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

Roundup: strategies for institutionalization in govt, social media activism is stressful, and nobody reads research.

Findings Social media activism is stressful– At least in Pakistan, according to a recent survey (N=237, convenience sample) which found significant correlations between stress levels and political activism on social media. Users of Greece’s national transparency and anti-corruption website say they trust government more since the website was established (web survey n=130, availability...

Roundup: degrees of responsiveness, evidence on smart participation design, how digital mobilization works, civic engagement with the dead

Lots of findings in civic tech research last week. Evidence on how to build open procurement and citizen participation initiatives, field experiments on degrees of responsiveness and accountability workshops gone wrong. New resources on crowdsourced legislative processes and evaluating police accountability, plus insights on citizen policy preferences and lots of cases studies. All of this...

When do global do-gooders influence government behavior? (a mini lit review)

Here’s a long-ranging exploration of the literature on international relations, policy diffusion, public administration, global policy assessments and multi-stakeholder initiatives, where I try to draw some conclusions about what we know and what we don't. I wrap it up by proposing six research questions that could directly inform the design of global do-goodery. There’s a bulleted summary up top.

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.

Roundup: Ugandan evidence on social context theory, all the Kenyan case studies, and dev economists heart India

Last week in civic tech reseach didn't have a lot of findings, but the evidence on social context theory from Ugandan villages is a doosey, with lot's of interesting implications for practice and study. Plus, @AllVoicesCount continued it's steady stream of case studies, there were several learning fora on tech in the health sector, and nerds can't stop thinking about D&D, even when innovating to...

Roundup: the impact of election-tech, 5 years of open data, and RCT threats to children

Findings: tech and elections Comparative research indicates that SMS is the most effective messaging platform for voter mobilization, while Brazilian  research shows a that e-voting has had dramatic effects on both mobilization and enfranchisement. Meanwhile, a US survey suggests that competent poll-workers boost voter confidence that votes would be counted.  Well, yeah. A global poll by the pew...

Last week in civic tech research: rehashing research; the importance of policy entrepreneurs, digital intermediaries and regulatory zombies

Running behind this week, but fortunately things were rather calm. Lots of summaries, stories and teases. The zombie was a high point. #findings nope… #confirmations Policy entrepreneurs are associated with early open data policy adoption and better data portals, according to an empirical analysis of Australian Federal and State Governments. Village level digital intermediaries play a...

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

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