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

research links w 3/17


Papers & Findings

What makes multi stakeholder initiatives for transparency effective? In the case of EITI, it seems to be treating civil society  as equal partners and ensuring that they bring relevant technical skills to the table. This according to doctoral research that also outlines common “pathways to proactive transparency reform.” Would be great to see research testing these findings in other MSI contexts, cough, the OGP.

Data on the 2012 online consultation for the Egyptian constitution suggests that demonstrably popular articles are less likely to be changed, but that ex ante agreement on constitutional design among elites is just as important as popular consensus on substance for successful citizen feedback initiatives.

A new handbook on political trust looks amazing and timely, but is prohibitively expensive, and this new book on participatory democracy compares participatory hype to increasingly reported feelings of disconnection from politics, finding that ” participatory instruments have become more focused on the formation of public opinion and are far less attentive to, or able to influence, actual reform.”

Meanwhile, doctoral research on social projects in Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic and Chile argues that open government data aren’t at all useful to marginalized groups advocating for social change. User perspectives were addressed by a variety of scholarly articles, concluding that Indians are less satisfied with e-government than with transparency, collaboration and involvement it offers, Chinese who express political opinions about contentious issues online do so for different reasons than those who talk about non-contentious issues, and New Zealanders don’t think that professionalism is particularly important in civic life.

Commentary and Community

The GovLab launched (partners are UNICEF and Omidyar), a website on cross-sectoral projects built around data sharing and collabroation (researchers too), and which curates case studies, explainers and guides for starting your own.

R4D and MAVC describe ongoing research on innovation labs, (“tech innovation hubs with some level of interaction with policymakers and some element of social impact”), and link to an open access bibliography, which references statistics, definitions, models, impact metrics and case studies referenced in the literature.

Open Knowledge released a Question Engine for Open Data Surveys , a modular collection of questions (the good old questions we know and love from GODI), but which can be customized and reordered to fit better with local (ie: municipal) websites. The engine has built in path logic, the code is open source, and it even looks pretty :).

ICTworks’ Jacob Korenblum argues for using messaging apps and emojis in M&E, @flowingdata has released a catalogue of visualation tools, organized by function, and “with a focus on the free and open source stuff,” and Open Corporates has added a corporate grouping for Donal Trump, mapping his business assets and investments.

LSE reviews “Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Social Sciences: Methods that Matter“, finding it more useful for guidance on structuring research outputs, than on developing relationships with policy makers.

Academic Opps

Calls for Papers

Miscellanea & Absurdum

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