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

research links w 17-17



Power users of civic reporting platforms tend to cluster geographically and disseminate use of platform use in their neighborhoods. This is the main finding of new research on 311 platforms in San Fransisco (surveys, n=5k over 5 yrs), though the title and abstract are misleading, promising insights on “co-production” more generally (the authors reference the distinction, but only to exploit a casual equation), and implying a problem of elite capture. Sigh.

Community  & Resources

Quality standards for open government data? Marta Indulska and Shazia Sadiq think it’s researchers job to push for them. Meanwhile, @eytanadar ‏ makes a strong argument against data exploration without hypotheses (h/t @FlowingData), and @_AndrewYoung announced a new “Opening Governance stream” on the @monkeycageblog, but I wasn’t able to find it on the blog.

Last week was The Impact of Civic Technology Conference (#TicTec), @DanLammerhirt ‏ has some useful reflections.

There’s a new book on digital humanities and lot’s of praise for@alemannoEU ‘s new book on lobbying (#advox #citizenvoice: @civicusSG calls it a “guidebook” for the #participation revolution. Go!). Otherwise, there’s some predictably bad news for the free press in the this year’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index. TL;DR: democracy’s decline is bad news for journalism. Things are looking dark and @FreedomHouseDC ‏ warns of a “tipping point.”

In the Methodological Weeds

@fhi360research wraps up a series of three blogposts on sampling by reviewing evidence on the appropriate number of interviews to reach saturation in qual research. TL;DR: 6-12, less if you’ve got focus groups to complement.

@BerkOzler12 writes a case of poor RCT design (cash transfers), imp reminder that assumptions can get easily hidden in experimental evidence.

Academic Opps

New Stanford course on “The Active Citizen in a Digital Age” from @p2173 and @robreich #participation #civictech‏

Protest Camps and Beyond: Temporality, Informality, Memory and Care (Event: 7 June, Leicester UK)

6th ICTs and Society Conference: Interdisciplinary Symposium on Activism, Research & Critique in the Age of Big Data Capitalism (20-21 May, London)

Workshop: Reconsidering Design for Civic Engagement and Participation (Deadline: 26 May, Event: 28 Aug, UK)


  • PhD in Media and Communication Studies (Malmö , Deadline 16 May)

Calls for Papers/Proposals/Participation:

Miscellanea & Absurdum

  • Crooked Timber reflections on the artistic and pedagogical merits of Cory Doctorow’s latest novel.
  • News: Dutch city of Utrecht is pioneering a new system called Flo, which detects cyclists’ speeds and advises on whether to speed up or slow down to make the green lights. (Springwise)
  • A beautiful satire asks: What if we brought “predictive policing” to business crime? (Medium, #civicfiction)
  • Fitbit fitness tracker cracks Connecticut murder case (Headline)

    Making research articles freely available can help to negate gender citation effects in political science (LSE blogpost)

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