Tim Davies

Tim Davies

Tim Davies

What can I say by way of a Connected by Data ‘year note’?

As I reflect on 2023, the theme I keep coming back is that of connections.

A lot of our work is about human connections. Personally, I’ve had some great opportunities this year to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, at RightsCon, a workshop on the Global Data Barometer, at the OGP Summit, and the Berkman-Klein Center’s 25th Anniversary celebrations: catching up with the journeys that we’ve each been on, exploring interwoven threads of technology, development, law, justice and community. And through the convening of design labs, connected conversations and other events, I’ve had the chance to make many new connections (particularly into the deliberative practice field in the UK), and have greatly enjoyed seeing connections kindled between different participants that have sparked or renewed collaborations, conversations and activities.

It has also been a joy to see the connections forged by the 11 randomly selected citizens we brought together for the People’s Panel on AI. Connections to a new issues, connections to opportunities to influence, and connections to each other: watching in real-time a sense of collective voice emerging. And unlike many of the convening activities we have done, which have generally been about reaching out through existing networks, or moving one-hop further out in our networks: bringing together a group through sortition broke us away from the bubbles created by our existing networks.

Even though we work hard to widen engagement when we convene, we have a lot more to do. We have been rightly challenged a few times this year on whether we’ve had enough diversity in our convening, particularly by race and by sector. As I head into 2024 I’ll be thinking a lot about how to make connections beyond our direct networks, and outside of the connections that might come easily.

Just as AI Large Language Models based on the proximity connections between tokens of language in vast corpora of data ultimately tend towards reproducing content of the past, rather than creating the future, we need to continually work on bridging between different neighbourhoods of thought and action if we are to support progressive action.

And these thoughts might apply more directly to the governance of data too. If being ‘connected by data’ is to be something we have cause to value, then it should not be about constraining people through connections that tie them into what has been before, but should be about connections that open up, that enable, and that support ongoing personal and social change.

I look forward to new connections we might make in 2024!

Do you collect, use or share data?

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

 Read more

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

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

 Read more