research links w 21-17

Findings

E-government projects are more successful when formal decision-making processes include stakeholders and actively manage risk, according to a survey of  Swedish national government agencies and municipalities (N=550). Meanwhile, @timdavies is coauthor on a paper in Science & Technology Studies that tracks how data standards influence bureaucratic processes for opening government data. The paper warns that standards can in some ways obstruct actual engagement with users, and puts a useful focus on people in institutions just trying to get things done.

Mixed findings on social media effects this week. Chinese participants in political discourse on Weibo experience that discourse as deliberative, despite the interactions being “mostly non-dialogical and non-creative in nature, and characterised by homophily and polarisation.” (New study, n= 417). In the US, social media played a definitive role in determining how the Tea Party negotiated it’s identity and relationship with the Republican party in the course of Trump’s rise to power. Not in the least, it allowed for quick differentiation of activist perceptions on appropriate degrees of openness, which seem to correspond with political objectives and conceptions of political efficacy. This is described by a new paper in Social Media + Society (not to be confused with New Media and Society, I recently made that mistake > facepalm), which offers a fascinating case, without clearly actionable findings.

Continue reading “research links w 21-17”

research links w 19 & 20-17

Findings

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 @datasociety‘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”

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 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”

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 digital media penetration and demand are part of the complex processes that do. These findings confirmed by new replication research comparing data on 72 countries from 2004-2014.

E-government and open budget practices correlate strongly with good governance and anti-corruption, according to panel data on 48 countries from 2004-2015, reviewed by Turkish researchers in a Romanian journal. At least that’s my best reading, the authors’ English isn’t great, and their prose actually seems to consistently argue that the existence of these comparative indices leads to less corruption. Continue reading “research links w5-17”

research links w42

 

Papers / Findings

  • Citizen engagement in rulemaking — evidence on regulatory practices in 185 countries (from the World Bank). TL;DR: opportunities for engagement are greatest in developed countries with strong regulatory systems, as are the use of ex post ante impact assessments. Paper includes an incredibly brief literature review and the study itself is based on e-questionnaires (word docs, expert perception only, no data on actual participation), which was sent to 1,500 individuals in 190 countries. The researchers also conducted follow up interviews for clarification, but there is no information on how many questionnaire responses were received. Most strikingly, the report advances a composite scoring mechanisms for engagement in rulemaking, for application across all country contexts. It’s clunky, with 4 scoring options for most metrics, each of which beg a million questions about comparability and the applicability of the scores to individual political contexts. I’d love to read some reflections on the challenges in actually applying this. Methods and questionnaire available here.
  • User Research on UK parliamentary data from the ODI. Contains 4 detailed recommendations plus user journeys, but very sparse info on the methods or users interviewed. Also, @ODIHQ, stop using Scribd, we’ve been through this.

Continue reading “research links w42”