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

Research Links (w 36-37)

Papers / Findings Dont trust the crowd! Paper in PLOS-One finds that the subjective experiences of contributors to crowdsourced map-making are influenced by their nationality and degree of expertise. Moreover-surprise-this influences what they report to the map. Data sampled from geowiki, methods a bit too technical for me to assess. New empirical analysis in Administration and Society shows...

New Research Guide on Open Data and Accountabiltiy

The GSDRC is a resource centre that synthesises and summarizes research for use in international development programming. It’s a great initiative for making scholarly work relevant and useful in the real world, and last week they released a new topic guide on open data and accountability. I was excited to take a look, as I’ve previously found their guides and responses to research help desk...

Methods for Measuring Open Data

Back in 2014, the Web Foundation and the GovLab at NYU brought together open data assessment experts from Open Knowledge, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, and elsewhere to explore the development of common methods and frameworks for the study of open data. It resulted in a draft template or framework for...

Measurement always goes bad

What Flowers found was that even the best performance measurement systems tend to ossify. In 2010, 11 state and local public interest associations joined together to form the National Performance Management Advisory Commission. In its report, A Performance Management Framework for State and Local Government, the commission singled out Nashville, Tenn.’s Results Matter system as an example of a...

Research Links w 35 (back from summer)

So I’m back in the office and finally done wading through all the interesting stuff that piled up in August, but there’s too much to put here, so popping right into September… Papers/Findings A comparison of FOI requests in 11 jurisdictions concludes that everything depends and that comparison is hard (I agree), and references some common indicators for measuring implementation...

Research Links (w25-28/16)

4 weeks’ worth, yikes. #summer Papers/Findings Citizen Engagement FTW! The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory just released a “virtual issue” on citizen engagement, collecting the most important articles with that focus in that journal since 1995, to make some sense of how citizens actually engage with governance across the policy cycle. The editors’ take...

What I Learned about Digital Methods

I just attended the digital methods summer school, hosted by University of Amsterdam initiative of the same name. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but first had the opportunity as a phd candidate. It was worth the wait, and here’s a quick summary of what I learned about the methods, the tools, and the course. The methods “Digital methods” could mean a lot of different things, but...

Against the civic tech sector

Stefaan G. Verhulst recently offered some suggestions on how to “build a civic tech field that can last and stand the test of time.” Stefaan is a smart guy, connected, well informed, and his suggestions make smart sense of a messy landscape. But they also accept a fundamental premise which tends to go unchecked in international discussions about civic tech. His introduction: …we are yet to...

The Permanent Staycation

I just returned from the digital methods summer school (post forthcoming). It was the first time I’ve attended an international event for phd students, and in the inevitable dinners and drinks that followed long workshop days, I learned a lot about how phd programs differ. One thing that surprised me, was how consistently the most thoughtful and productive people seemed to describe the leisurely...

Research Links (w24/16)

Papers/Findings Making All Voices Count this week reported on their recent Learning Event, in a document that collects some useful schematics and tools for thinking about civic tech programming, and also captured some of the practitioner thinking about what it all means. A certain scepticism and sense of let-down has been expressed by some observers, but this may have more to do with the way...

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

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