research links w 17-17

Findings

Power users of civic reporting platforms tend to cluster geographically and disseminate use of platform use in their neighborhoods. This is the main finding of new research on 311 platforms in San Fransisco (surveys, n=5k over 5 yrs), though the title and abstract are misleading, promising insights on “co-production” more generally (the authors reference the distinction, but only to exploit a casual equation), and implying a problem of elite capture. Sigh.

Community  & Resources

Quality standards for open government data? Marta Indulska and Shazia Sadiq think it’s researchers job to push for them. Meanwhile, @eytanadar ‏ makes a strong argument against data exploration without hypotheses (h/t @FlowingData), and @_AndrewYoung announced a new “Opening Governance stream” on the @monkeycageblog, but I wasn’t able to find it on the blog.

Last week was The Impact of Civic Technology Conference (#TicTec), @DanLammerhirt ‏ has some useful reflections. Continue reading “research links w 17-17”

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.

Continue reading “research links w 11-17”

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 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 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”

Research Links w 2-17

Papers & Findings

A large scale citizen survey conducted in 36 Chinese cities found strong correlation between government transparency and citizen perceptions of public service equity. Perceptions of trust are equally important in open data initiatives, but a forthcoming article in Sociology argues that “open government initiatives routinely prize visibility over intelligibility and ignore the communicative basis of trust.” Trust also plays a significant role in Global Innovation Exchange’s sweeping report on the use of ICTs in fighting Ebola, including 9 case studies, and based on 130 interviews. The report’s insights on the “fog of information” are particularly compelling.

Continue reading “Research Links w 2-17”

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 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 would be nice to know more about their “analysis of hundreds of reports, articles, and peer-reviewed academic studies discussing the effectiveness of particular programs.” Presumably they looked at evidence internationally, but there’s no clear distinctions made between different political and cultural contexts…

Meanwhile, an article in the ARPR assesses the implementation of the OGP in the US (OGP didn’t do much to change the way the US does transparency) and Portuguese researchers have proposed a “transparency ontology” to guide the development and implementation of open data initiatives, in order to make them more relevant for citizens. The paper relies on journalists’ role as “information brokers,” which is reflected in their method. They don’t seem to have interviewed any actual citizens.

Globally, the OECD has a new book out summarizing the future of Open Government, while the 2016 UN E-government survey paints a rosy picture. It finds that 90 countries have a portal for open data or services,  148 countries provide at “online transactional services” and “an increasing number of countries are moving towards participatory decision-making.” #devilinthedetails Continue reading “research links w 48-49”