Today saw the beginning of the biennial conference on Internet, Politics and Policy, convened by the Oxford Internet Institute (University of Oxford) and OII-edited academic journal Policy and Internet. This year’s conference theme is Crowdsourcing for Politics and Policy. Skimming over some papers and abstracts, here are some of my first (and rather superficial) impressions:
- Despite the focus of the conference, there are few papers looking at an essential issue of crowdsourcing, namely its potential epistemic attributes. That is, when, why and how “the many are smarter than the few” and the role that technology plays in this.
- In methodological terms, it seems that very little of the research presented takes advantage of the potential offered by ICT mediated processes when it comes to i) quantitative work with “administrative” data and ii) experimental research design.
- On the issue of deliberation, it is good to see that more people are starting to look at design issues, slowly moving away from the traditional fixation on the Habermasian ideal (I’ve talked about this in a presentation here).
- It seems that the majority of the papers focus on European experiences or those from other developed countries. At first, this is not surprising given the location of the conference and the resources that researchers from these countries have (e.g. travel budget). Yet, it may also suggest limited integration between North/South networks of researchers.
With regard to the last point above, it appears that there is a bridge yet to be built between the community of researchers represented by those attending this conference and the emerging community from the tech4accountability space. There’s lots of potential gain for both sides in engaging in a dialogue and, as importantly, a common language. The “Internet & Politics” community would benefit from the tech4accountability’s focus – although sometimes fuzzy – on development outcomes and experiences that emerge from the “South”. Conversely, the tech4accountability community would benefit a great deal by connecting with the existing (and clearly more mature) knowledge when it comes to the intersection of ICT, politics and citizen engagement.
Needless to say, all of the above are initial impressions and broad generalizations, and as such, may be unfair. The OII biennial conference remains, without a doubt, one of the major conferences in its field. You can view the full program of the conference here. I have also listed below in a simplified manner the links to the available papers of the conference according to their respective tracks.
Track A: Harnessing the Crowd
Experiments on Crowdsourcing Policy Assessmen
A Case Study in Modelling Government-Citizen Interaction in Facebook
The potential of Participedia as a crowdsourcing tool for comparative analysis of democratic innovations
Crowd Capital in Governance Contexts
Analyzing Crowd Discussion Towards a more complete model to measure and explain online deliberation
Predicting Events Using Learning Algorithms on Micro Blog Data
A Crowdsourcing Approach to Identify Common Method Bias and Self-Representation
Hate Speech, Machine Classification and Statistical Modelling of Information Flows on Twitter
Internet-mediated cooperative norm setting in the university
Monopsony and the Crowd: Labor for Lemons?
Online labour markets – leveling the playing field for international service markets?
TRACK B: Policy and Government
The Neo-Humanitarians: Assessing the Credibility of Organized Volunteer Crisis Mappers
Let The Users Be The Filter? Crowdsourced Filtering To Avoid Online Intermediary Liability
Regulating Distributed Peer-Production Infrastructures
Population as Auditor of an Election Process in Honduras: VotoSocial
Crowd-sourcing corruption: some challenges, some possible futures
Vertical crowdsourcing: The discourses of activity and the governance of crowds in emergency situations
TRACK C: Engaging the Crowd
What does crowdsourcing legislation entail for the participants? The Finnish case of Avoin Ministeriö
Let the crowd decide? Crowdsourcing ideas as an emerging form of multistakeholder participation
The question of technologically mediated civic political participation reformulated
Discussing Germany’s Future: The Evaluation of Federal Online Citizen Participation
Reprogramming power through crowdsourcing: time, space and citizenship in crowdsourcing for law in Finland
Crowdsourcing as Reflective Political Practice: Building a Location-based Tool for Civic Learning and Engagement
Civic crowdfunding as a marketplace for participation in urban development
Voices in the Noise: Crowdsourcing Public Opinion using Urban Pervasive Technologies