Methodical Snark

critical reflections on how we measure and assess civic tech
This is a blog about how the civic tech and accountability field measures its work and its impact. It’s based on a critical perspective, but tries to be more productive than conference snark. It’s an effort to highlight how much work is being done in silos across the academic-NGO divide, to de-mystify important methods and findings, and to call out research that is sloppy or unhelpful. Scroll for the blog roll, or check out the core content types:
WEEKLY RESEARCH ROUNDUP: findings, happenings, and absurdity in civic tech research. 
I read THIS FOR YOU: summaries for those with more interest than time. 
Mini Lit Reviews: when I wonder about something, I check what the research says, and write it up.

Latest stories

Quick Note: Using the Rhetoric of Civic Tech

There’s a recurrent obsession with self-naming and differentiation in international thinking  about how technology can facilitate some kind of betterness (nice overviews here and here). Part of this is likely about fashion, funding and social prominence, but there’s also legitimate concerns about how our labels impact “the field”’s popular salience or ability to learn. For me, the greatest...

Can Millennials Save E-government?

Many analysts (including yours truly, in a book called “Government 2.0”) predicted that by 2016, digital government would already long be a reality. In practice, the “e-gov revolution” has been an exceedingly slow-moving one. Sure, technology has improved some processes, and scores of public services have moved online, but the public sector has hardly been transformed. What initial e-gov efforts...

What’s e-gov got to do with it?

Lots. Emily Shaw posted a great piece on the relevance of e-governance research for civic technology earlier this month. She argues that academic e-government research dwarfs the nearly non-existent academic interest in civic tech (as evidenced by 169,000 vs 185 hits on google scholar), and that civic technologists should care about research on e-government. And in the civic tech world, we can...

Research Links (w20/16)

Papers / Findings Badges are back! There’s invariably at least 1 working group at every collaborative sticky event that proposes a system of badges for internet advocacy tools, data or groups. Almost none get off the ground (Open Integrity Index might remain the most promising), but a new paper (Badges to Acknowledge Open Practices: A Simple, Low-Cost, Effective Method for Increasing...

Research Links ( w19/16)

Papers / Findings Fifty Shades of Open. New paper from @jpom &@robinpeek on all the wacky ways we talk about #open. Breaks the word down into 7 primary tropes. Useful reference point when parsing jargon. MySociety writes about research on FOI requests in the Czech Republic. Their experiment sent 2 FOI requests to 100 agencies via both email and the national Avateli implementation. Quality of...

RIO: new examples of open sharing research data

As a practical contribution to the scholarly discourse on new modes of communicating knowledge, Prof. Cameron Neylon, Centre for Culture and Technology, Curtin University, Australia, and collaborators are to publish a series of outputs and outcomes resulting from their ongoing data sharing pilot project in the open access journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO). Starting with their Grant...

State of research: data visualization

Data visualization is all the rage in advocacy circles. Activists and development orgs are doing it all the time, often without formal mandates or training. This tends to go unquestioned, because  it’s easy to adopt a “good enough” approach to peripheral activities from the trenches of campaigning, and because visualization and design are things that a lot of us like to think...

Building on TICTec: more thinking about research pls

  Last week I joined the Impacts of Civic Technology Conference 2016, a sort of annual mixer for researchers and the civic tech community, organized by MySociety to “promote and share rigorous and meaningful research into online technologies and digital democracy around the world.” The event was good (write ups here, here, here, and here), but notable for being so firmly grounded in the idea...

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

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