Tom Steinberg asked me for a list of my favorite recent reads. So here’s the first part of a rather disorganized list of readings and other resources, with sporadic comments on why I like some of them. The list is heterogeneous in terms of subject, method and quality. In my opinion, the common denominator among the different resources is their relevance for those working at the intersection of participation and technology.
ON COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
There is definitely a lot of bad reading out there about collective intelligence. Indeed, many of the discussions and papers out there are nothing more than half-baked re-readings of ideas and concepts well established in the field of epistemic democracy. But there are a few exceptions. Acquainting myself with Hélène’s awesome work in the domain was one of the highlights for me in 2012. Here’s a sample:
Landemore, Hélène E., Democratic Reason: The Mechanisms of Collective Intelligence in Politics (April 1, 2011). COLLECTIVE WISDOM: PRINCIPLES AND MECHANISMS, Hélène Landemore and Jon Elster, eds., Cambridge University Press, Spring 2012.
You can find more of Hélène’s work here
Also, if you are interested in high-level talks and discussions about collective intelligence, the videos of conferences below are some of the best things out there:
ON COLLECTIVE ACTION
Bond, R. M., C. J. Fariss, J. J. Jones, A. D. I. Kramer, C. Marlow, J. E. Settle, and J. H. Fowler. 2012. “A 61-Million-Person Experiment in Social Influence and Political Mobilization.” Nature 489: 295–298.
Margetts, Helen Zerlina, John, Peter, Reissfelder, Stephane and Hale, Scott A., Social Influence and Collective Action: An Experiment Investigating the Effects of Visibility and Social Information Moderated by Personality (April 18, 2012).
David Lazer is the co-author of two of these papers. If you don’t know it already, Stuart Shulman’s work is definitely worth checking out. Thamy Pogrebinschi is probably one of the people to look out for in the coming years in the field of participatory democracy.
THE ROI OF CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT:
Largely unknown even among the most enthusiastic participation advocates, there is a growing body of literature in the field of tax morale that links citizen engagement to reduced tax evasion: one of the best cases for the ROI of Open Government. Below is one of the best papers in the field.
And if the subject is the ROI of open government, here’s a paper that links participatory budgeting to reduced infant mortality (and there’s more to be published on that front soon).
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIALS AND OPEN GOVERNMENT
If I were to make any predictions for 2013, I would say we will start to see a growing number of studies using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to assess the validity of claims for transparency and participation. Indeed, some donors in the open government space have already started to ask for RCT evaluations as a project component. Here are a couple of examples of how good studies on the subject would look (IMHO):
Of course, scholars, practitioners and donors should take claims about the awesomeness of RCTs with a good grain of salt (and pepper):
FUN STUFF ON TURNOUT AND ELECTIONS
Gomez, Brad T., Thomas G. Hansford, and George A. Krause. 2007. “The Republicans Should Pray for Rain: Weather, Turnout, and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections.” Journal of Politics 69 (August): 649–63.
This is just the first part of a longer list. I hope to finish a second part soon, focusing – among other things – on the (uneasy) intersection of behavioural economics and participatory democracy.