CEDEM11 Day 2

Welcome to Day 2, we hereby confirm that we survived the wine, Kaiserschmarren and festival. Just a reminder: pictures of the conference can be found on FlickR, group name: Cedem11. There are also already a lot of slides to be found at CEDEM11.

Join our Twitter conversation with #cedem11.

Sara Tavazzi, et. al., Assisted Access Points to Services (and Internet)

The presentation was about interenet access initiatives in Tuscany. The PAAS network was born in 2005 as a reagional initiative to guarantee access to information, e-services and e-participation. Relevant goals were to promote digital citizenship and digital rights. These access points are very different from internet points: There is an assistance and the points are specialicing in different target groups, e.g. migrants. At this stage, this project relies on voluntary work. Volunteers can open it whenever, e.g. in the evening.

Francesco Molinari, Institutionalising eParticipation in Europe

For the eParticipation Preparatory Actio millions of money were given, 20 Mio. Euros that is. That’s 200 Euros per citizen engaged especially dedicated to electronic participation. Molinari started from the conclusions 🙂 After the wave of demonstration projects funded under the Preparatory Action, it is important to take this forward. So how do we instituionalise eParticipation?

The definition of Institutionalisation is that of a process of embedding something (for example a concept, social role, a particular value or model of behaviour). An example of institutionalisation is the Parterre project with six pilots in 5 EU countries. Drivers for institutionalisation here were the legislative framework (urban planning, or the digitisation of public participation as set in the Aarhus Directive 2003). A further option is the development of business models, especially in times of crisis. The second example  Periphèria seeks to complement the usual thunnel of innovation and to join the usual way of innovation with an open appraoch called “Living Labs”.

The idea presented here hightlighted the importance of institutional change. Another proposal was the development of an observatory of European eDemocracy Trends and a pan-European eDemocracy forum. Molinari is putting together a writing community and book on these issues and can be contacted for further information.

Rickard Mikaelsson, Elin Wihlborg, Challenges to local e-democracy

“This is a case study of a failure”. I love this introduction as it highlights that we need to learn from unsuccessful examples. So why and when does eParticipation fail?

As a political scientist, Mikaelsson looks at politics (and power) as social phenomena. Formal democratic organisations (or local elites) try to invite people to democracy in different ways based on the basic idea of empowerment. Botkyrka, a southern part of the Stockholm region, has a long tradition of acting differently. The initiative presented was called “e-dialogue”. The aim of this paper is to discuss the threats that made eDemocracy fail in Botkyrka municipality.The case study identified four strong threats:

  • the limits of technology as the way of doing (also see the theory of Governmentality)
  • lack of issues
  • lack of real influence
  • weak sense of community

As for the weak sense of community factor, there is no common online community. In this case there was, additionally, a weak local real community. There is no single reason for the failure of this e-dialogue, but questions remain, especially whether this is a problem of the “e” or democracy. I personally think that communities can be easily initiated by the “e” factor by creating special interest spaces for likeminded people. What happens thereafter might rather be a question of social issues or institutionalisation of the contents created in these communities.

After lunch on sunny terraces, we have two more keynote speakers coming up.

Elke Löffler, How citizens can activate the state through new technologies

Non of the participants of the conference belives that their country has reached the area of collaborative governance that has been identified from early 2000. Is there any level beyond that that is not yet advanced anough in, e.g. Open Government. Some of these questions were also asked to public officials, for instance how important the role of the citizens of public service already is. As for the level of user-involvement in Europe, we are already half-road. The UK comes before Germany in this case (whilst in football they always loose :))

Young people are interested in sex and rock and rock’n roll; and officialese has nothing to do with a language

The potential of co-production is very visible when looking at how many citizens are willing to do more: 48% are willing to do more (a few hours a month). Example 1 presented is stradanove.net, example 2: Berlin-Lichtenberg (a multi-channel interface for suggestions and voting). Here some users didn’t know what officials wanted from them because of the special language (officialese) used 🙂 Example 3: co-deliver (community speed watcher where citizen speed watchers work in teams 2 hours a week to support police). Case 4 is co-access, e.g. the evaluation of services by people, and case 5 co-funding. All of this is called co-production in the UK, a term that is starting to become an established term in marketing. The role of new technologies in the changeing relationship of the state and citizens lies in setting lower barriers, enabling the public sector to listen to the “silent majority”. However, there is the risk of abuse and still uncertainty – but let’s get real: what can we control in 2011 anyways?

Stefan Gehrke, How pricing PSI may ruin innovation

Data.gov and Data.uk showed what works on a national level. Civil society and open data supporters merged to raise the importance of these topics on the political agenda. The goals of these movements were clear, unclear is the “how” of publishment: Should there be payment models or should all data be free in a sense that it complies with the 8 Open Data principles? (Actually, there are even 10 in the meantime :)). Gehrke does not see new jobs created by Open Data in the moment as we’re now in a time where a lot of things are tested out and done by activists. How can we accelerate this transition stage? Firstly, you have to show that it works and secondly, you have to find the change agents. Opendata-showroom.org shows what Open Data can do.

Closing Session (Peter Parycek, Manuel Kripp)

Storify.com of Peter Parycek

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