Information wants to be complex

Jun 28, 2013

Questions lead to answers that lead to more questions. Tactical Tech Info Activism Camp has a number of tracks: Documentation, Investigation, Curation, and Beautiful Troublemakers. I joined the "microscopes are us" evidence team aka Documentation. We've spent the week in brain strain grappling with the nature of problem-solving, decision-making, ethics, analysis and documentation. Our mighty facilitators built the sessions based on real projects and examples. Our community of participants infused it with their project examples. It is often within the scenarios that the rich detail inspires and challenges us. As one participant opined: "Information wants to be complex" and another stated: "Information sometimes has a force of will."

What would you do?

Our Thursday discussion focused on Ethics in Documentation. These examples are about "personal identifying information" and "informed consent". ethical1 ethical2

Questions and Statements from the Documentation Discussions

Each of us had various questions and alternate viewpoints: How do organizations and individuals manage risk? Moral decisions are circumstantial. We are not longer gatekeepers of information. Who's data is it anyway? Ethical decisions can change over time. Sometimes you need to take a risk when conflicted on ethics. Be prepared to defend and stick to a decision. Information belongs to the person, not to us. Be responsible. How can we make information powerful and use it to make change on the ground?

Next Steps:

I suggest that we collectively create an Ethics toolkit to help keep the momentum of the discussion. As an output of this camp, I am creating further guidelines for using Ushahidi for our community. I will include ethical scenarios based on our work. This idea directly comes from my experiences here. Thanks to all the participants and organizers.