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A Corruption Observatory

I want to share this idea for some feedback. I’m working on the design of a corruption observatory. I’m not a corruption expert (though I work with some). To make it short, you feed information to develop a conversation which will turn into education. This will then raise the level of integrity of the people. I argue that by educating people about what corruption is, what integrity is, and about the processes and structure of the system you can fight corruption. I want to encourage Open Data (which has been a pain in the ass) as a tool to fight corruption. I believe you have to visualize the system. Everything has to be transparent. Here enters the concept of the panopticon, and a bit of crowdsourcing the search for the corrupt.

By talking about integrity I want to change the mood of the conversation from pursuing the corrupt to encouraging Integrity. When our conversation is about corruption our problem is corruption. By changing the conversation towards integrity we start talking about the solution instead of the problem. I want the conversation to be sort of the one we are having right now. Plus a wiki, and some conversation periodical meetings.

The education part is the one that I’m having more trouble with. Right now I see it as a product of the conversations about the information. I need to work on this more.

This is more or less the idea, I’m happy to converse about it and answer any points that are not clear or expand about my thoughts about it. I’m interested in practical stuff. I have been bombarded about the theory of corruption enough already.


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  • Mar 29 2012: First of all I think it's a great initiative to promote integrity rather than hunt down corruption. It is always better to encourage good virtues rather than put punishment on the bad ones.

    However in your origional post something is not completely clear to me.
    "To make it short, you feed information to develop a conversation which will turn into education."

    From the later part of your post I guess that the information feed is from "open data" aka more transparent companies etc. But how does that develop into a conversation which turns into education?
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      Mar 29 2012: Information is not just data. It also includes information about the government, the people that govern, about the processes that govern the government and the people. It has to also include information about how to do things, and how things works. I'm planning a huge wiki that grows to capture everything you might need.
      Most of the corruption I believe happens because of ignorance. You are corrupt because you do not know you are doing wrong. This can only be overcome by educating about how to do stuff, and for this you need to gather information about the structure and the processes also. It is not only necessary to measure (and make transparent) but also to document.
      • Mar 30 2012: still doesn't answer the question to how the acces to information will lead to a conversation that will lead into education.

        Also I don't think that people can 'be corrupt because they don't know they are doing wrong'. All cases of corrupt behaviour are thought up by someone who knows exactly how it's wrong. Sure sometimes it happens that the person selling a 'corrupt product' doesn't know it's corrupt... but still the guy who told him to sell it knows what it contains.
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          Mar 30 2012: Let me know if I'm missing something. We have information about the state, the functioning, and the elements of the system. We also have channels specially designed to encourage positive constructive conversations. I'm assuming that there would be some conversation going on about corruption. Conversations would include a great diversity of people. Some will be talking about the nature of corruption and integrity and the importance of being integrate. Others would converse about how the system works. Conversations process and organise information. On the one hand, If you are having conversations around a topic, you are educating yourself about it. On the other hand, conversations can help improve and develop tools for education. I'm assuming conversations educate. And if you are educated you will be good.

          By 'be corrupt because they don't know they are doing wrong' I mean that you are not exempt from the law because of ignorance. One example is me trying to invite the government employ for whom I'm client for lunch. He didn't accept, cause he is an integrate guy. I didn't thought trying to buy him lunch was a corrupt act. After some conversations I realised it was obvious that I couldn't buy him lunch, that is as bad as giving him a diamond watch as present.
      • Mar 30 2012: There are a lot of different types of corruption. But do you think that if you upload a lot of information about a company / government / other entity. That a person could get in there and understand the data better than the people at the top of the organisation?
        Because they have to check all of the numbers and have developed all of the functionings of the system etc.
        The idea that I could know better how an organisation works than the CEO of that company seems strange. So if the CEO can't tell if people are corrupt or not, how can I? And if the organisation / CEO himself is corrupt how can you know your data is valid (as it has to come from somewhere)?

        Corrupt people can only be corrupt because they don't have to explain their own actions or because they can do so in a way that fools others.

        One could say that employees of the organisation in question might be able to see what's going on because they work with someone who is corrupt. But that doesn't really give you a need to make it publically it just creates a need for organisations to internally have better control via more open data within the organisation.
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          Apr 2 2012: Sometimes you are corrupt because everyone is. I cross the street at the wrong place, because everyone is doing it. I arrive late because everyone is arriving late. What we want is to expose this behaviours and have a conversation about it. Let people know that it is wrong. The validity of the data is not as important as having the conversation. I don't need to know exactly how the system works. I just need to know the correct way for me to work as part of the system. The knowledge of the system is collective, and you have a local knowledge about your role on the system. Information---is the excuse that---triggers the conversation.

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