research links w25 – 17


From the duh desk: 
A white paper from Cornell Law reviews e-government and rulemaking processes in the US, to find that an institutional “culture of risk adverseness” is much more obstructive to e-participation than is a lack of technological solutions.

What difference does it make?:
An article in Telecommunications Policy documents how mobiles have dramatically reshaped the political communication ecology in Ghana and deepened civic engagement, without affecting “the fundamental structures of political power and the levers of control.” Things look slightly better in a series of research briefs on open data and OGP processes produced by @ITforChange and @AllVoicesCount. The briefs describe incremental progress in all three countries, with significant reservations. Despite increasingly progressive open data practice and policy in the Philippines, for example, “the benefits to individual democratic citizenship are far more conclusive than the benefits to democracy as a whole.” Similarly, the increasingly participatory and inclusive nature of Uruguay’s OGP action plans are described as “gradually modifying” governance processes, through increased interaction and deliberation (though the research brief provides neither a narrative nor a theory to explain how this might be happening). Most optimistically, the brief on inclusive municipal technologies in Spain describes not only specific instances of “engaged and transformative citizenship,” but a proliferation of knowledge sharing and participatory strategies across the country. Here too however, details are light.

In other news, sorry, democracy does not cause innovationContinue reading “research links w25 – 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.

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