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

February 2017

Review – Popular Democracy: the Participation Paradox

Though you wouldn’t know it from the title, Popular Democracy is about participatory budgeting, full stop. It’s a fantastic little book (213 pgs) that’s both accessible and illustrative, leveraging an ethnographic account of several participatory budgeting case studies to argue for the potential power of participatory mechanisms more broadly. It’s a casually written book that’s a...

research links w8-17

Findings #participationwashing? Participatory mechanisms promise to empower the marginalized, and can provide the illusion of power, but an ethnographic study on development processes in Boston shows how participation can simply reinforce existing power dynamics: “residents appear empowered, while officials retain ultimate decision-making authority.” Worse than that, a (peer reviewed...

Why do governments do civic tech and open government? (a mini lit review)

The civic tech and open government community spends a fair amount of energy persuading government counterparts to get in the game, measuring how well they do, and encouraging them to do more and better. There seems to be based on a general assumption that doing so works best when appealing to government incentives, either to make their work easier, to increase their legitimacy or to get on the...

research links w 7-17

What a week… Papers & Findings Political tech: A survey of Swedish NGOs (n=907) suggests that civil society needs lots of human resources to use social media effectively in campaigns, which raises the bar for entry, and strengthens an elite cohort of civil  society organizations. Tech was shown to directly help voters, however, as new research strengthens the claim that information apps...

research links w5-17

Papers & Findings What makes for a strong and democratic public media? According to comparative research on “12 leading democracies,” it’s all about multi-year funding, legal charters limiting gov influence, arms-length oversight agencies and audience councils. Compelling, but not shocking. Similarly, we know that the internet doesn’t drive democracy, but increased...

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

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