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

Random Snark

Updates, commentary, live blogs, cries for help. There’s no telling what will show up in this category.

Sources for civic tech research

Civic tech research is scattered widely across a messy web. Here's what I track to try to keep up to date, with a focus on Google Scholar search terms for academic stuff, research websites that sometimes address civic tech, and civic tech feeds that sometimes reference research.

Snark spring cleaning

There's some changes coming to the snark. Research roundups will be topical and episodic rather than comprehensive and regular. This will open bandwidth for more research reviews and summaries by request, and more writing about the role of evidence in civic tech design. Lastly, some news and links to articles from my doctoral work on OGP.

The Pickle Post Cont’d

As noted, I’ve been away. Here’s a quick update on some of the pickles I’ve had in my jar. They’re all wrapping up now, which means more snark is en route. The Teaching Pickle I’ve been teaching a class at Georgetown this spring on Technology, Transparency and Accountable Government Under Trump. It’s a mixed grad/undergrad seminar offered at the School of Foreign Service program on Science...

Why No One Cares About Your Stupid Research

Recent reflections about the irrelevance of academic political communication research should help prompt the civic tech community to think critically about why no one is using all the research that gets produced these days. It's time for a frank conversation that's frankly overdue.

Yet another comparative metric on freedom of expression (kind of)

The Expression Agenda (XpA) was just released by Article19. It's rather prettier than most, and nice to see free expression data in something other than a map or a list; but really, do we need this? The metric doesn't contribute any new data, and the visualization is hard to parse. The report buried in the background is more important by far, but likely only for advocacy on global policy.

Mechanism Mapping: a tool for determining when programs can be scaled or adapted

A recent Oxford white paper proposes mechanism modelling as a method to determine when results of policy evaluations should be scaled or adapted to other contexts. This is an compelling contribution to ongoing debates about external validity of RCTs, more importantly, it's a simple and useful tool for thinking about when and how civic tech programs work across different contexts.

Evidence cultures in ICT4D and humanitarianism

@techladylaura argues for installing a culture for evidence in ICT4D and suggests that we look to the humanitarian sector for inspiration on doing so. I don't think that's helpful. We need better stories about how evidence actually helps.

The State of Formal Transparency Research, a Civic Tech Iceburg

@allvoicescount is having their final learning event this week, and starting to draw conclusions from some of their research outputs. This seems like a good time to be consistently be reminding ourselves about all the complementary research on the same issues. There’s a tremendous amount of research being produced behind the ivory curtain. Presumably, we don’t have time to read it, or...

Governance beyond elections: how considering US political crises helps bridge the gap between disciplines and methodologies

…it is critical that we look beyond the conventional focus on elections, campaign finance reform, and voting rights. There is no question that these are critical areas of concern, and necessary preconditions for meaningful democracy reform. But these areas are also well-studied and understood by many of us in the field. In this report, we hope to highlight some of the other dimensions that...

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