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

Click bait for accountability pundits: this month’s most misleading blog title

This blogpost describes an MAVC learning event, which in turn identified “7 streams of tech-enabled change that have proven to be effective in pursuing accountable governance.” Those seven streams are listed below, and while they represent a useful typology of tech for accountability programming, they do not represent activities that connect governments with their citizens.

Why do governments do civic tech and open government? (a mini lit review)

The civic tech and open government community spends a fair amount of energy persuading government counterparts to get in the game, measuring how well they do, and encouraging them to do more and better. There seems to be based on a general assumption that doing so works best when appealing to government incentives, either to make their work easier, to increase their legitimacy or to get on the...

The problem with the problem with input transparency

This isn’t about research or methods, so I’ll be brief. Cass Sunstein, US policy veteran and eminent scholar, recently released a draft article distinguishing between input and output transparency, suggesting that arguments are weaker for the former, and offering reasons why input transparency might often not be a good thing.  (To grossly oversimplify: there are too many inputs to policy-making...

Crimes against data, talk by Andrew Gelman

Andrew Gelmen gives a great talk on how data gets abused in research and politics. He goes a bit into the statistical weeds at times with T & P values and the like, but he’s also a pleasure to listen to. And he gives some great examples of both academics and public figures that either “treat statistics as a means to prove what they already know, or as hoops to be jumped through...

Quick Note: Using the Rhetoric of Civic Tech

There’s a recurrent obsession with self-naming and differentiation in international thinking  about how technology can facilitate some kind of betterness (nice overviews here and here). Part of this is likely about fashion, funding and social prominence, but there’s also legitimate concerns about how our labels impact “the field”’s popular salience or ability to learn. For me, the greatest...

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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