Principle investigator, Francois van Schalkwyk, attended the pre-conference symposium of the ICT for Development 2013 conference in Cape Town, South Africa, from 2 to 6 December. The symposium focussed on the usefulness of the ecosystems approach in analysing and understanding ICTs for development. Francois presented the OpenUCT ODDC team's paper 'Viscous open data: The flow of data in a public university governance ecosystem'. The paper is currently being revised based on useful post-presentation feedback and insights gained from other presentations at the symposium.
This paper explores the flow of data by constructing an open data ecosystem using the case of the South African public university governance. It reveals three different forms of supply from the same government dataset within the ecosystem. Based on the insights revealed by the particular ecosystem, the paper argues for the importance of the information context in which open data is supplied if it is to contribute to the ecosystem in ways that will allow the ecosystem to evolve. In the absence of government’s efforts to supply an informative context, intermediaries are likely to step into the vacuum, but, as this paper points out, questions remain around the sustainability and broader impact of open data supplied by intermediaries.