmigrant workersnorthern and Indigenous womenFirst Nations, and trans and gender diverse people. The lessons we have learned in our research with these communities are useful for our work and for these communities, as well as for policy makers and other actors wanting to engage meaningfully with community stakeholders.

Our new article, “Transforming Public Policy with Engaged Scholarship: Better Together,” describes these lessons, showing how engaged scholarship can inform the meaningful inclusion of people with lived expertise in public policy making. We draw on Marianne Beaulieu, Mylaine Breton and Astrid Brouselle’s work to focus on four principles of engaged scholarship. The principles we focus on include prioritising community needs, practicing reciprocity, recognising multiple ways of knowing, and crossing disciplinary and sectoral boundaries. Using five vignettes from our own research, we link these principles to our practice, highlighting how policy makers can do the same. In one vignette, co-author Sarah Marie Wiebe describes how her research with people in Aamjiwnaang in Canada was made possible through the sustained time and effort of relationship building and learning about the lived experiences of community members. As she explains in the article, this work included sensing the pollution in the surrounding atmosphere firsthand through participation in a “toxic tour” of the community’s location next to Canada’s Chemical Valley. In another vignette, co-author Ethel Tungohan details how migrant community leaders led a study looking at migrant workers’ housing precarity, enabling more responsive forms of engagement with municipal policy makers who tend to ignore migrant workers’ housing issues….(More)”.

The Infinite Playground: A Player’s Guide to Imagination

Book by Bernard De Koven: “Bernard De Koven (1941–2018) was a pioneering designer of games and theorist of fun. He studied games long before the field of game studies existed. For De Koven, games could not be reduced to artifacts and rules; they were about a sense of transcendent fun. This book, his last, is about the imagination: the imagination as a playground, a possibility space, and a gateway to wonder. The Infinite Playground extends a play-centered invitation to experience the power and delight unlocked by imagination. It offers a curriculum for playful learning.

De Koven guides the readers through a series of observations and techniques, interspersed with games. He begins with the fundamentals of play, and proceeds through the private imagination, the shared imagination, and imagining the world—observing, “the things we imagine can become the world.” Along the way, he reminisces about playing ping-pong with basketball great Bill Russell; begins the instructions for a game called Reception Line with “Mill around”; and introduces blathering games—BlatherGroup BlatherSinging Blather, and The Blather Chorale—that allow the player’s consciousness to meander freely.

Delivered during the last months of his life, The Infinite Playground has been painstakingly cowritten with Holly Gramazio, who worked together with coeditors Celia Pearce and Eric Zimmerman to complete the project as Bernie De Koven’s illness made it impossible for him to continue writing. Other prominent game scholars and designers influenced by De Koven, including Katie Salen Tekinbaş, Jesper Juul, Frank Lantz, and members of Bernie’s own family, contribute short interstitial essays…(More)”

Evidence decision-making tool for policymakers

Repository by The Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) (via APO): “…outlines tools for education policy-makers to assess their confidence in a certain policy, program or initiative, and decide on next steps.

The evidence decision-making tool assists you to:

  • assess how confident you are that a certain policy, program or other initiative is likely to be effective in your context
  • decide on next steps, including how to implement the initiative given your level of confidence, and how to collect more evidence to increase your confidence in its effectiveness

The evidence decision-making tool can be used by an individual or a group, for example, in a planning workshop. It’s designed to be flexible, so you can use it to consider a change to an existing initiative or the introduction of something new…(More)”.

Automating the Analysis of Online Deliberation? Comparing computational analyses of polarized discussions on climate change to established content analysis

Paper by Lisa Oswald: “High­-quality discussions can help people acquire an adequate understanding of issues and alleviate mechanisms of opinion polarization. However, the extent to which the quality of the online public discourse contributes is contested. Facing the importance and the sheer volume of online discussions, reliable computational approaches to assess the deliberative quality of online discussions at scale would open a new era of deliberation research. But is it possible to automate the assessment of deliberative quality? I compare structural features of discussion threads and sim­ple text­-based measures to established manual content analysis by applying all measures to online discussions on ‘Reddit’ that deal with the 2020 wildfires in Australia and California. I further com­ pare discussions between two ideologically opposite online communities, one featuring discussions in line with the scientific consensus and one featuring climate change skepticism. While no single computational measure can capture the multidimensional concept of deliberative quality, I find that (1) measures of structural complexity capture engagement and participation as preconditions for deliberation, (2) the length of comments is correlated with manual measures of argumentation, and (3) automated toxicity scores are correlated with manual measures of respect. While the presented computational approaches cannot replace in­depth content coding, the findings imply that selected automated measures can be useful, scalable additions to the measurement repertoire for specific dimensions of online deliberation. I discuss implications for communication research and platform regulation and suggest interdisciplinary research to synthesize past content coding efforts using machine learning….(More)”.

In potentially seismic shift, Government could release almost all advice to ministers

Article by Henry Cooke: (New Zealand) “The Government is considering proactively releasing almost all advice to ministers under a planned shakeup to transparency rules, which, if made, would amount to a seismic shift in the way the public sector communicates.

Open government advocates have cautiously welcomed the planned move, but say the devil will be in the detail – as the proactive release regime could end up defanging the Official Information Act (OIA).

The Public Service Commission is consulting with government departments and agencies on a proposal to release to the public all briefings and other advice given to ministers – unless there is a compelling reason not to, such as national security or breaching a commercial agreement, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.

Currently, the Government proactively releases all Cabinet papers within 30 working days of a decision being made, but it does not release the advice that underpins those decisions. The Cabinet papers can also be redacted entirely or in part if the Government believes there is a good reason to do so.

Some advice is proactively released by individual agencies but there is no uniform rule declaring it or any centralised depository. In practice, much of it is released after either the media or opposition requests a copy under the OIA.

The new regime would see all ministerial advice be released without waiting to be asked for it, although it is not clear on what timeframe.

Ministers would also have to proactively release the titles of their briefings on a regular basis, meaning any advice that was not released could be requested under the OIA.

The Public Service Commission – which oversees the sprawling public sector – is also exploring options for a single point of access for these documents, instead of it being spread over many different websites….(More)”.