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

Last week in civic tech research: rehashing research; the importance of policy entrepreneurs, digital intermediaries and regulatory zombies


Running behind this week, but fortunately things were rather calm. Lots of summaries, stories and teases. The zombie was a high point.




Policy entrepreneurs are associated with early open data policy adoption and better data portals, according to an empirical analysis of Australian Federal and State Governments. Village level digital intermediaries play a critical, yet tenuous role in rolling out Indian government tech interventions.


The GPSA Knowledge Platform followed up on their recent webinar on research findings with written answers to questions they didn’t have time to answer in the webinar. The answers are pithy, but it’s still great practice.

Case studies

The new book Media Activism in the Digital Age is chock full of them, though there doesn’t appear to be any comparative analysis or synthesis. Fidèle A. Vlavo’s Performing Digital Activism, on the other hand, uses a handful of cases to make an argument about structural development of digital activism over the last 3 decades.

UNICEF has a study documenting how cultural factors influence social protection and citizenship programming in Ghana, India and Brazil. Culture is also shown to play a profound role in shaping international crisis communication surrounding Syria’s civil war, the missing Malaysia Flight, and Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

Looking for stories about open data? The Research for Impact blog has summarized cases from the GovLab’/ODI research released earlier this year, and Robert Palmer has curated a list of sources for open data stories related to public sector performance.

Making all voices count (#tease)

The most anticipated happening in civic tech research last week was likely the Making All Voices Count final learning event. MAVC has been a massive endeavor, funneling the efforts of several major donors and NGOs and several million dollars into five years worth of experimentation around technology and civic voice. The collaboration has included a significant research component, with over 60 external grants, in-house research and an extensive evaluation (check out their ambitious research strategy).

The event was expected by many to be a culmination of sorts, and was preceded by summary blog posts (here and here) and a pdf collecting blurbs on select research a couple days before hand. But it’s not yet clear what the program has learned. As far as I’ve understood, aside from an introductory speech from Rosie McGee, findings and learnings weren’t much presented in any structured way, mostly discussed loosely by very intelligent and informed people on well-lit stages.  This event was more of an input to that final report, which is still on its way. Can’t… wait….


JPal has a guide for rolling them out in US state and local governments.

For the titles

The fiscal illusion zombie: the undead theory of government regulatory incentives (American University Law Review)

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