Another week has flown by and we’re back with our famous — we’re famous by now, aren’t we? — weekly list of must-reads! 

It’s time for your favourite updates from the world of digital participation, and this week, we’re covering pretty much everything: from govtech and civic tech over government transparency to one teenage girl who’s making the world a better place by just voicing her opinion.

Did you miss our previous selections? No worries! Check them out here and here. Now buckle up, because this is about to be a wild ride!

1. “Can radical transparency increase trust between government and citizens?” By M. Tsungai Zisengwe 

What if government officials would publicly and honestly answer every question they get from journalists or lobbyists? What if they’d publish transcriptions of their internal meetings and make all the information available for everyone to see?

Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang believes wholeheartedly in what she calls ‘radical transparency’. She believes that this kind of openness creates a bond of trust between governments and their citizens, eventually encourages citizen engagement. “Through radical transparency, we create a space where the civil servants can be seen,” says Tang.

What do you think? Should government officials share more with their citizens?

2. ‘Rewiring Democracy: Subconscious technologies, conscious engagement and the future of politics” by M. Leighninger and Q. Moore-Vissing

Technological changes have affected all aspects of life, and the way we vote, interact and get information are no exception. This long-read dives into different technological trends and the impact they have on the course of democracy.

By means of expert interviews, mapping and broad-based systemic analysis of the different trends, this paper explores their potential implications and how they relate to each other. This can help to anticipate what’s ahead of us when it comes to democratic evolution and governance. This piece is a little more in-depth than what we usually share, but it’s a great work of reference for anyone interested in the ins and outs of democracy and how it might evolve over time.

3. Europe: fertile breeding ground for govtech” by E. Elliott for SIFTED

Another piece on the complex but fascinating interplay between politics and technology. As we all know (and probably notice in ourselves, as well), the technological “smartphone”-revolution has made citizens more demanding and empowered than ever. And because they are so IT-savvy, the call for more user-friendly public services now sounds louder than ever. Basically, “people expect the same kind of functionality and ease of service from their public administration as they get from Google, Spotify or their online bank.”

In this light, the Danish government announced its ‘govtech programme’, an open call for startups that offer a solution to public sector challenges. Why start-ups? There’s a couple of reasons, and budget doesn’t even begin to cover it. An interesting read on how the public and private sector can really reinforce each other.

4. ‘Study: Democracy fosters economic growth’ by P. Dizikes for MIT News

How do democracy and economic growth relate to each other? There’s a very solid base of contemporary critics claiming that authoritarian regimes have the potential to fast-track economic programmes. But a new study, co-authored by one of MIT’s own economists, has shown that countries “switching to democratic rule experience a 20% increase in GDP over a 25-year period, compared to what would have happened had they remained authoritarian states.”

That’s a lot of ‘would haves’ for someone without a crystal ball or time-travelling abilities, but it actually makes a lot of sense: democratic regimes invest more in health and human capital, and are generally more pro-reform. To make sure they got a good perspective on the matter, the study focused specifically on cases that switched from one type of government to the other. Over 184 countries between 1960 and 2010 formed the basis of the investigation. A really interesting read on democracy and how it compares to other kinds of governance.

5. ‘How Greta Thunberg’s lone strike against climate change became a global movement’ by K. Aronoff for Rolling Stone

There are people who think their voice or opinion is nothing but a drop in the ocean; then there’s Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage girl who is single-handedly changing the course of history.

After going on an improvised climate strike and handing out fliers that said “you grownups don’t give a shit about my future,” Greta has now unexpectedly become the founder of an international youth movement that has inspired thousands of youngsters to skip school for the climate. This interview clearly shows her determination to take matters into her own hands and to “walk the walk”, as she says. “Change is on the horizon, but to see that change we also have to change ourselves.”

Youth For Climate, a Belgian movement inspired by Greta’s mission, launched a participation platform last month to gather climate-saving ideas. We are currently processing and clustering all this input, which will then be reported directly to climate experts and politicians.

Civic Tech: A Two Way street” by UNDP’s Colour of Innovation

Our last ‘Read of the Week’ isn’t actually a read — we’re wild like that!

This 7 minute-podcast by the United Nations Development Programme dives into the wondrous world of civic tech and explores how technology can bring us together. Get into the curious cases of Palestine and Tunisia and discover how civic tech can bridge the gap between citizens and their governments.

That’s it for this week! We’ll be back next Friday with some fresh civic tech news!

And if you just can’t get enough, head to our blog to scratch the rest of your digital democracy itch. Are you thinking of implementing digital participation in your local government? Get in touch or download our free e-guide that covers all the basics!

There are currently no comments.