“According to Socrates…” Using High School Philosophy to Create Better Open Data Policy

Remember those tedious high school philosophy classes? Trying to distinguish ‘a posteriori’ from ‘a priori’? Figuring out what actually is a deductive argument? What’s the deal with Kant? Those classes were hardly the highlight of the high school week for me. Hence, I left the philosophers where i thought they belonged; on dusty shelves.

But I have rediscovered philosophy in the most peculiar place: open data and policy.

To begin with, in the dawn of the 2010th, one of the things that drew me to open data was actually it’s philosophy. The concept of promoting transparency, accountability and value creation by making as much data as possible public. Simple, appealing and yet a little provocative.

Throughout our second Hackathon cycle — as the O4C-team in Karlstad ventured beyond the data-sets, API:s and metadata standards in the health care system — into the realms of policy; I found four lessons from my high school philosophy that helped me better understand and explain how to promote, and not to promote open data as a goal and tool for policy.