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 11-17

Findings

Voice online:
Twitter advocacy can bypass mainstream media that excludes non-elite voices, according to a study of how #IfTheyGunnedMeDown was used following 2014 police shootings in Ferguson, Missouri. That’s good news for digital advocacy innovators, but important to remember that people don’t feel safe online and don’t understand how their personal information gets used, but most aren’t willing to get trained. This according to survey of “Mozilla community members” (n=30,000+) by the Mozilla Foundation.

All the FOIA researchin the US:
Freedom of information in the US has been suffering in recent years from reduced access to information and increased FOIA denials, and a survey of “336 freedom of information experts” suggests that it is only going to get worse. On the other hand, “data pulled from over 30,000 FOIA requests” by @MuckRock suggests that the US govt is much better at responding to FOIA requests than we tend to think. Digging into the details, US FOIA gets used by business actors more than any other group,  single actors dominate requests from most groups (@MuckRock among news groups, @JudicialWatch among NGOs) and Democratic committees dramatically out-FOIA their Republican counterparts (81/7). These and other fascinating insights in @galka_max‘s analysis of 229,000 requests to 85 government agencies.

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research links w1-2017 (!)

Papers and Findings

A field experiment among county governments in the US last April showed that municipal governments are more likely to fulfill public records requests if they know that their peers already have, suggesting profound implications for peer conformity and norm diffusion in responsive government. A recent commentary in Public Administration Review builds on these insights, to suggest concrete ways in which open data advocates can capitalize on this dynamic (publicize proactive fulfillment, bolster requests by citing prior fulfillment, request proactive fulfillment through feedback channels, request data on fulfillment when all else fails).

Meanwhile, Austrian researchers surveyed users of a citizen reporting platform for municipal public services (n=2,200, city not named, which is problematic for external validity, they call their study an “experiment”), and argue personal and pro-social motivations as the most important drivers of participation, but find no support for the technology acceptance model or demographic characteristics as drivers of participation (though they do note that “the gender divide is disappearing” (2768), so that’s good to know).

Continue reading “research links w1-2017 (!)”

research links w 46-47

Papers and Findings

Autocracy Online: Freedom on the Net 2016 was released, and shows continued declines in internet freedom around the world, with an increase of app censorship. Meanwhile, a paper in Telecommunications Policy argues that autocracies have “caught up” with democracies in terms of internet penetration since 2013, and an article in press argues that moving from electoral to liberal democracy is a process, and in fact uses data from international comparative indices to argue that internet penetration facilitates more censorship and surveillance than liberal democracy (the methods look dubious). As case in point, a Russian case study shows how online voting can be used to open wash, while disempowering political opposition.

Interaction online:  A literature review of research on online participation platforms Continue reading “research links w 46-47”

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?”