research links w 37 -17

I’m going to start prioritizing brevity, leaving out some of the absurdity and academic opps, let me know if you miss anything.

Findings

How to improve the quality of crowdsourced citizen science data? Technical measures help, but only when accompanied by instructions, according to an empirical study of four cases. Meanwhile, open data on public safety and transportation are the most popular datasets in US cities, according to research from @SunFoundation.

On engagement and impact, a study of Indonesian open data users reveals a laundry list of things government should do to make data #opendata portals more trustworthy and user friendly, while new research from @guygrossman on citizen mobile reporting in Uganda, finding a significant uptake and enthusiasm but no impact. Findings suggest the content of reporting matters. Continue reading “research links w 37 -17”

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Cosgrove goes to Washington

I’ve just finished my first week at Georgetown University, where I’ll be through the end of 2017 (locals can find me at cw986). I’m here to do field work for a case study on the institutional context of open government, and it’s an exciting theme to be digging into right now, as the US revamps work on it’s much speculated OGP participation. Continue reading “Cosgrove goes to Washington”

The (other) problem with scholarship on digital politics

One of the great dangers of the digital moment we currently are liveing through is that the discipline as a whole will succumb to a particularly virulent form of availability bias. It is easy to gather Twitter data. It is harder to navigate the Facebook terms of service, and even harder still to cobble together a comprehensive email dataset. As a result, both academic journals and academic conferences feature mountains of Twitter papers, molehills written about Facebook, and an awkward silence regarding email. We study the kinds of social media that we can access, regardless of their relative importance in political life. […]

It is not enough to study digital trace data as an alternative to surveys and content analysis. We must also attend to the messy, flawed, incomplete organizational logics that incorporate this data into strategic deliberation.

That’s David Karpf, closing out his book, Analytical Activism (pp. 174-5), on how campaigning orgs are using internal metrics to make strategic decisions. There’s a lot to it, and strategic data use isn’t the only blind spot. Perhaps more important is the kinds of organizations that tend to get studied, and how that skews the field more generally, making research outputs less useful to the kinds of orgs that actually need them.

I’m writing a review on the book, which takes issue with how the book defines it’s scope and how it’s contribution might be made more widely relevant to activist orgs. Link and summary forthcoming.

A belated summer dump (w 28-36)

So I’ve been away for a whopping 8 weeks, bouncing between holidays,  summer schools, consultancies and moving the fam to DC. Somehow the internet refused to stop while I was gone. So as I get back into the swing of things, here is an abbreviated summary of the summer’s findings in civic tech research, plus a couple of choice weeds and reflections.

Continue reading “A belated summer dump (w 28-36)”

research links w25 – 17

Findings

From the duh desk: 
A white paper from Cornell Law reviews e-government and rulemaking processes in the US, to find that an institutional “culture of risk adverseness” is much more obstructive to e-participation than is a lack of technological solutions.

What difference does it make?:
An article in Telecommunications Policy documents how mobiles have dramatically reshaped the political communication ecology in Ghana and deepened civic engagement, without affecting “the fundamental structures of political power and the levers of control.” Things look slightly better in a series of research briefs on open data and OGP processes produced by @ITforChange and @AllVoicesCount. The briefs describe incremental progress in all three countries, with significant reservations. Despite increasingly progressive open data practice and policy in the Philippines, for example, “the benefits to individual democratic citizenship are far more conclusive than the benefits to democracy as a whole.” Similarly, the increasingly participatory and inclusive nature of Uruguay’s OGP action plans are described as “gradually modifying” governance processes, through increased interaction and deliberation (though the research brief provides neither a narrative nor a theory to explain how this might be happening). Most optimistically, the brief on inclusive municipal technologies in Spain describes not only specific instances of “engaged and transformative citizenship,” but a proliferation of knowledge sharing and participatory strategies across the country. Here too however, details are light.

In other news, sorry, democracy does not cause innovationContinue reading “research links w25 – 17”