Posted 1 August, 2012 by Susannah Vila

4 Questions to Ask Before Using Tech in Advocacy for Transparency and Accountability

Too often, people focus on getting a technology platform right before figuring out how technology integrates with non-technological strategy. This misalignment of priorities made up the crux of the webinar I caught this morning, given by the Transparency & Accountability Initiative on technology, transparency and strategy.

Digging a little deeper, the hour-long session introduced a framework referred to as a “Transparency Action Cycle.” This cycle outlines what’s needed for transparency to lead to offline impact.

To use it, ask yourself the following questions about the information that you wish to uncover and make available for the public good:

1. Who do I think will care about this information and why?

2. How are they going to get this information – will they search and find our website? If so, what would they search for? How can I take this information and make it available to them where they are already reading news online?

3. When my audience seeks out information of this sort, why do they do it? They may be looking for a new job rather than an opportunity to hold their government accountable, and would therefore be less likely to take an action you ask of them.

4. To the extent that my audience does take an action, how will targets respond and how do you want them to respond?

These strategy components are not fundamentally different than those employed in any issue area or field. I’m not convinced that, as a community of advocates and organizers, we need a different playbook for every issue area. And yet I do think that the reshaping of these guidelines so that they fit seamlessly into the act of uncovering information, making it digestible and spurring action is a great service. So, without further ado, share this strategic framework with your friends!

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