Tim Davies

Research Director

Tim has spent the last 20 years working at the intersection of technology, participation and governance as both a researcher and practitioner. From piloting digital tools bringing youth voice into local decisions, to developing data standards the enable community scrutiny of billions of dollars of public spending, or writing about the political dynamics of open data initiatives, his work has explored how shared social challenges need participatory, collaborative and collective responses.

Tim was lead for the World Wide Web Foundation’s Open Data in Developing Countries research network (2013 - 2015), and led development of the Open Data Barometer. He was co-editor of The State of Open Data: Histories and Horizons (2019), and founding director of the Global Data Barometer project. From 2015 - 2018 Tim was a co-founder and director of Open Data Services Co-operative, a worker owned team providing the technical backing to initiatives including 360Giving, the Open Contracting Data Standard and OpenOwnership.

Tim is a former fellow of the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, and a senior fellow of the Datasphere Initiative. He is a graduate of the Oxford Internet Institute (Social Science of the Internet), and Oriel College, Oxford (Politics, Philosophy and Economics).

He lives in the People’s Republic of Stroud where he is involved in various Green politics.

What could global deliberation on AI governance look like? And what can we learn from this for thinking about collective and participatory data governance?

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The GovLab and new non-profit The Datatank have launched a conversation about the job specification for a re-imagined data stewardship role. They argue that ‘Data Stewards’ are a much-needed role in both public and private organisations, operating to maximise re-use of data in the public interest, and are inviting feedback on a revised Data Steward job specification.

In this post I look at the feedback that a collective and participatory data governance frame might offer.

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On Monday 6th March, participants from 12 organisations working on issues related to poverty gathered for a workshop in London to dream, imagine and envision potential directions for an ‘insight infrastructure’ to support action on poverty, social and economic inequality.

This was the second workshop in an appreciative inquiry series. The first‘Discovery’ session is documented here.

In this post, we summarise some of the key themes explored in the workshop, and document the ideas and suggestions made that will feed into the next workshop, which will focus on the design of stakeholder engagement, and governance proposals for insight infrastructure.

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This week we had the first of our workshop sessions to explore the potential ecosystem around, and stakeholder engagement in, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) plans to develop an Insight Infrastructure on poverty in the UK.

Below I’ve written up an initial synthesis of the session.

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Over last three weeks at the end of July 2022 I was an observer of the NHS AI Lab Public Dialogue on data stewardship: a process involving around 50 members of the public meeting for 12 hours (across four sessions) to share their ‘thoughts, aspirations, hopes and concerns’ about how access to healthcare data for AI purposes should be managed. A report of the dialogue was published by the organisers (Open Data Institute, Imperial College Health Partners and Ipsos), and the NHS AI Lab (who co-funded the dialogue along with Sciencewise) intend to use the findings to inform the Terms of Reference for a research competition titled ‘Participatory Fund for Patient-Driven AI Ethics Research’.

This write-up contains my notes as an independent observer of the dialogue, and member of the project’s Stakeholder group.

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Beset by train strikes and snow, a small group of us gathered this week in London for a Connected Conversation session with Professor Shoshana Zuboff, author of the 2019 book ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’, and a new paper titled ‘Surveillance Capitalism or Democracy? The Death Match of Institutional Orders and the Politics of Knowledge in Our Information Civilization’. Our discussion was framed by questions of strategy: what are the most promising avenues to encourage a rethinking of how data is governed, and how different strategies of organisations and movements fit together (or not)?

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We held the first in our Connected Conversations series earlier this month, bringing together a number of data governance thinkers, practitioners and campaigners from four continents to explore current contours of data and AI regulation around the world.

In our hour-long discussion we just scratched the surface of the different opportunities and challenges present when it comes to putting communities at the heart of data governance, and we’re confident that there is value in continuing and deepening the conversation, particularly with a focus on the narratives and agendas around data at play in the G7 and G20 over the coming years.

Put briefly, contributions pointed to both opportunities to innovate and build models of collective data governance within existing and nascent legal frameworks, and to the need to critically engage with advancing data policy agendas to make sure they don’t narrow, undermine or sideline the space for data governance that takes account of community impacts and democratic voice.

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This post was originally written to follow up a workshop of the Data Trusts Initiative, and is cross-posted from the Data Trusts Initiative blog.

How can the individuals and communities affected by decisions about data be more engaged in shaping and making those decisions?

New institutions of data governance, such as data co-operatives and data trusts provide an important framework for enabling data stewardship to be better aligned with community or public interest (by contrast, for example, to corporate structures oriented towards prioritising shareholder interests). However, even with trusts or co-ops, for interest alignment to actually take place, there is a need for ongoing and in-depth participatory practice.

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Weeknotes are a combination of updates and personal reflection written on a routine basis

Do you collect, use or share data?

We can help you build trust with your customers, clients or citizens

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Do you want data to be used in your community’s interests?

We can help you organise to ensure that data benefits your community

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