In the New Republic, copyright activist and professor Lawrence Lessig pens an essay called Against Transparency: The Perils Of Openness In Government (Warning: the essay is 11 pages of some pretty dry writing). Lessig makes the argument that while transparency in government seems like a good thing, it's not always so, and he seemingly worries that there are some things that citizens just wouldn't understand in government if given complete access to data, and that the whole process will simply make voters more cynical. That strikes me as a little lame, and more like "I don't trust voters to make decisions based on what they see".
How could anyone be against transparency? Its virtues and its utilities seem so crushingly obvious. But I have increasingly come to worry that there is an error at the core of this unquestioned goodness. We are not thinking critically enough about where and when transparency works, and where and when it may lead to confusion, or to worse. And I fear that the inevitable success of this movement--if pursued alone, without any sensitivity to the full complexity of the idea of perfect openness--will inspire not reform, but disgust. The "naked transparency movement," as I will call it here, is not going to inspire change. It will simply push any faith in our political system over the cliff.