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

Snark spring cleaning


You may have noticed that the snark has been slow lately. We can blame that on me finishing my doctoral dissertation, which I submitted last month. I’m going to pick things up again now, but make some changes too.

Most immediately, I’m quitting the regular round ups. Their just too much work. Several of you have told me that you find them useful, but they’re a pain to compile and it *must* be a pain to read. I’ve tried doing them weekly, monthly, and in multi-month lumps, but can’t quite make the cost-benefit equation balance out. And frankly, after three years of academic work, I’m eager to spend less time writing about what other people are doing. So I’ll post one last “comprehensive” round up, then abandon all pretension of a comprehensive review.

Instead I’ll occasionally post topical round ups, when I see that there’s a bunch of interesting research popping up around a specific issue or theme. I’ll also do a better job of responding to requests for summaries and reviews. Hopefully this is more interesting and useful than the endless stretch of bulleted lists, capturing every single article on e-government in Oman. Really, there’s been a lot of those.

I’ll also take the opportunity to write more reflections about the role of research and evidence in civic tech design and implementation. While working on my doctorate, I’ve had the privilege of helping out with a few different things, like building an evidence base for open contracting advocacy and a research driven support initiative for digital service in the US. This has taught me a lot about the limits of integrating research and practice, but I haven’t had the bandwidth to write about it. Look out. Here it comes.

Lastly, I’m closing a major life chapter by submitting my doctoral dissertation, and while I wait to hear if I’m approved for defense, I should share some of what I learned along the way. Unfortunately, I’m limited in how much I can share, because my dissertation was article-based, composed of four peer-reviewed journal articles and a cover chapter that presents those articles and their analyses holistically. Two of the articles are in print and linked below. The other two are still in blind peer review, so I can’t blog about them yet, or the cover chapter. That’s frustrating, because it’s been a year since the first was sent in. But that’s another blog post.

For now, I’ll put up a couple of posts that draw directly from published articles, and which I hope are interesting in advance of the OGP Summit and at the end of this month. As more articles clear the peer review hurdle, I’ll link them below, and write a summary post.

Doctoral articles in press/print:

    1. Multi-stakeholder policy learning and institutionalization:  the surprising failure of open government in Norway (forthcoming in Policy Studies, see preprint)
    2. Look Who’s Talking: Assessing Civic Voice and Interaction in OGP Commitments (published in eJournal of eDemocracy and Open Government special issue, Dec. 2017)

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