Instaurer des données, instaurer des publics : une enquête sociologique dans les coulisses de l'open data

Abstract : As more than fifty countries have launched an open data policy, this doctoral dissertation investigates on the emergence and implementation of such policies. It is based on the analysis of public sources and an ethnographic inquiry conducted in seven French local authorities and institutions. By retracing six moments of definitions of the “open data principles” and their implementation by a French institution, Etalab, this work shows how open data has brought attention to data, particularly in their raw form, considered as an untapped resource, the “new oil” lying under the organisations. The inquiry shows that the process of opening generally begins by a phase of identification marked by progressive and uncertain explorations. It allows to understand that data are progressively instantiated from management files into data. Their circulation provoke frictions: to leave the sociotechnical network of organisations, data generally go through validation circuits and chains of treatment. Besides, data must often undergo important treatments before their opening in order to become intelligible by machines as well as humans. This thesis shows eventually that data publics are also instantiated as they are expected to visualize, inspect and process the data. Data publics are instantiated through various tools, which compose another area of the invisible work of open data projects. Finally, it appears from this work that the possible legal requirement to open data asks a fundamental question, “what is data?” Instead of reducing data to a relational category, which would apply to any informational material, studied cases show that they generally are applied when data are a starting point of sociotechnical networks dedicated to their circulation, their exploitation and their visibility.
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Samuel Goeta. Instaurer des données, instaurer des publics : une enquête sociologique dans les coulisses de l'open data. Sociologie. Télécom ParisTech, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016ENST0045⟩. ⟨tel-01458098⟩

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