Another week has flown by, and the weekend is so close we can almost touch it!

Like every Friday, we’re here to cheer up your day with our hand-picked selection of interesting reads of the week. Everything you need to know about civic tech, delivered to your inbox in bite-size bits and pieces. 

This week, we’ve got a lot of news up our sleeves. We’ll take you from Brexit over bitcoin to fake news and back again. Missed our previous selection? Check out our blog for more.

1. “How blockchain can be valuable for democracies (but not by replacing paper voting)” by E. Gazali for Settlemint

Indonesia’s elections are probably the most complicated in the world. With 193 million voters spread over 17,000 islands, votes and vote counts have to travel a long way before they are counted in the national election. Counting the votes traditionally takes weeks, and this increases tension and pressure on the electoral process. That’s where blockchain comes in.

This article explores how blockchain technology could eliminate this kind of electoral problems. “If we can use such a blockchain database on a large scale, we can make sure that all votes are counted within 6 to 12 hours after the polling stations are closed, and thus avoid both political tension and the possibility of votes being falsified,” states Gazali. In this sense, the use of blockchain could reinforce the democratic value of the electoral process, and even save lives.

A must-read for blockchain-believers and anyone who’s interested in using technology to guarantee stronger and safer elections.

2. “Government support is a key factor for civic technology” by R. Rumbul for Open Access Government

Civic tech is growing so much that it is rapidly entering the mainstream. What was still an ‘outsider’ thing a mere decade ago, has now become widely used as a way to engage citizens across the globe. And gradually, governments are starting to warm up to the idea, too.

But for civic tech to reach its fullest potential, it requires a couple of circumstances that can be created by governments. Citizen awareness and funding support are obvious factors, but there’s more. From infrastructure to transparent data, this article unravels how government support increases the quality and democratic value of civic tech.

A must-read for government officials or civic tech-users in all corners of the world.

3. “Canada’s digital minister: How open government can fight fake news” by J. Murray for Apolitical

We’ve never been more connected, and that is a positive evolution. But it also means that it’s never been easier to spread fake news. And the stakes are high because spreading false information can ultimately lead to the decline of democracy and the establishment of authoritarian rule.

A solution could be something called ‘open government’, which claims to “put citizens at the heart of democracy.” Canada, for example, will now be ‘open by default’, which means that citizens can access government information and data without having to ask for it. It flags a radical change in the structure of democracy itself, as “being open by default gives citizens the tools they need to monitor the workings of government so that they can hold us responsible for our actions.

A must-read for governments of every degree of openness.

4. “Where democracy goes to die: how Nigel Farage copied Italy’s digital populists” by P. Gerbaudo for NewStatesman

The Brexit party currently reaches 27% in the polling rates for the European Elections. But can this even be considered a party if it does, for example, not have a single party member?

This reminds us of similar kinds of “business firm parties” that emerged in Southern Europe in the mid-70s. These “parties” were more about maintaining their own grip on power than actually taking a stance on delivering social objectives, Gerbaudo says. And if we look at Farage’s endeavour, it seems to closely resemble this kind of self-serving enterprise.

This article shines a light on this situation and further investigates its political integrity. A must-read for anyone who’s interested in European politics, has an opinion on the Brexit, or wonders what makes a party.

5. “Govtech: 10 European startups that are making governments more efficient and democratic” by B. Trajkovska for EU Startups

In this article, EU Startups offers a list of 10 European startups that aim to revitalize democracy through the use of digital tools. We’re very flattered to be one of them, and to be a part of a revolutionary wave that impacts citizens and services across Europe.

That’s it for our weekly catch-up! Ready for more? Check out our previous selections on the blog, download our brand-new comprehensive e-guide on participatory budgeting, or contact our experts to get started with digital participation in your city!

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