The CEDEM13 Conference on eDemocracy and Open Government in Krems just started, this year with two keynotes from overseas:
Beth Noveck (@bethnoveck) and Tiago Peixoto (@participatory).
We will upload brief summaries of the keynotes and several sections on this blog, later on there will also be slides on slideshare available. Enjoy the conference and your time in Krems!
Tiago Peixoto (World Bank Washington)
“Pessimism of the Intellect and Open Government”
There is a logical fallancy called „argumentum ad novitatem“ meaning that new things are sold to be more appealing, alongside the notion of semantic plasticity: new terms are adapted conveniently without explanation of their real meaning, and narrowly used language can confuse supporters, prevent focus and be the enemy of long term success.
Coming up with new names is no problem per se, however, looking at the field of eParticipation, Peixoto criticised that this term is techo-deterministic, biased, under-theorized and methodologically immature. One task thus would be to connect with the participation field, but beyond the Habermasian. We should also be looking at matters of epistemic democracy instead of theories of crowdsourcing to find out under what circumstances crowds can produce knowledge etc., and at theories that are already there. (going with the pessimism of the intellect, but the optimism oft he will J).
Deliberative fundamentalism might have obscured our view in the field: there has been a huge amount of time and money invested in practising the art of conversation instead of really working on engaging people. There is also a tremendous amount of confusion – looking at the terms like Open Government or open state who propose a certain paradox for most people. Also a lot of people don’t engage in participation opportunities because they perceive it as politics as usual. If they know they’ll have an impact they’ll most likely do though.
Contemporary Western democracies seem to have an underlying layer of changing power structure, meaning that maybe we also have to change the structure of institutions. While we have, at the moment, fragmented voluntary solutions in society and lots of bottom-up innovation, that might feel chaotic and repetitive for a time until we begin to understand better how these models work. Deeply connected to the issue of rethinking power structures is the question how we can engage in less traditional decision making, taking us back to the topic of „crowdsourcing wisely“ as named by Beth Noveck.