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

A belated summer dump (w 28-36)

So I’ve been away for a whopping 8 weeks, bouncing between holidays,  summer schools, consultancies and moving the fam to DC. Somehow the internet refused to stop while I was gone. So as I get back into the swing of things, here is an abbreviated summary of the summer’s findings in civic tech research, plus a couple of choice weeds and reflections.

research links w8-17

Findings #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...

research links w5-17

Papers & Findings What makes for a strong and democratic public media? According to comparative research on “12 leading democracies,” it’s all about multi-year funding, legal charters limiting gov influence, arms-length oversight agencies and audience councils. Compelling, but not shocking. Similarly, we know that the internet doesn’t drive democracy, but increased...

research links w 4/17

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...

research links w 3/17

Papers & Findings What makes multi stakeholder initiatives for transparency effective? In the case of EITI, it seems to be treating civil society  as equal partners and ensuring that they bring relevant technical skills to the table. This according to doctoral research that also outlines common “pathways to proactive transparency reform.” Would be great to see research testing...

research links w 48-49

Papers and Findings A new Brookings report aims to answer the question “Does Open Government Work?” NBD. Not surprisingly, the report doesn’t provide a definitive answer. It does suggest six structural conditions for open government initiatives to achieve their objectives. The framework is nuanced and useful, but it’s not at all clear how the authors came up with it. It...

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...

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

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