From User Experience: The Magazine of the User Experience Professionals Association
In an attempt to chip away at this problem, platforms that attempt to encourage people to engage in civic life with government and local communities have been popping up. But how well do they actually engage people? These platforms are often criticized for producing “slacktivists” who are applying the minimum amount of effort possible and not really effecting change. Several of these platforms were evaluated to see how they work and to determine how well they actually promote civic engagement.
From Community Engagement Learning Exchange: A UNC School of Government Blog
One useful way to look at different methods of civic engagement is the division between “thick” and “thin” efforts. In the words of Matt Leighninger, Vice President of Public Engagement at Public Agenda, thick engagement “[enables] large numbers of people, working in small groups, to learn, decide, and act together,” while thin engagement involves people “as individuals rather than in groups.”
I don’t think it’s as simple as thick always being better than thin. Civic engagement is not a slice of cake. In fact, some of the best projects combine both styles of engagement, as I’ll illustrate below.
Felicity talked about our vision in her post back in October and on 25 November the Chancellor announced a significant investment in digital and in Government as a Platform. So we’re forging ahead and we’ve decided to set up a new blog to talk specifically about the shared components and patterns that are being worked on across government.
This is an interesting way to think about technology in general and civic technology specifically – new innovations alter existing power structures, and those of us in the world of civic technology should think carefully about how what we do shifts power. If we care about the long term impact of what we do, then we should focus our efforts on the kinds of things that will create more permanent shifts in power, and more directly benefit those that do not currently have it.
If you’re looking for a city government with a solid open data strategy, the nation’s third-largest city is a good model to look at for best practices. In a recent workshop, Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology encouraged business owners and other residents to explore and play around with the city’s open data portal.