Transparency and access to information, new ways of interacting with government and democratic institutions, and Internet-based, decentralized grassroots activism have caused profound changes to the way states are run and society expected to function. Social media and new dimensions of online social activity, including individual and collective content generation, collaboration and sharing as well as the emergence of spontaneous multilevel networks change our understanding of how to run countries and companies. Services provided by public and private organisations have increased citizens’ independence and flexibility, but at the same time allow for more control. Now we have reached the point where we need to look at what the ideas, promises and suggestions have brought and why some projects have failed to reach the aims. Have aims and expectations been set too high? Or is the question how we define success (and failure)? Has the role of technology been overemphasised?
These are some of the questions and topics we would like to discuss at the 2013 Conference. CeDEM13 critically analyses present and future developments in e-democracy and open government.
Some of our #cedem12 afternoon Sessions / Main Hall:
Bringing Citizens’ Opinions to Members of Parliament (Ruxandra Geana, Steve Taylor, Timo Wandhoefer)
With the EU-project WeGov Timo Wandhoefer introduced a toolset that allows policy makers taking advantage of citizen opinions on different topics. Searching for a special topic WeGov should allow policy makers to collect, aggregate, analyze and present inputs from citizens within most social networks by using visualization technologies. As a special challenge for using WeGov Wandhoefer mentioned respecting privacy.
The necessity of metadata for open linked data and its contribution to policy analyses (Anneke Zuiderwijk, Keith Jeffery, Marijn Janssen)
Anneke Zuiderwijk from the University of Technology, The Netherlands started the session by introducing the topic like the gaining importance of Open governmental data and for an example the EU-Project Engage (www.engage-project.eu – “An Infrastructure for Open, Linked Governmental Data Provision towards Research Communities and Citizens”). The importance of Linked open data (LOD) was leaded to Metadata, which are part of the LOD-process.
After the official opening by Danube University’s vice chancellor Viktoria Weber, chairs Noella Edelmann and Peter Parycek started the conference with interesting facts (like a 50% rejection rate, our current JeDEM Call for Papers and Michal Sachs‘ working desk). The first keynote Ralph Schroeder (UK) is specialising inhow knowledge is changing through the internet and the sociology of advancing (online) knowledge. Old wine in new bottles or revolution?
Keynote 1: The Internet, Science, and Transformations of Knowledge (Ralph Schroeder, Oxford Internet Institute, UK)
Ralph Schroeder mentioned that there is not too much research in Austria in the area. We do have @cyberscientist Michael Nentwich though who is specialising in science 2.0 and the usage of the internet in research – he has published a book called “Cyberscience 2.0“. So how have things changed? (From Web 2.0 to Big Data).
One of the things we need to look at is a good definition. e-Research can be defined as distributed and collaborative digital tools and data for knowledge production. Besides a good definition, a model capturing digital transformation of research is needed.
Science was always driven by machines, with the internet driving social sciences today. From the organisational part, we have research technologies/machines where people are gathering around. Whilst in the humanities we have patterns in words, numbers, images and sounds, social sciences are dependend on statistics, image analysis or mapping. The Oxford Internet Institute has been doing work on many different cases from literature to biotechnology asking the question what sort of transformation can be observed. One example of crowdsourcing techniques in science was “Galaxy Zoo” where students had to classify galaxies according to their shapes – a task at which the human brain is better than even the most advanced computer. Happy classifying!
A popular case is e-research in Sweden, a country with a major e-research initiative. Sweden displays a use of population data in a transparent society with high trust between people, authorities and researchers. Another important aspect in science nowadays is who links to view and generally, visibility of research. A computational way forward in literature is developing networks and maps, e.g. of characters – the question here is to what extent we would like to advance this kind of research.