Methodical Snark

critical reflections on how we measure and assess civic tech
This is a blog about how the civic tech and accountability field measures its work and its impact. It’s based on a critical perspective, but tries to be more productive than conference snark. It’s an effort to highlight how much work is being done in silos across the academic-NGO divide, to de-mystify important methods and findings, and to call out research that is sloppy or unhelpful. Scroll for the blog roll, or check out the core content types:
WEEKLY RESEARCH ROUNDUP: findings, happenings, and absurdity in civic tech research. 
I read THIS FOR YOU: summaries for those with more interest than time. 
Mini Lit Reviews: when I wonder about something, I check what the research says, and write it up.

Latest stories

Roundup: formal organizations campaign more online, instructive failure in scaling engagement, and weedsy methods for measureing #open

Civic tech research last week included deep dives into measuring and assessing open government in Mexico, insights on why governments choose collaboration, and field experiments that hint at the limits of scaled engagement strategies. Plus, funding, resources for mapping legal regimes, and smart thinking on how to think about civic tech impact.

Roundup: circumvention on the rise, costing closed contracting, better case selection, and a check list for digital methods

Last week saw new evidence on the costs of closed contracting, features for participatory engagement, and the positive outcomes of collaborative and adaptive development programming. Plus there's new resources for using Stata and guidance on digital and econometric methods. Plus, smart phones make us do silly things.

Roundup: participation is up in Latin America, nobody’s paying for the data revolution, and somebody finally asked the activists what research they actually want

Last week in civic tech saw a new index on civic engagement in Latin America, findings on government run crowdsourcing initiatives, lessons from m-health pilots, and some excellent summaries from the world of development research. Plus major geekdom on QCA methods, and for the first time I'm aware of, actual research on what kind of research activists want.

The Pickle Post Cont’d

As noted, I’ve been away. Here’s a quick update on some of the pickles I’ve had in my jar. They’re all wrapping up now, which means more snark is en route. The Teaching Pickle I’ve been teaching a class at Georgetown this spring on Technology, Transparency and Accountable Government Under Trump. It’s a mixed grad/undergrad seminar offered at the School of Foreign Service program on Science...

Back to blog (the pickle problem)

So I’ve been away from this blog since the new year. That’s pushing four months un-snarked, which is sad. But capacity has been tight. I subscribe to the pickle jar theory of time management (pickles are the big things that demand your time, spices are the small tasks you pour into the jar after you know how many pickles you can fit). Simply put, the snark had to make way for a couple other...

Why No One Cares About Your Stupid Research

Recent reflections about the irrelevance of academic political communication research should help prompt the civic tech community to think critically about why no one is using all the research that gets produced these days. It's time for a frank conversation that's frankly overdue.

Roundup: evidence on the power of knowing who’s watching, nothing disruptive about open data research, and wet string.

Highlights from civic tech research last week included calls for intermediaries to build safe spaces for government data, an unsurprising stocktaking on open data research, and a productive research takedown by someone who's not me. Plus, there's piles of almost useful learnings, useful help for contribution analysis and data analysis with visualization, and tips for making research useful. Also...

Short Summary of the Bank case study on participatory rule-making

The title of this report promised a lot,, so I was disappointed to see how little the document had to offer. It's essentially a read of the Bank's GIRG data relevant to participatory rule-making, but fails to offer much insight. This is disappointing given so much dynamic work being done in the field, like GovLab's crowdlaw project.

Roundup: why people participate in politics and tweet storms, problems with generalizing research, throwing statistics out with the bathwater

Last week had interesting findings on political mobilization, now with brain scans. Lots of discussions about appropriate methods for measuring government performance, improving statistics and facilitating adaptive programming. Useful resources from the Engine Room and Beautiful Rising. Oh, and Disco!.

Methodical Snark critical reflections on how we measure and assess civic tech

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