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Articles in "Research"

Dorner illustrates a large number of differences in how successful and unsuccessful participants approach and manage the tasks.  Here is one that particularly stood out for me:

Both the good and the bad participants proposed with the same frequency hypotheses on what effect higher taxes, say, or an advertising campaign to promote tourism in Greenvale [an imaginary city] would have.  The good participants differed from the bad ones, however, in how often they tested their hypotheses.  The bad participants failed to do this.  For them, to propose a hypothesis was to understand reality; testing that hypothesis was unnecessary.  Instead of generating hypotheses, they generated “truths.”[i] [emphasis mine]

How often do we test our hypotheses?  

Many recruiters use recruitment methods that exclude people with low digital skills or limited internet access, such as social media advertising, online registration, online sign up for research events and complex instructions sent in emails and attachments.

Also, the people we really want to reach often exclude themselves. Some are not interested in participating. Some believe we won’t be interested in them: “you want to speak to Bob, he’s the computer expert.” Some are frightened of making mistakes and embarrassing themselves.

This report—the first of two—presents the perspective of California’s public officials. It concludes with practical recommendations emerging from this study and its companion study on civic leaders’ perspectives for how to encourage productive relationships between local officials and the public and expand opportunities for broad sections of the public to meaningfully participate in local decision making.

Metric #1   Single-Topic maps get 3 times the traffic of the traditional Map Portal

Not only do single-topic maps outdraw the map portal at a 3-1 clip, overall web map usage has more than tripled from approximately 25K visits per month to 90K visits a month.  Sal in Public Works may love that he has 55 data layers in a single map interface, your public–not so much.

I recently started to wonder:

“The way online engagement is managed in different states feels different… is it different?”

Turns out the answer is: “yes.”

As I looked through our data, one thing was inexplicable to me: the difference in database sizes (the number of registered participants in the ‘online community’) from state to state AND site to site.

Why were some so much lower than others?

Policy officers are regularly on the move in central government. This presents a challenge for effective consultation, as their knowledge and skills travel with them. In order to begin sharing the skills for great consultations, Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) piloted their first workshop on ‘consultation procedures and principles’ with colleagues.  What can other central government departments learn from running a session like this?

In a refreshing style, rather than asking some seasoned experts on how to advocate on youth issues they asked actual successful youth advocates themselves.

The speakers all had interesting and inspiring stories to tell about their own advocacy projects which carry a lot of useful insights for other would-be youth advocates and the organizations that seek to work with them and to support them.

But what struck me most as a person working on knowledge sharing, with a side interest in transforming the UN, was how relevant some of the key ideas were to our continual discussions on how to improve development organizations themselves.

So what does the evidence about citizen engagement say? Particularly in the development world it is common to say that the evidence is “mixed”. It is the type of answer that, even if correct in extremely general terms, does not really help those who are actually designing and implementing citizen engagement reforms.

This is why a new (GPSA-funded) work by Jonathan Fox, “Social Accountability: What does the Evidence Really Say” is a welcome contribution for those working with open government in general and citizen engagement in particular. Rather than a paper, this work is intended as a presentation that summarizes (and disentangles) some of the issues related to citizen engagement.

NRC survey data identifies types of residents who are the most active or, in some cases, the least vocal. Individuals living in a community for more than 10 years, for example, are about three times more likely to attend public meetings and contact elected officials than new residents. Among racial groups, Asians tend to have the lowest participation rates. Low-income residents also aren’t as active as those earning six-figure incomes.