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

Research Links ( w19/16)


Papers / Findings

  • Fifty Shades of Open. New paper from @jpom &@robinpeek on all the wacky ways we talk about #open. Breaks the word down into 7 primary tropes. Useful reference point when parsing jargon.
  • MySociety writes about research on FOI requests in the Czech Republic. Their experiment sent 2 FOI requests to 100 agencies via both email and the national Avateli implementation. Quality of responses were comparable, but on average, Avateli responses came two days quicker (7.2 vs 9.2 days). No paper or data yet.
  • Two new papers on factors influencing participation in civic tech. Determinants of E-participation in the citizens and the government initiatives (PAYWALL) uses survey data (n=407) to look at rural communities in India, and finds that community values and perceptions about individual political efficacy are influential on decisions to participate. The conclusions and study design seem to overreach the sample size IMO. Factors Explaining Public Participation in the Central Government Budget Process (PAYWALL) takes an econometric analysis of survey data from the Open Budget Partnership to compare countries (n=93), to find that “Internet penetration, population diversity, governmental financial situation, and budget transparency determine opportunities for public engagement”. I’m going to have to brush up my stats to look deeper into the methods on this one.
  • Financial gain remains the go-to metric for open data impact. This paper argues that opening German govt data could generate € 43.1 billion annually. Sigh.
  • #responsibledata data sharing: new paper from@jwyg, @fborgesius and Mireille van Eechoud proposes a framework for balancing public interest arguments for sharing data with privacy concerns, also noting different types of privacy concerns often associated with different types of data.



  • Open Democracy has an excellent opinion piece on the professionalization of civil society, and how collaborative approaches are crowding out the kinds of adversarial tactics that are the most effective drivers of change. This recalls Tom Steinberg’s recent critique of the #opendata movement, but is more directly dealing with civil society under the auspices of CIVICUS’s civil society week. A lumbering institution not without it’s flaws, of which it is conscious. Read @civicussg’s take here.
  • I’ve been really surprised by the prominent references SDG 16 measurement as a tool for data and accountability recently. (In the context of World Press Freedom Day, anti-corruption, and the OGP, for example.) Noting that these are loose references, and that the actual measurement debate still hasn’t moved beyond the general idea of nationally specific metrics, this feels like subtle morphing of the “data revolution” discourse.
  • Duncan Green questions the logic rhetoric of “disruption”, reviewing a recent report from IIED and drawing attention to the fact that disruption tends to be something the north does to the south, without asking first.



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


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