The University of Vienna has a new report on far-right attacks on the press, a concept they sketch to include legal action, abuse of power and online abuse. The report describes a delicate relationship between the rise of far-right nationalism/populism and declines in the quality of European democracy. Meanwhile ‘s new report on Media Manipulation only describes the tactics and platforms that “far-right groups” are using to manipulate media, but the social and economic factors that make traditional media vulnerable.
A survey of Chinese localities suggests that “technology competence, top management support, perceived benefits, and citizen readiness significantly influence assimilation of social media in local government agencies.” And globally it doesn’t seem to be going well, at least in terms of responsive web design. Global research suggests that government websites still suck on mobiles. Or more carefully put: “The results show that only 0.03% of government websites comes close to adhere to mobile web best practices (MWBP) guidelines with compliant rate greater than 80%.” But every little bit counts. Even when government’s are lackadaisical on social media, having a Facebook page can still spur citizen engagement, at least according to a study of 18 months of communications in La Paz, Mexico. Continue reading “research links w 19 & 20-17”
Politically marginalized groups have less access to the internet, worldwide. This shocker based on network measurements over 8 years and identification of politically relevant groups as defined by the Ethnic Power Relations (EPR).
The relationship between online and offline activism is messy, according to a survey of 1023 adolescents from five Balkan countries, while a year-long study in Uganda and Kenya documents ways that citizen-generated data can be used to improve service delivery and policy, but finds that relationships matter, and that measurement is hard.
Why governments implement e-participation: Governments are most willing to implement e-participation schemes when they enjoy strong ICT infrastructure and human capital, according to a review of archival data from 153 countries (pulled from UN E-Gov surveys and the World Bank’s Development and Governance Indicator sets from 2010-2012). Most interestingly, quality of governance did not positively correlate with willingness to implement e-participation, and the authors suggest that advocates should accordingly push for better ICT infrastructure and human resources, “to move up the ladder of e-government maturity.” Also worth noting, willingness to conduct e-consultations was the only form of willingness negatively associated with e-government maturity. On this last point, the authors speculate is because governments are afraid that consultative processes will slow down e-government processes.
Continue reading “research links w 12- 17”
#participationwashing? Participatory mechanisms promise to empower the marginalized, and can provide the illusion of power, but an ethnographic study on development processes in Boston shows how participation can simply reinforce existing power dynamics: “residents appear empowered, while officials retain ultimate decision-making authority.” Worse than that, a (peer reviewed but unpublished?) article on Vietnam demonstrates how e-government is not e-democracy, and authoritarian states can digitize just as well as anyone else, while G20 countries are breaking promises to release anti-corruption data, according to a report from the Web Foundation, which notes the quality of what they do release isn’t that great either.
So how to make government more responsive? Put the mayor on Twitter says a social network analysis of citizen-state social media interaction in Seoul, Korea. Meanwhile, a new research report from MAVC supports the common assumption that crowdsourced information is inherently political, due in no small part to the behavior and interaction of crowdsourcing infomediaries, which is itself messy, while a survey of 57 Swiss legislators suggests that making lawmakers argue on the basis actual performance evidence changes the way they budget, but also increases polarization. Continue reading “research links w8-17”
What a week…
Papers & Findings
Political tech: A survey of Swedish NGOs (n=907) suggests that civil society needs lots of human resources to use social media effectively in campaigns, which raises the bar for entry, and strengthens an elite cohort of civil society organizations. Tech was shown to directly help voters, however, as new research strengthens the claim that information apps for voters increase electoral participation, based on electoral data sets from 12 countries and a randomized field experiment during the 2013 Italian parliamentary elections. An online field experiment with San Fransisco residents (n=140,000) also suggests that people who vote are more likely to engage in other forms of political participation, or at least more likely to open NGO surveys.
Thinking about cities, a study of 65 mid-to-large size US cities suggest that data analytics practices are wide spread, and that leadership attention, capacity and external partners are the primary factors determining whether cities engage with big data. A researcher from International Data Corporation (whoa) compares three prominent models for evaluating the implementation of smart cities, and suggests how city managers should merge them. Continue reading “research links w 7-17”
Papers & Findings
Using the internet leads to civic engagement. Sometimes. Kind of. This according to structural equation analysis of US college survey data (n=2000), which finds “both positive and negative effects” of internet use on engagement patterns (students who share political opinions online tend to have less political conversations offline) but also identifies “feedback loops” between online and offline engagement activities (the effects of offline activity on online activity being slightly stronger than the other way around), and online info-gathering as having particular predictive power for engagement, both online and off.
Crowdsourcers, microtaskers and distributed team wranglers, choose your platforms wisely. Online groups do not display “collective intelligence.” This based on a replication of the 2010 study that demonstrated collective intelligence among groups, but using online groups. The likely explanation is that collective intelligence relies on social sensitivity of group members rather than individual intelligence, and that social sensitivity in turn relies on social cues absent in the type of online group-work tested in this study.
Open data enthusiasts and civic techies are good at exploiting norms around #open for mobilization, but “open data intermediaries lack a shared culture and political understandings necessary for broader and more impactful action,” with “exceedingly fragmented” perspectives on what data can and should do. This from work with focus groups in a mid-sized US city. Continue reading “research links w 6-17”
Papers & Findings
The world is ending. The 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index finds links between corruption and inequality, and notes falling scores for countries around the world. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index is titled Revenge of the “deplorables”, and notes a worsening of the worldwide “democratic recession” in 2016.
Civic techs. What are the most important characteristics for civic apps? Low threshold for use, built in feedback, and visible change and engagement across users. This according to a paper presented at a recent Cambridge conference. Meanwhile, research on Twitter use in the 2016 Ugandan elections finds that the social media platform “provides minority groups important access to public space otherwise denied on traditional media platforms,” and a Yale study suggests that city use of citizen reporting platforms correlate with lower levels of crime, potentially due to increased social cohesion, though the authors are careful not to assert a causal relationship. Continue reading “research links w 4/17”
Papers and Findings
A cross-disciplinary team of researchers has developed an NLP method that can predict judgements in the European Court of Human Rights with 79% accuracy, based on an analysis of case documents. AI to replace judges? Perhaps. More comforting is their conclusion that this finding supports the theory of legal realism, “suggesting that judicial decision-making is significantly affected by the stimulus of the facts.”
100 Stories: The Impact of Open Access. That’s the bombastic title of a forthcoming paper focused on public access to scientific research, aiming to change “how we talk about the impact of open access.” They do indeed present 100 stories, but in short format and not of “impact” per se. The bar for inclusion is unsurprisingly low. An example (in full) from the category of advancing innovation:
“New patents matched against University’s patent portfolio Iowa State University patents have been downloaded over 16,000 times by 275 institutions. 35% of the patent downloads have been from high-profile corporations such as IBM (33), Unilever (11), Dow-Corning (7), Hewlett-Packard (6), and Deere & Co (5).”
Also, it’s rife with depressing word clip art charts.
Continue reading “research links w 43-44”