In the afternoon several parallel panels and workshops were running.
E-Democracy and Open Government
Axel Bruns: g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms’ Length from Government
This session was on Government 2.0 and Open Government in Australia. Are g2c and c2c flawed models of participation? For instance, g2c may be mere service delivery, not community consultation and c2c (often only used by the usual suspects) are often too distant from political actors to be recognised although they may generate open and engaged debate. Bruns pointed out the desirable qualities for citizen consultation towards the model g4c2c where governments are an arms’ length supporter of citizen-to-citizen initiatives.
Jacob Svensson: The Expressive Turn of Political Participation and Citizenship in the Digital Age
Doing a PhD in civic communication Svensson wanted to find out why people engage in online participation by looking at the internet as a new arena for citizenship. He took a look at the concept of the political and the expressive as well as power as a discoursive relational. In digital late modernity we are observing a dispersion of cultural frameworks, individualisation processes next to the networked. With the term instrumental rationality we can describe rationality as an instrument for reaching pre-defined purposes or participation as an instrument for self-centered purposes. E-Participation can be seen as communicative rationality. Processes of identification and reflexive self-realisation have to be brought into the discussion of e-participation in order to make participation relevant for citizens.
Marco M. Skoric: Do Facebook and Video Games promote political Participation among Youth? Evidence from Singapore
Places that are usually not associated with the political can be new “third places” for information and participation. Studies done in the US support the link between Facebook use and civic and policitical participation. The situation in Singapore is interesting as we find a fairly new society and arena. The use of social media by civic activists in Singapore has been steadily increasing, e.g. the students protest against censorship in 2008, the Pink Dot event (for gay rights) 2009 and AWARE 2009 (civil women’s rights organisation overtaken by a conservative group). A lot of these things are slowly leaking back online. Skoric presented a survey that measured Facebook usage, games and political participation amongst youngsters. A fairly strong relation between participating online and offline was found, facebook use and video gaming being linked with both online and traditional forms of participation.
Track Network Society
Francesco Molinari: Social Networking and Climate Change
Jan Linhart: Participation as active citizenship. Bridging the gap between bottom-up and top-down e-participation approaches
Are we facing a general crisis of democracy? At the moment there’s a lack of transparency and participation that could be seen as a crisis of democracy as well. E-Participation appears as the perfect promise with keywords like crowdsourcing, mass collaboration etc. However, there is already a lot of engagement. Success would be to transfer these forces into e-participation processes. But e-participation at the moment is mainly system-driven resulting in a lack of motivation, although there might be some exeptions (e.g. in the UK). For a deeper and richer debate we have to bring different people together and create synergies between existing approaches.
Cyril Venikanov: Mutual Moderation and Appraisal of Contributions in E-Participation
In the proposed ideal e-participation model, participants register under pseudonyms and obtain digital signature codes that preserve the authorship of their contributions. A well-delimited theme is specified and introductory expert information on the theme is made available. Participants deliberate on the theme in a well-informed way and work out a limited number of final proposals in the end. The system assists participants in finding clusters of similar or compatible contributions and in finding the best contributions in every cluster.
Singara Rao Karna: Business Process Innovation for G-C City eGovernance – Australian City Council eGovernment Case
Workshop: Best Methods for undemocratic e-participation (PEP-NET Workshop by Daniel Jellinek and Hans Hagedorn)
In this funny workshop useful hints for undemocratic methods when doing e-participation projects were presented:
- Pick the topic yourself
- E-Participation exercises should only run in one type of technology
- choose a few people to form the core from among your associates
- allow the rest to self-select from the usual e-democracy geeks
- never use moderation—it’s more democratic that way
- report on the exercise six months later in a deeply-buried pdf
- do not connect online activity with offline political or social activity
In a second step participants came up with their own ideas for undemocratic methods discussing the obstacles that might kill or promote projects.