Suddenly, my work project became more interesting :-)

…or embedded into current politics. It often does, being related to new technology, media and political decision making etc. 🙂 I was transcribing qualitative interviews for a university project on electronic participation last night. When I finished the last one at about 7am, the subject suddenly became more significant for current politics due to the EU referendum results. One of the project goals is to evaluate tools for direct democracy, and to find out which democratic processes (from the Austrian referendum/Volksbegehren to other forms of decision-making, co-decision or participation) would be suitable for an electronic or online version – including assessing the user perspective. (more…)

On- plus Offline Elements in Democracy

Recently, Vienna launched an extensively advertised e-participation and discussion platform called Wien will’s wissen (Vienna wants to know) for the referendum in February. By now most of the citizens have already received their ballot papers by mail, but they can also participate in online discussions.

Vienna’s government wonders about citizen’s opinions with an online platform going along with the referendum (Volksbegehren). It is to be seen as an additional information and discussion service for the exchange of ideas between citizens and experts. Online contributions and comments can be made on the topics of the referendum. (Citizens will be asked five questions about prospective decisions of the Viennese government.) Plus, contrary statements of two experts – amongst them bloggers and media experts – referring to one of these questions are published

By registering on the platform with an username and e-mail address everyone is offered the opportunity to submit questions and statements or to comment on the postings of other users. Before going online, all comments are reviewed by editors in order to ensure that people stick to the netiquette.

Implementation of Facebook

The platform is joining the trend of implementating social networks by including the possibility to use an existing Facebook account for comments. Users can use their accounts for uploading videos or pictures related to the five topics. In doing so, people should be persuaded to voice their concerns without having to go through an additional registration process. The selection of the topics of the referendum was based on the orientation on factual issues as opposed to ideological ones.