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Do we trust the plane or the pilot? The problem with ‘trustworthy’ AI

- October 19, 2020 in Open Knowledge

On April 8th 2019, the High-Level Expert Group on AI, a committee set up by the European Commission, presented the Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. It defines trustworthy AI through three principles and seven key requirements. Such AI should be: lawful, ethical and robust, and take into account the following principles:
  • Human agency and oversight
  • Technical Robustness and safety
  • Privacy and data governance
  • Transparency
  • Diversity, non-discrimination and fairness
  • Societal and environmental well-being
  • Accountability
The concept has inspired other actors such as the Mozilla Foundation which has built on the concept and wrote a white paper clarifying its vision. Both the ethics guidelines and Mozilla’s white paper are valuable efforts in the fight for a better approach to what we at Open Knowledge call Public Impact Algorithms:
“Public Impact Algorithms are algorithms which are used in a context where they have the potential for causing harm to individuals or communities due to technical and/or non-technical issues in their implementation. Potential harmful outcomes include the reinforcement of systemic discrimination (such as structural racism or sexism), the introduction of bias at scale in public services or the infringement of fundamental rights (such as the right to dignity) »

The problem does not lie in the definition of trustworthiness: the ethical principles and key requirements are sound and comprehensive. Instead, it arises from the aggregation behind a single label of concepts whose implementation presents extremely different challenges. Going back to the seven principles outlined above, two dimensions are mixed in: the technical performance of the AI and the effectiveness of the oversight and accountability ecosystem which surrounds it. The principles fall overwhelmingly under the Oversight and Accountability category.
Technical performance Oversight and Accountability
Technical robustness and safety
Transparency
Human agency and oversight
Privacy and data governance
Transparency
Diversity, non-discrimination and fairness
Societal and environmental well-being
Accountability
Talking about ‘trustworthy AI’ emphasizes the tool while de-emphasizing the accountability ecosystem, which becomes a bullet point; all but ensuring that it will not be given the attention it deserves.

Building a trustworthy plane

The reason why no one uses the expression ’trustworthy’ plane(1) or car (2) is not because trust is not essential to the aviation or automotive industries. It’s because trust is not a useful concept for legislative or technical discussions. Instead, more operational terms such as safety, compliance or suitability are used. Trust exists in the discourse around these industries, but is instead placed in the ecosystem of practices, regulations and actors which drive the industry: for the civil aviation industry this includes the quality of pilot training, the oversight on airplane design, or the standard of safety written in the legislation (3). The concept of ‘trustworthy AI’ displaces the trust from the ecosystem to the tool. This has several potential consequences:
  • Trust could become embedded in the discourse and legislation on the issue, pushing to the side other concepts that are more operational (safety, privacy, explicability) or essential (power, agency(4)).
  • Trustworthy AI could become an all encompassing label —akin to an organic fruit label— which would legitimize AI-enabled tools, cutting off discussions about the suitability of the tool for specific contexts or questions about whether these tools should be deployed at all. Why do the hard work of building accountable processes when a label can be used as a shortcut?
  • Minorities and disenfranchised groups would again be left out of the conversation: the trust that a public official puts into an AI tool will be extended by default to their constituents.
This scenario can already be seen in the European Commission’s white paper on AI(5): their vision occults completely the idea that some AI applications may not be desirable; they outline an ecosystem made of labels, risk levels(6) and testing centers, which would presumably give a definitive assessment on AI tools before their deployment; they use the concept of ’trust’ as a tool for accelerating the development of AI rather than as a way to examine the technology on its merits. Trust as the oil in the AI industry’s engine.

We should not trust AI

Behind Open Knowledge’s Open AI and Algorithms programme is the core belief that we can’t and shouldn’t trust Public Impact Algorithms by default. Instead, we need to build an ecosystem of regulation, practices and actors in which we can place our trust. The principles behind this ecosystem will resonate with the definition given above of ’trustworthy’ AI: human agency and oversight, privacy, transparency, accountability… But while a team of computer science researchers may discover a breakthrough in explainable deep learning, the work needed to set up and maintain this ecosystem will not come through a breakthrough: it will be a years-long, multi-stakeholder driven and cross-sector effort that will face its share of opponents and headwinds. This work can not, and should not, simply be a bullet point under a meaningless label. Concretely, this ecosystem would emphasize:
  • Meaningful transparency: at the design level (explainable statistical model vs black box algorithms)(7), before deployment (clarifying goals, indicators, risks and remediations)(8) and during the tool’s lifecycle (open performance data, audit reports)
  • Mandatory auditing: although algorithms deployed in public services should be open source, Intellectual Property Laws dictate that some of them will not. The second best option should consequently be to mandate auditing by regulators (who would have access to source code) and external auditors using API designed to monitor key indicators (some of them mandated by law, others defined with stakeholders)(9).
  • Clear redress and accountability processes: multiple actors intervene between the design and the deployment of an AI-enabled tool. Who is accountable for what will have to be clarified.
  • Stakeholder engagement: algorithms used in public services should be proactively discussed with the people they will affect, and the possibility of not deploying the tool should be on the table
  • Privacy by design: the implementation of algorithms in the public sector often leads to more data centralisation and sharing, with little oversight or even impact assessment.
These and other aspects of this ecosystem will be refined and extended as the public debate continues. But we need to make sure that the ethical debates and the ecosystem issue are not sidelined by an all-encompassing label which will hide the complexity and nuance of the issue. An algorithm may well be trustworthy in a certain context (clean structured data, stable variables, competent administrators, suitable assumptions) while being harmful in others, however similar they might be.

(1) The aviation industry talks about ‘airworthiness’ which is technical jargon for safety and legal compliance https://www.easa.europa.eu/regulations#regulations-basic-regulation
(2) The automotive industry mainly talks about safety https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/automotive/legislation/motor-vehicles-trailers_en
(3) which is why federal aviation agencies (FAA) generally do not re-certify a plane validated by the USA’s FAA: they trust their oversight. The Boeing scandal led to a breach of trust and certification agencies around the world asked to re-certify the plane themselves. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_MAX_groundings
(4) I purposefully did not mention fairness here. See this paper discussing the problems with using fairness in the AI debate: https://www.cs.cornell.edu/~red/fairness_equality_power.pdf
(5) It was published on February 2020, which means that they already had access to the draft version of the Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI https://algorithmwatch.org/en/story/ai-white-paper/
(6) See also the report from Data Ethics Commission of the Government which defines 5 risk levels https://algorithmwatch.org/en/germanys-data-ethics-commission-releases-75-recommendations-with-eu-wide-application-in-mind/
(7) Too little scrutiny is put on the relative performance of black box algorithms vs explainable statistical models. This paper discusses this issue: https://hdsr.mitpress.mit.edu/pub/f9kuryi8/release/5
(8) As of October 2020, Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Helsinki (Finland) and Nantes (France) are the only governments having deployed algorithm registers. But in all cases, the algorithms were deployed before being publicized.
(9) oversight through investigation will still be needed. Algorithm Watch has several projects in that direction, including a report on Instagram. This kind of work relies on volunteers sharing data about their social media feeds. Mozilla is also involved in helping them structure this kind of ‘data donation’ project https://algorithmwatch.org/en/story/instagram-algorithm-nudity/

2018 Fellowship – Deadline Extension for Indonesia

- May 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

We have been made aware that a lot of the potential applicants in Indonesia weren’t aware of the Fellowship opportunity. Consequently we’re extending the application deadline for Indonesia only for one week, until Wednesday May 17th, GMT+0. Apply now As a reminder, the Fellowship in Indonesia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities and ideally experience with working with government systems or data. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences, experience with user design methodologies, experience with community development Don’t miss your chance and apply now! Flattr this!

2018 Fellowship – Deadline Extension for Indonesia

- May 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

We have been made aware that a lot of the potential applicants in Indonesia weren’t aware of the Fellowship opportunity. Consequently we’re extending the application deadline for Indonesia only for one week, until Wednesday May 17th, GMT+0. Apply now As a reminder, the Fellowship in Indonesia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities and ideally experience with working with government systems or data. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences, experience with user design methodologies, experience with community development Don’t miss your chance and apply now! Flattr this!

2018 Fellowship – Deadline Extension for Indonesia

- May 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

Note: the application window is now closed! We have been made aware that a lot of the potential applicants in Indonesia weren’t aware of the Fellowship opportunity. Consequently we’re extending the application deadline for Indonesia only for one week, until Wednesday May 17th, GMT+0. Apply now As a reminder, the Fellowship in Indonesia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities and ideally experience with working with government systems or data. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences, experience with user design methodologies, experience with community development Don’t miss your chance and apply now! Flattr this!

Apply Now! School of Data’s 2018 Fellowship Programme

- April 17, 2018 in data literacy, School of Data, School of Data Fellows, training

This blog has been reposted from the School of Data blog School of Data is inviting journalists, data scientists, civil society advocates and anyone interested in advancing data literacy to apply for its 2018 Fellowship Programme, which will run from May 2018 to January 2019. 8 positions are open, 1 in each of the following countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, The Philippines. The application deadline is set on Sunday, May 6th of 2018. If you would like to sponsor a fellowship, please get in touch with School of Data. Apply for the Fellowship Programme

The Fellowship

School of Data works to empower civil society organisations, journalists and citizens with the skills they need to use data effectively in their efforts to create more equitable and effective societies. Fellowships are nine-month placements with School of Data for data-literacy practitioners or enthusiasts. During this time, Fellows work alongside School of Data to build an individual programme that will make use of both the collective experience of School of Data’s network to help Fellows gain new skills, and the knowledge that Fellows bring along with them, be it about a topic, a community or specific data literacy challenges. Similarly to previous years, our aim with the Fellowship programme is to increase awareness of data literacy and build communities who together, can use data literacy skills to make the change they want to see in the world. The 2018 Fellowship will continue the work in the thematic approach pioneered by the 2016 class. As a result, we will be prioritising candidates who:
  • possess experience in, and enthusiasm for, a specific area of data literacy training
  • can demonstrate links with an organisation practising in this defined area and/or links with an established network operating in the field
We are looking for engaged individuals who already have in-depth knowledge of a given sector or specific skillsets that can be applied to this year’s focus topics.. This will help Fellows get off to a running start and achieve the most during their time with School of Data: nine months fly by! Read More about the Fellowship Programme

The areas of focus in 2018

We have partnered with Hivos and NRGI to work on the following themes: Procurement and data in the extractives industry (oil, mining, gas). These amazing partner organisations will provide Fellows with guidance, mentorship and expertise in their respective domains.

2018 Fellowship Positions

Bolivia The Fellowship in Bolivia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: Experience with and interest in community building, experience with the implementation of civic projects with a data or technical component, storytelling skills, and experience with promoting data or technical stories to a wide audience, basic understanding of the public procurement process Guatemala The Fellowship in Guatemala will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: Experience in the planning, coordination and implementation of projects with civil society organisations, the ability to advise and train organisations on working with data and delivering technical projects, basic understanding of the public procurement process Ghana The Fellowship in Ghana with be focused on extractives Data through the Media Development Programme at NRGI. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: an interest in supporting or working within the civil society sector, experience working with financial (or related) data for analysis experience as a trainer and/or community builder, interest and/or experience in the extractives sector, demonstrated skills as a data storyteller or journalist Malawi The Fellowship in Malawi will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with data collection projects, basic understanding of the public procurement process Indonesia The Fellowship in Indonesia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with working with government systems or data. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences, experience with user design methodologies, experience with community development The Philippines The Fellowship in The Philippines will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with user-centric research and design methodologies, experience with community-building activities, experience with data storytelling. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: graphic design skills, experience with delivering trainings Kenya The Fellowship in Kenya will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering data-driven projects, experience with user research and data storytelling, experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: interest in or experience with supporting civic projects and civil society organisations, experience with facilitating training activities. Tanzania The Fellowship in Tanzania will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience working with journalists or as a journalist, interest in or experience with supporting civic projects and civil society organisations, experience with writing pedagogical content

9 months to make an impact

The programme will run from May to January 2019, and entail up to 10 days a month of time. Fellows will receive a monthly stipend of $1,000 USD a month to cover for their work. What are you waiting for? Read more about School of Data’s Fellowship or Apply now

Key Information: Fellowship

  • Available positions: up to 8 fellows, 1 in each of the following countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, The Philippines
  • Application deadline: May 6th, 2018, midnight GMT+0
  • Duration: From May 14th, 2018 to January 31st, 2019
  • Level of activity: 10 days per month
  • Stipend: $1000 USD per month

Key links

About diversity and inclusivity

School of Data is committed to being inclusive in its recruitment practices. Inclusiveness means excluding no one because of race, age, religion, cultural appearance, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender. We proactively seek to recruit individuals who differ from one another in these characteristics, in the belief that diversity enriches all that we do.

Apply Now! School of Data’s 2018 Fellowship Programme

- April 16, 2018 in announcement, bolivia, fellowship, ghana, Guatemala, indonesia, kenya, Malawi, philippines, tanzania

School of Data is inviting journalists, data scientists, civil society advocates and anyone interested in advancing data literacy to apply for its 2018 Fellowship Programme, which will run from May 2018 to January 2019. 8 positions are open, 1 in each of the following countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, The Philippines. The application deadline is set on Sunday, May 6th of 2018. If you would like to sponsor a fellowship, please get in touch with School of Data at Apply for the Fellowship Programme

The Fellowship

Fellowships are nine-month placements with School of Data for data-literacy practitioners or enthusiasts. During this time, Fellows work alongside School of Data to build an individual programme that will make use of both the collective experience of School of Data’s network to help Fellows gain new skills, and the knowledge that Fellows bring along with them, be it about a topic, a community or specific data literacy challenges. Similarly to previous years, our aim with the Fellowship programme is to increase awareness of data literacy and build communities who together, can use data literacy skills to make the change they want to see in the world. The 2018 Fellowship will continue the work in the thematic approach pioneered by the 2016 class. As a result, we will be prioritising candidates who:
  • possess experience in, and enthusiasm for, a specific area of data literacy training

  • can demonstrate links with an organisation practising in this defined area and/or links with an established network operating in the field
We are looking for engaged individuals who already have in-depth knowledge of a given sector or specific skillsets that can be applied to this year’s focus topics.. This will help Fellows get off to a running start and achieve the most during their time with School of Data: nine months fly by! Read More about the Fellowship Programme

The areas of focus in 2018

We have partnered with Hivos and NRGI to work on the following themes: Procurement and data in the extractives industry (oil, mining, gas). These amazing partner organisations will provide Fellows with guidance, mentorship and expertise in their respective domains.

2018 Fellowship Positions

Bolivia The Fellowship in Bolivia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: Experience with and interest in community building, experience with the implementation of civic projects with a data or technical component, storytelling skills, and experience with promoting data or technical stories to a wide audience, basic understanding of the public procurement process Guatemala The Fellowship in Guatemala will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: Experience in the planning, coordination and implementation of projects with civil society organisations, the ability to advise and train organisations on working with data and delivering technical projects, basic understanding of the public procurement process Ghana The Fellowship in Ghana with be focused on extractives Data through the Media Development Programme at NRGI. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: an interest in supporting or working within the civil society sector, experience working with financial (or related) data for analysis experience as a trainer and/or community builder, interest and/or experience in the extractives sector, demonstrated skills as a data storyteller or journalist Malawi The Fellowship in Malawi will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with data collection projects, basic understanding of the public procurement process **Indonesia ** The Fellowship in Indonesia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with working with government systems or data. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences, experience with user design methodologies, experience with community development The Philippines The Fellowship in The Philippines will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with user-centric research and design methodologies, experience with community-building activities, experience with data storytelling. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: graphic design skills, experience with delivering trainings Kenya The Fellowship in Kenya will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering data-driven projects, experience with user research and data storytelling, experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: interest in or experience with supporting civic projects and civil society organisations, experience with facilitating training activities. Tanzania The Fellowship in Tanzania will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience working with journalists or as a journalist, interest in or experience with supporting civic projects and civil society organisations, experience with writing pedagogical content 9 months to make an impact The two programmes will run from May to Jan uary 2019, and entail up to 10 days a month of time. While Fellows will be focused on ironing their skills as data trainers and build a community around them, Experts will focus on supporting and training a civil society organisation or newsroom with a specific project. Fellows will receive a monthly stipend of $1,000 USD a month to cover for their work. In May, both Experts and Fellows will come together during an in-person Fellowship Induction Workshop to meet their peers, build and share their skills, and learn about the School of Data way of training people on data skills. What are you waiting for? Read more about School of Data’s Fellowship or Apply now Key Information: Fellowship
  • Available positions: up to 8 fellows, 1 in each of the following countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, The Philippines

  • Application deadline: May 6th, 2018, midnight GMT+0
  • Duration: From May 14th, 2018 to January 31st, 2019
  • Level of activity: 10 days per month
  • Stipend: $1000 USD per month
Key links About diversity and inclusivity School of Data is committed to being inclusive in its recruitment practices. Inclusiveness means excluding no one because of race, age, religion, cultural appearance, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender. We proactively seek to recruit individuals who differ from one another in these characteristics, in the belief that diversity enriches all that we do. Flattr this!

Apply Now! School of Data’s 2018 Fellowship Programme

- April 16, 2018 in announcement, bolivia, fellowship, ghana, Guatemala, indonesia, kenya, Malawi, philippines, tanzania

UPDATE: the application window has closed. Thanks for applying! School of Data is inviting journalists, data scientists, civil society advocates and anyone interested in advancing data literacy to apply for its 2018 Fellowship Programme, which will run from May 2018 to January 2019. 8 positions are open, 1 in each of the following countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, The Philippines. The application deadline is set on Sunday, May 6th of 2018. If you would like to sponsor a fellowship, please get in touch with School of Data.

The Fellowship

Fellowships are nine-month placements with School of Data for data-literacy practitioners or enthusiasts. During this time, Fellows work alongside School of Data to build an individual programme that will make use of both the collective experience of School of Data’s network to help Fellows gain new skills, and the knowledge that Fellows bring along with them, be it about a topic, a community or specific data literacy challenges. Similarly to previous years, our aim with the Fellowship programme is to increase awareness of data literacy and build communities who together, can use data literacy skills to make the change they want to see in the world. The 2018 Fellowship will continue the work in the thematic approach pioneered by the 2016 class. As a result, we will be prioritising candidates who:
  • possess experience in, and enthusiasm for, a specific area of data literacy training

  • can demonstrate links with an organisation practising in this defined area and/or links with an established network operating in the field
We are looking for engaged individuals who already have in-depth knowledge of a given sector or specific skillsets that can be applied to this year’s focus topics.. This will help Fellows get off to a running start and achieve the most during their time with School of Data: nine months fly by! Read More about the Fellowship Programme

The areas of focus in 2018

We have partnered with Hivos and NRGI to work on the following themes: Procurement and data in the extractives industry (oil, mining, gas). These amazing partner organisations will provide Fellows with guidance, mentorship and expertise in their respective domains.

2018 Fellowship Positions

Bolivia The Fellowship in Bolivia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: Experience with and interest in community building, experience with the implementation of civic projects with a data or technical component, storytelling skills, and experience with promoting data or technical stories to a wide audience, basic understanding of the public procurement process Guatemala The Fellowship in Guatemala will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: Experience in the planning, coordination and implementation of projects with civil society organisations, the ability to advise and train organisations on working with data and delivering technical projects, basic understanding of the public procurement process Ghana The Fellowship in Ghana with be focused on extractives Data through the Media Development Programme at NRGI. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: an interest in supporting or working within the civil society sector, experience working with financial (or related) data for analysis experience as a trainer and/or community builder, interest and/or experience in the extractives sector, demonstrated skills as a data storyteller or journalist Malawi The Fellowship in Malawi will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with data collection projects, basic understanding of the public procurement process Indonesia The Fellowship in Indonesia will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering technical and data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with working with government systems or data. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences, experience with user design methodologies, experience with community development The Philippines The Fellowship in The Philippines will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with user-centric research and design methodologies, experience with community-building activities, experience with data storytelling. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: graphic design skills, experience with delivering trainings Kenya The Fellowship in Kenya will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering data-driven projects, experience with user research and data storytelling, experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: interest in or experience with supporting civic projects and civil society organisations, experience with facilitating training activities. Tanzania The Fellowship in Tanzania will be focused on public procurement data through the Open Contracting Programme. For this position, School of Data is looking for someone with: experience with delivering data-driven projects, experience with facilitating training activities, experience with explaining complex topics to varied audiences. Candidates with the following optional interests and experience will be appreciated: experience working with journalists or as a journalist, interest in or experience with supporting civic projects and civil society organisations, experience with writing pedagogical content 9 months to make an impact The programme will run from May to January 2019, and entail up to 10 days a month of time. Fellows will receive a monthly stipend of $1,000 USD a month to cover for their work. What are you waiting for? Read more about School of Data’s Fellowship Key Information: Fellowship
  • Available positions: up to 8 fellows, 1 in each of the following countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, The Philippines

  • Application deadline: May 6th, 2018, midnight GMT+0
  • Duration: From May 14th, 2018 to January 31st, 2019
  • Level of activity: 10 days per month
  • Stipend: $1000 USD per month
Key links About diversity and inclusivity School of Data is committed to being inclusive in its recruitment practices. Inclusiveness means excluding no one because of race, age, religion, cultural appearance, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender. We proactively seek to recruit individuals who differ from one another in these characteristics, in the belief that diversity enriches all that we do. Flattr this!

2017 Summer Camp dispatch #1: Thank You

- October 3, 2017 in Event report, tanzania

image alt text School of Data’s 2017 Summer Camp has reached an end and was, by most metrics, a resounding success! This is especially when one considers the leap of faith we took on several aspects: the first three days included a new mix of sessions, which we tried to broadcast live; the last 2 days featured an Open Training section with 70 (!) participants, which required its own dedicated event planning to make it work; the full camp was documented on a live agenda allowing for remote following and contribution. The secret in making it work was to rely both on the skills of our staff and the power of our network. A round of thanks is consequently in order: Joachim Mangilima, who has been School of Data’s conductor on the ground throughout the Summer Camp, and was able to produce the work of a full event team on his own; image alt text Photo by Juan Casanueva, SocialTIC Our own Meg Foulkes, who was the second magician working behind the scenes and who made sure, among other key contributions, that School of Data network members reached and left Tanzania safely; SocialTIC, longtime School of Data network member and partner, who brought the Latin American team to the Summer Camp; the IREX team, who has been involved from the very beginning and helped make the Open Training with YALI Fellows a reality; image alt text The Data Collaboratives for Local Impact teams, who took responsibility for a huge part of the logistics involved in the Open Training, from the set up of the training space to the amazing barbecue! And finally, of course, the dozens of participants from the combined networks of School of Data, DCLI, dLab and Data Zetu who all contributed to make this event a success. image alt text A thousand times thank you! Flattr this!

2017 Summer Camp dispatch #1: Thank You

- October 3, 2017 in Event report, tanzania

image alt text School of Data’s 2017 Summer Camp has reached an end and was, by most metrics, a resounding success! This is especially when one considers the leap of faith we took on several aspects: the first three days included a new mix of sessions, which we tried to broadcast live; the last 2 days featured an Open Training section with 70 (!) participants, which required its own dedicated event planning to make it work; the full camp was documented on a live agenda allowing for remote following and contribution. The secret in making it work was to rely both on the skills of our staff and the power of our network. A round of thanks is consequently in order: Joachim Mangilima, who has been School of Data’s conductor on the ground throughout the Summer Camp, and was able to produce the work of a full event team on his own; image alt text Photo by Juan Casanueva, SocialTIC Our own Meg Foulkes, who was the second magician working behind the scenes and who made sure, among other key contributions, that School of Data network members reached and left Tanzania safely; SocialTIC, longtime School of Data network member and partner, who brought the Latin American team to the Summer Camp; the IREX team, who has been involved from the very beginning and helped make the Open Training with YALI Fellows a reality; image alt text The Data Collaboratives for Local Impact teams, who took responsibility for a huge part of the logistics involved in the Open Training, from the set up of the training space to the amazing barbecue! And finally, of course, the dozens of participants from the combined networks of School of Data, DCLI, dLab and Data Zetu who all contributed to make this event a success. image alt text A thousand times thank you! Flattr this!

Rethinking data literacy: how useful is your 2-day training?

- July 14, 2017 in research, training

As of July 2017, School of Data’s network includes 14 organisations around the world which collectively participate to organise hundreds of data literacy events every year. The success of this network-based strategy did not come naturally: we had to rethink and move away from our MOOC-like strategy in 2013 in order to be more relevant to the journalists and civil society organisations we intend to reach. In 2016 we did the same for our actual events.

The downside of short-term events

Prominent civic tech members have long complained about the ineffectiveness of hackathons to build long-lasting solutions for the problems they intended to tackle. Yet various reasons have kept the hackathon popular: it’s short-term, can produce decent-looking prototypes, and is well-known even beyond civic tech circles. The above stays true for the data literacy movement and its most common short-term events: meetups, data and drinks, one-day trainings, two-day workshops… they’re easy to run, fund and promote: what’s not to love? Well, we’ve never really been satisfied with the outcomes we saw of these events, especially for our flagship programme, the Fellowship, which we monitor very closely and aim to improve every year. Following several rounds of surveys and interviews with members of the School of Data network, we were able to pinpoint the issue: our expectations and the actual value of these events are mismatched, leading us not to take critical actions that would multiply the value of these events.

The Data Literacy Activity Matrix

To clarify our findings, we put the most common interventions (not all of them are events, strictly speaking) in a matrix, highlighting our key finding that duration is a crucial variable. And this makes sense for several reasons:
  • Fewer people can participate in a longer event, but those who can are generally more committed to the event’s goals

  • Longer events have much more time to develop their content and explore the nuances of it
  • Especially in the field of data literacy, which is focused on capacity building, time and repetition are key to positive outcomes
Data Literacy Activity Matrix (the categories used to group event formats are based on our current thinking of what makes a data literacy leader: it underpins the design of our Fellowship programme.)

Useful for what?

The matrix allowed us to think critically about the added value of each subcategory of intervention. What is the effective impact of an organisation doing mostly short-term training events compared to another one focusing on long-term content creation? Drawing again from the interviews we’ve done and some analysis of the rare post-intervention surveys and reports we could access (another weakness of the field), we came to the following conclusions:
  • very short-term and short-term activities are mostly valuable for awareness-raising and community-building.

  • real skill-building happens through medium to long-term interventions
  • content creation is best focused on supporting skill-building interventions and data-driven projects (rather than hoping that people come to your content and learn by themselves)
  • data-driven projects (run in collaboration with your beneficiaries) are the ones creating the clearest impact (but not necessarily the longest lasting).
Data Literacy Matrix - Value Added It is important, though, not to set short-term and long-term interventions in opposition. Not only can the difference be fuzzy (a long term intervention can be a series of regular, linked, short term events, for example) but both play roles of critical importance: who is going to apply to a data training if people are not aware of the importance of data? Conversely, recognising the specific added value of each intervention requires also to act in consequence: we advise against organising short-term events without establishing a community engagement strategy to sustain the event’s momentum. In hindsight, all of the above may sound obvious. But it mostly is relevant from the perspective of the beneficiary. Coming from the point of the view of the organisation running a data literacy programme, the benefit/cost is defined differently. For example, short-term interventions are a great way to find one’s audience, get new trainers to find their voice, and generate press cheaply. Meanwhile, long-term interventions are costly and their outcomes are harder to measure: is it really worth it to focus on training only 10 people for several months, when the same financial investment can bring hundreds of people to one-day workshops? Even when the organisation can see the benefits, their funders may not. In a field where sustainability is still a complicated issue many organisations face, long-term actions are not a priority.

Next steps

School of Data has taken steps to apply these learnings to its programmes.
  • The Curriculum programme, which initially focused on the production and maintenance of online content available on our website has been expanded to include offline trainings during our annual event, the Summer Camp, and online skillshares throughout the year;

  • Our recommendations to members regarding their interventions systematically refer to the data literacy matrix in order for them to understand the added value of their work;
  • Our Data Expert programme has been designed to include both data-driven project work and medium-term training of beneficiaries, differentiating it further from straightforward consultancy work.
We have also identified three directions in which we can research this topic further:
  • Mapping existing interventions: the number, variety and quality of data literacy interventions is increasing every year, but so far no effort has been made to map them, in order to identify the strengths and gaps of the field.
  • Investigating individual subgroups: the matrix is a good starting point for interrogating best practices and concrete outcomes in each of the subgroups, in order to provide more granular recommendations to the actors of the field and the designing of new intervention models.
  • Exploring thematic relevance: the audience, goals and constraints of, say, data journalism interventions, differ substantially from those of the interventions undertaken within the extractives data community. Further research would be useful to see how they differ to develop topic-relevant recommendations.
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