How Open Government Demoralizes

Lawrence Lessig argues against total transparency:

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.

And this is a bad thing? Lessig again:

All the data in the world will not tell us whether a particular contribution bent a result by securing a vote or an act that otherwise would not have occurred. The most we could say--though this is still a very significant thing to say--is that the contributions are corrupting the reputation of Congress, because they raise the question of whether the member acted to track good sense or campaign dollars. Where a member of Congress acts in a way inconsistent with his principles or his constituents, but consistent with a significant contribution, that act at least raises a question about the integrity of the decision. But beyond a question, the data says little else.