Accessibility links

I map for clarity. My mind works through arrows: possibly through my musical education, with its hairpin crescendo and diminuendos, my notes have always been notated both mathematically and musically. Employment ↓, as inflation ↑. Neoliberalism → to an < in soup kitchens. Economic growth ≠ socio-economic development. I do not think in a linear fashion, so these small arrows then become cross-referenced by the type of ↘ and { that would cause word to have a hissyfit and then die.

I map for clarity. My mind works through arrows: possibly through my musical education, with its hairpin crescendo and diminuendos, my notes have always been notated both mathematically and musically. Employment ↓, as inflation ↑. Neoliberalism → to an < in soup kitchens. Economic growth ≠ socio-economic development. I do not think in a linear fashion, so these small arrows then become cross-referenced by the type of ↘ and { that would cause word to have a hissyfit and then die.

At the RSA I am social network analysis ‘champion’, trying to mainstream my love of sociograms and graphs across the whole organisation. These visual maps of people’s social ties and information flows allow us to ‘unpeel’ the community, laying hidden links and structural weaknesses bare.

Yesterday I was thrown an interesting challenge. If I map out all the civic actors in a given place, do I make it easier and more efficient for them to act, or do I merely make it easier for the most powerful to co-opt what they are doing, all in the name of the Big Society? In an era of open information, but unequal access, who does the democratisation of information actually benefit? In a recent blog Thomas Neumark directed us to a report that showed that computerising all land records in Bangalore had lead to increased monopoly and far more targeted corruption.

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This all → the question. How can our mapping for clarity be targeted at those who need such clarity most? Finding that postmen and dustbin men (people?) are hidden reserves of connectivity is fascinating and sheds new light on how we view those links that make community. Yet using this information to re-brand badly paid public servants as big society information outlets would be exploitative and probably achieve the opposite of its intended outcomes. Highlighting community organisers can make volunteering more effective and far-reaching; yet we do not want those who live to organise and do, to become next years’ unpaid social service providers. If information is power, how do we stop this open-source informational power disproportionately benefiting those who already pull the strings?

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