2020 Oct 1. Transcript of Audio Clip on DISAPPOINTING OUTCOMES OF OPEN DATA IN KENYA


Transcript of Audio Clip Recorded October 1, 2020

Angela Okune:

…In 10 years from now–that's 2030–what would you say would be a disappointing outcome of open data in Kenya?

Leonida Mutuku:

That's a tough question to answer. Let me think about it. I think for me, like there being open data, or there not being open data–because you know, those are two different outcomes of open data– so a disappointing outcome, if there is open data, I think it's goes back to that whole issue of abuse, like, is it being used to further entrench inequalities, or discrimination or whatever that is…the whole issue of privacy versus surveillance…definitely, yeah. Especially now that the government is like, turning into a surveillance state, open data is such a good way for them to monitor what everyone is up to. And that's why guys like, try to be anonymous on social media nowadays, just because everything you put up there can be used against you. So that is like, I think, for me a disappointing outcome when there is open data. On the other hand, of course, just the fact there not being open data, and then using that data to like, better document the needs of be it, if it's in public sector, the needs of citizens, or if it's what we've been talking about in the use of like in the building of AI is trying to ensure that there is fairness, there’s lack of bias, then you see that lack of open data is also a disappointing outcome. So I think the question–disappointing outcomes I think can show up in both ways. I don’t know how your conversion went?

Angela Okune:

Yeah, well, one of the things that I mentioned was that even if there is data, it's not being used in a lot of ways. And then Kim asked why isn't it being used? And I said, well, a lot of it is either incomplete or it's already like outdated or kind of stagnant. Basically, it was like, put up and then wasn't taken care of or maintained. And then I think Wambui and others chimed in and said that a disappointing outcome is if the data is just data, basically. And if it doesn't activate citizens, if it doesn't like become mobilized to bring about some sort of social change. To her that was seen as kind of disappointing, because I think the whole idea of putting data out there is not just to have it sit there. It’s to actually have it used in some way. So for her, I think she was saying that she would be disappointed also, if it's like, the calls are just to have data, but like, what do we do? Like how can we use the data to, to how do we analyze the data? And how do we turn it into kind of the next level of thinking and informing decisions or what have you, you know? Yeah. So then towards the end of the call, I mentioned, because Kim was like, oh, yeah. Well, I think that's, you know, part of the aim is to use this open data to have more engaged, activated citizens. And I was like, well, that was the narrative that was used especially around the narrative of “open data for good governance” and like all of this kind of “data for democracy” and “transparency” and “accountability.” And like, those are all the buzzwords that were used. But in a lot of ways, they were just used for funding, they were just used…But like, it kind of became misused, or like overused, or just like, yeah, in name only. And so Kim was calling that like a “double bind” because we were talking about Bateson’s concept of double binds. And basically, it's like the double bind is that they have become almost, like commercialized or like kind of like, used and mainstream, but then you actually still need active engaged citizenry. But now like, what do you call it? Because the words for that thing have become over-… like… they've become like donor funding words. you know, and so it's kind of lost its meaning in a sense. But it doesn't mean that we don't need that still.

Leonida Mutuku:

Yeah, I get you. And I still see like open data…When the notion was being put up, I think very early on, there was all these like call for portals, repositories and whatnot. And so then they were like, everyone had their own Open Data Initiative, then I feel like in the last 10 years, there's been this initiative to try and bring all the data together in a central repository. But then that becomes a bit inefficient, because then it limits access because fine, it's in this central repository, but who has access to it when it’s there. And then, given that everyone is increasingly getting their own technical capabilities, I see it now going back to being decentralized again. Like in the next 10 years, like, if you want to have an open data portal, you’ll just put it up or you’ll put out your own [inaudible] policy guideline to mandate you to do that. And so I think, here's where like, the issue of what's the ground source of data? Like what's like that truth data, in all these different repositories and portals being put out by all sorts of institutions or individuals. Like how do you know the veracity of that data? But that being said, you still want everyone to have the ability to open up the data they want, so that you can have as much representative data as possible. So, just generally the whole issue of openness, I think, if I understand what double binds are, there are so many ways that whole concept shows up.



Creative Commons Licence

Created Date

October 1, 2020 - 10:15am


Contributed date

October 24, 2022 - 2:10am

Critical Commentary

This is a transcript of an audio clip recorded during a Zoom call between the co-authors Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku which took place on October 1, 2020. As part of conceptualizing their paper, the co-authors were discussing what a disappointing outcome of open data in Kenya might look like in the future.

Find the audio clip associated with this transcript here.


This transcript is part of the source data for the article "Becoming an African Techpreneur: geopolitics of investments in “local” Kenyan entrepreneurship" by Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku, published in the journal Engaging Science, Technology, and Society.

Find the full associated data here.

Explore other data published as part of the STS Spaces and Places Thematic Collection

Group Audience


Cite as

Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku, 1 October 2020, "2020 Oct 1. Transcript of Audio Clip on DISAPPOINTING OUTCOMES OF OPEN DATA IN KENYA", contributed by Angela Okune and Leo Mutuku, Engaging Science, Technology, and Society (ESTS) Journal, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 5 January 2023, accessed 22 July 2024. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/2020-oct-1-transcript-audio-clip-disappointing-outcomes-open-data-kenya