Maybe multiple categories

The point is well taken, I can see how groups that use technology for transparency may need to be categorised differently as they may use the same technologies across different fields. I am still puzzling about this for 4 reasons though:

(1) We are assuming that dinero y politica and our budget are ‘technology groups’ ie that what defines them is their use of technology for transparency. If that is the case, they may have more in common with each other and thus come under a ‘technical tools to monitor budgets’ category. But what if you had one ‘classic’ political finance group that also happened to use technology (a good thing, that may happen in the future), and a more traditional budget monitoring group that is also using technology (let’s say that MKSS starts using technology in their work) – how do you categories them? By what they are trying to achieve (i.e. cleaning up political party finance, or empowering citizens to have a say in their local government’s budgets? Or by one of the various means they are using to achieve it (the tech side)? IE I think we need to both keep in mind the change that groups are trying to achieve, as well as the tools they use to achieve those aims. Maybe it’s less that the categories themselves are dynamic, and more that the groups are defined three dimensionally: what they are trying to do / how they are trying to do it using non-tech tools/ how they are trying to do it using tech tools?
(2) Having said the above, I would put the ‘classic’ groups vs. ‘technology’ groups distinction aside – it strikes me that all the groups both want to impact change in a particular area (or give people voice in a particular area) as well are concerned with the technology to make this happen. IE all groups are three dimensional.
(3) It may then be useful to define the categories used in the network: ie when we say ‘budgets’, do we mean the ‘technical tools to make budgets (whether government or private) transparent’, ie are we referring to the types of technology that they are using to achieve their goals and not the types of goals that they are aiming to achieve? Then - are the groups classified as ‘private sector’ or ‘extractive industries’ or ‘aid transparency’ in the right boxes? What about a group that monitors aid transparency but uses the same tools as those in the example given above, should it then not be categorised under ‘budgets’?
(4) If the web platform becomes a space where: (1) tech groups that do not work on transparency meet tech for transparency groups, (2)tech for transparency groups learn from one another, (3) non tech groups learn and adopt tech tools, all these taxonomy issues will become key.
(5) All this has led to me to question what a technology for transparency group is. There will be groups whose raison d’etre comes from the tech side, but also others that use technology instrumentally in their work. For example, groups monitoring deforestation in Cameroon that give handheld GPS devices to local communities for them to monitor where the illegal logging is taking place and then put that info on the web. Again, these groups are clearly concerned with deforestation but may also be using technology that is used across other sectors – how do we categorise them? Which brings me back to point 2!

If our key concern is to facilitate groups learning from each other, it strikes me that these issues become key core to our work. A discussion around taxonomies might be a great way to start phase 2.


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