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.

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...

Click bait for accountability pundits: this month’s most misleading blog title

This blogpost describes an MAVC learning event, which in turn identified “7 streams of tech-enabled change that have proven to be effective in pursuing accountable governance.” Those seven streams are listed below, and while they represent a useful typology of tech for accountability programming, they do not represent activities that connect governments with their citizens.

Designing useful civic tech research at scale: why methods matter

The Hewlett Foundation has asked for help in crowdsourcing research design for citizen reporting on public services. This is great; it’s a fantastic way to design useful research, and shows that Hewlett is maintaining the strong commitment to evidence and rigorous question asking that is so important to this field. The post has already generated some useful discussion, and I’m sure that they are...

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.

The (other) problem with scholarship on digital politics

Update: My review of Analytical Activism is up at Information, Communication & Society (gated). Here’s a free e-print and the preprint. 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...

New evidence on the domestic policy influence of global performance assessments

Using a multilevel linear model to account for the hierarchical structure of our survey data, we find evidence that performance assessments yield greater policy influence when they make an explicit comparison of government performance across countries and allow assessed governments to participate in the assessment process. This finding is robust to a variety of tests, including country-fixed and...

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


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