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Feedback as Democracy in Social Change Practice

  A huge shift is happening in the social sector. Dennis Whittle traces it all the way back to the birth of democracy in Greece circa 594 BCE. The people are sovereign! In titling our special theme ‘Beyond accountability: feedback as transformation’ we are signalling that the long march of…

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Toronto, Civic Data, and Trust

Yesterday, Sidewalk Labs proposed using a Civic Data Trust as a governance vehicle to manage data collection and use in its smart city development project in Quayside. It’s the largest scale proposal of the Civic Data Trust model to date, and it comes in the midst of a tense political…

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WFP-Palantir and the Ethics of Humanitarian Data Sharing

The recently announced World Food Programme (WFP) partnership with Palantir, IRIN’s article about it, reactions from the Responsible Data Forum, and WFP’s resulting statement inspired us to pull together a Technology Salon in New York City to discuss the ethics of humanitarian data sharing. (See this crowdsourced document for more…

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Sorting Algorithms: The Role of Civil Society

I have recently found myself repeatedly making the case for the importance of involving civil society in the growing debate about the development of AI. (For instance, where are charities in the great AI debate?, It’s more vital than ever that charities get to grips with AI, and our voices…

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The Metrics Myth

Since at least the early ‘90s, those involved in the generation of more than money have been on a quest to capture the right balance between documentation of impact and claims to same. For me personally, I have been a reluctant crusader in this quest for coming on thirty years.…

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Data Review Boards: Facebook, Data Governance, and Trusts in Practice

This piece was originally published on Medium. This past weekend, years of advocacy and reporting from Carole Cadwalladr, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, and Max Schrems finally got its due on the front pages of the New York Times, the Guardian, and then, well, everywhere else. Without going into the minutiae, Cambridge Analytica,…

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Strava, Contracts, and Our Data Stockholm Syndrome

In the last few days, there has been a lot of hand wringing after Strava, a run tracking app, published a global heat map of its users’ exercise paths. As it turns out, in many of the world’s most dangerous locations, the only people using social exercise tracking apps are…

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You Don’t Need a Data Scientist, You Need a Data Culture

This piece was originally published on Medium. The DataBasic.io project is supported by a 2016 Digital Impact Grant. Most of the larger non-profit organizations we work with are scrambling to figure out how to deploy complex technologies like machine learning and “AI” in service of the social good. These include…

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What I Learned from Nancy Lublin About Data on Purpose

  I was lucky enough earlier this month to hear Nancy Lublin’s opening keynote at the Data On Purpose conference hosted by the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The conference theme was about using data for social change and sessions were addressed the growing proliferation of data in the nonprofit sector…

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Are Proxy Buyers Stunting the Growth of the Nonprofit Economy?

  The market engine behind our nonprofit service economy is the act of funders and donors “proxy buying” a service or program on behalf of a population. Analogous to “in loco parentis,” where a school plays the role of the parent while children are in their care, in the nonprofit…

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