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

I Read This For You

There’s a slew of reports and articles coming out. When they are widely relevant or particularly important, I’ll try to summarize them concisely, so that you can get the main points, without settling into a 50 pg PDF before breakfast.
Feel free to send requests.

I read this for you: Experimental Evidence from 2,150 Brazilian Municipalities on how Research Affects Policy

What is it: A 59pg Working Paper from NBER (inc. 6pgs of references and 29 pgs of tables and annexes). Presents the results of two field experiments, plus background and lots of methods. Includes a highly readable 4 page intro that summarizes everything. Produced by four solid academics doing rigorous work, with no institutional biases that I can see. Should you care: Maybe. It’s a cool and smart...

Short summary of OGP research on open gov and trust in Latin America

What is it?: Restoring Trust through Open Government: an analysis of open government initiatives across Latin American subnational cases (36 pg report presenting research findings from 9 cities, commissioned by OGP). Main Point: Online interaction is bringing municipal governments and publics closer together, building trust in government in the process. Where it’s coming from I read this as part...

Short Summary of the Bank case study on participatory rule-making

The title of this report promised a lot,, so I was disappointed to see how little the document had to offer. It's essentially a read of the Bank's GIRG data relevant to participatory rule-making, but fails to offer much insight. This is disappointing given so much dynamic work being done in the field, like GovLab's crowdlaw project.

Looking for voice in the chatter

First of all, let me say that I like theory. I like convoluted and complex language when it represents careful and complex argumentation and analysis. I actually enjoy reading Deleuze, I think philosophy is fun, and I will almost never dismiss complicated text as mumbo-jumbo. Today is an exception, and Voice or chatter? is an apt title for the recent research report form MAVC. This research...

Evidence on social accountability programs

…social accountability processes almost always lead to better services, with services becoming more accessible and staff attendance improving. They work best in contexts where the state-citizen relationship is strong, but they can also work in contexts where this is not the case. In the latter, we found that social accountability initiatives are most effective when citizens are supported to...

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...

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