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Title: Addressing information asymmetry in the social contract : an archival-diplomatic approach to open government data curation
Author: Lowry, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 5553
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis shows that the concepts and practices developed in the field of record-keeping can be applied to the curation of open government data to strengthen the trustworthiness of that data. It begins by situating open government data in the context of the social contract, which operates through the exchange of information. The thesis develops the notions of the 'record-as-command' and 'data-as-command' to explain the dialogical but asymmetrical information relationship between the individual and the state, which is modelled as a principal-agent problem. Using concepts from information economics, the study argues that open government data is the latest monitoring mechanism in a long history of government secrecy and openness. This establishes the significance of the curation of open government data beyond technical questions. The thesis then considers how trustworthiness has figured in thinking about record-keeping, identifying three core record-keeping controls; 1) metadata used to document 2) custodianship in 3) auditable systems. To show how these three broad controls have been put into practice, the study examines two examples of record-keeping guidance, one for paper records and one for hybrid records, which demonstrates the application of the three core controls across time and media. The study then looks for the presence or absence of these controls in government datasets published in Kenya and Australia. These analyses trace the datasets back to their source(s), at each step looking for evidence of custodial and curatorial interventions documented in metadata managed in auditable systems. The study's contribution to open government data work is its demonstration of the value of record-keeping controls in the curation of data. Additionally, the study contributes new insights to information in the principal-agent problem of the social contract, contributes to archival theory and finds a need to foster critical data literacy in the body politic if open government data is to be read and used to correct information asymmetry.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available