research links w 12- 17

Findings

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.

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Where’s the beef?

And by beef I clearly mean civic interaction.

I’m in the beginning of a phd, which means swimming in theory and concepts. This can get pretty removed from actual practice, but has led to one surprising question: despite all the field’s rhetoric on responsive government, e-participation and conversational governance, there are very few examples of digital interaction between people and their governments. What’s up with that?

After all, this was one of the earliest ICT unicorns:

Technology possesses no inherent capacities to organise social power. But the qualitatively distinctive feature of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) is their interactive capacity: one which […] changes the relationship of communication in an unprecedented way that could radically impinge upon the process of governing/informing and being governed/informed/uninformed. (Coleman, 1999, 17)

I think we’ve continued to assume that this happens, and sometimes we still think of it as a game changer. We expect that when governments release information or when people produce information, sometimes it has positive consequences. We expect that sometimes this leads to some kind of interaction. But I’m not finding that to be the case in any kind of structured way. And I’ve done some careful digging. Continue reading “Where’s the beef?”