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

Research Links (w20/16)


Papers / Findings

  • Badges are back! There’s invariably at least 1 working group at every collaborative sticky event that proposes a system of badges for internet advocacy tools, data or groups. Almost none get off the ground (Open Integrity Index might remain the most promising), but a new paper (Badges to Acknowledge Open Practices: A Simple, Low-Cost, Effective Method for Increasing Transparency) suggests that badges have are associated with significant changes in open research practices in at least one community.
  • Incentives for uptake: Citizens’ Adoption Behavior of Mobile-Government (mGov): A Cross-Cultural Study. (PAYWALL). Survey-based study (Canada, Bangladesh, Germany) finds percieved ease of use, usability, reliability and security to be determinate, and that countries are different.
  • Global norms: Global agenda and ICT4D in Africa: Constraints of localizing ‘universal norm’. (PAYWALL) Interview-based study on the failure of the Africa Information Society Initiative (circa 1996), faults “political bureaucracy and policy inertia” exacerbated by “one-size fits all” policy, limited resources, and “competing initiatives.” Useful lessons for #opengovernment and OGP.
  • Purposive sampling (SM sites for 80 local gov’s over 1 month) suggests Spanish authorities prefer Facebook to Twitter (PAYWALL) for citizen engagement, but that mood and political context are determinant. Also that government transparency correlates with citizen engagement: “making public information available through web portals promotes citizen engagement via social media” (p15).
  • Italian case study suggests methods for policy makers to test public sentiment on policy alternatives through social media monitoring.
  • @evonfriedland has mapped open data repositories on github. TL;DR: it’s patchy. UK & USA loom large, cities are the biggest forkers, and there are a lot of “loners”. Worth a full read.
  • Latest Open Data Impact Map report suggests that open data is being used by business in developed countries and by “developer groups” (aka civil society) in developed countries.



  • Big bad wolf Elsevier buys SSRN, hands wring.
  • According to google scholar, the most influential social science is produced by white men
  • MySociety reviews 330k FOI requests in the UK to analyze their subject matter. They identify a comon themes among requests to most common bodies, and argued for proactive and granular transparency by those bodies (an argument supported by recent review of requests at the Wold Bank, btw). No data or paper yet.
  • Favorite contributions to current polemics on intermediaries:
    • Evgeny Morozov suggests changing the law so that we can tear data from the cold dead hands of social media platforms
    • Hossein Derakhshan rails against FB for destroying the open web
    • The ever discerning@zeynep calls it all trival, reminds us that ““surfaced by an algorithm” is not a defense of neutrality, because algorithms aren’t neutral.”



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