Case Studies in e-Government 2.0: Changing the citizen relationship

The great Marijn Janssen kindly invited me last year to write the preface of the book he edited, which has now been published.

You can download a pdf of my foreword here, but the gist is:

These factors led to an organic, rather than rationally planned, adoption of government 2.0 across governments. This was probably inevitable in view of the very nature of “2.0” technologies and should not be considered as negative in itself. However, this unstructured, bottom-up adoption led to a reality of many fragmented and improvised 2.0 initiatives. Decision-makers were put in a position where 2.0 initiative were suddenly a “must”, without being equipped with the intellectual tools to design, run and evaluate them. This is probably the reason why it is fair to say that while adoption of government 2.0 is almost universal, its impact is far from being demonstrated. There were a lot of “wheels” being reinvented, and disparate projects were launched in very different fields (from service delivery to political campaigning) without integration.

Case Studies in e-Government 2.0: Changing the citizen relationship

A single interface for Google and Twitter and Kindle? #canwehaveitplease

Today I was looking for evidence on the impact of open data on corruption. I tried google and google scholar, without much success. Next steps will be Quora and Twitter, maybe Diigo. Once I find something, I read it and look for links/references.

Can we have an integrated interface or workflow to do this? So that automatically what I type in Google becomes a question in Quora or Twitter, then highlights the same words in a text I am reading.

More broadly, it’s a pity that we split these information requests. If it was integrated, the flow that I follow would then become a path that could help further searches.

A single interface for Google and Twitter and Kindle? #canwehaveitplease

we need an internet of things for documents

The IoT is expected to bridge the digital and real world.

Unfortunately we still miss the tools to bridge the web with the documents world.

Some text are good for the web: they need to be short and snappy; others are good for reading as a document: they are typically long and deep.

There’s little in between. If I have a good paper or book, there is no way to interact with it; to re-publish; to discuss.

I am a big fan of in-line commentable documents (see this), but we have to be honest: it just doesn’t work, does not get traction.

The solution lies probably in e-books and reader, but they are still far from achieving this.

we need an internet of things for documents

Alternative funding for science: a nice complement or a new paradigm?

[ crossposted from Study on Alternative Science Funding  ]

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 11.29.27

Next week in Seville, we will present and discuss the findings of our study in the JRC workshop on Science 2.0. Previous research shows that traditional reputation (impact factor-based) and funding (roadmap-based) mechanisms act as bottlenecks to Science 2.0 adoption: they are perverse incentive mechanisms that focus on “publish and perish” exclusively or that fund low-risk, top-down research priorities often carried out by the “usual suspects” who are familiar with the complex bureaucracy. The workshop will focus on new, alternative reputation and funding mechanisms that could overcome these bottlenecks and act instead as drivers of Science 2.0 growth. We here provide a preview of our findings to stimulate discussion.

Our presentation will focus on a definition and a proposed conceptual framework for alternative funding systems, as described in this previous post. By alternative funding we refer to mechanisms that are provided by private players (e.g foundations or crowdfunding) and that use more open, bottom-up ways to select priorities and proposals (e.g. inducement prizes, sandboxes).

We will then present an overview of alternative funding mechanisms in real-life, based on our mapping. This shows that there are many such mechanisms (more than 70) and that they tend to prioritize applied research and on societal challenges, and in particular health-related issues. As the figure above shows, bottom-up and demand driven are two different dimensions, that frequently overlap. A question arise: if traditional funding also moves towards more applied and demand-driven approach, who will fund basic, curiosity-driven research?

Finally, we will outline the early results from our analysis of 4 case studies of research projects funded by alternative mechanisms, selected among these 22.

Our research shows that alternative funding is not just reflecting a different nature of the funder, in terms of private vs public, but that it actually affects HOW the funding is distributed. In particular, alternative funding mechanisms typically are not prescriptive with regard to the ex ante definition of the content of the research, recognizing that the funder should leave as much freedom as possible to the researcher to identify the right approach. As such, crowdfunding, philantropy and inducement prizes tipycally set very broad priorities. Similarly, the evaluation of the research projects is typically agile, ex-post and with low administrative burden. The proposal is typically short and simple, and the decision on who to fund is either left to “the crowd” or based on the actual results achieved, or purely on the quality of the idea.

As a result, the funded projects are often carried out by people that do not typically receive traditional research funding; and on issues that are not covered by the traditional programmes. Alternative funding mechanisms are effectively addressing the shortcomings of traditional research funding, but at the same time they do not cover all fields of science homogeneously.

It remains to be seen to what extent this “alternative funding” can upscale. We can already envisage different scenarios, where alternative funding substitutes traditional mechanisms; where alternative funding remains a niche; or where the two approaches co-exists and traditional funding mechanisms are improved thanks to lessons learnt from alternative funding.

We look forward to discuss all this at the workshop, and let us start the discussion already now on this blog!

Alternative funding for science: a nice complement or a new paradigm?

Infographics – when policy reports become like Ikea furniture

Policy reports are becoming more and more visually appealing. Well designed templates, figures, summaries, infographic, snappy and tweetable sentences.

This is good and to be welcome. Yet I can’t help thinking that there’s a common pattern with Ikea furniture.

What are the features of Ikea furniture?

  1. appealing design
  2. extreme usability and fitness-for-purpose – they meet exactly our need and fulfill immediately a need
  3. low durability

The first two features mirror closely what is happening in policy reports. My impression is that the third point is also a feature of new policy reports: less attention for robust evidence, and focus on data points that can be easily communicated. Policy reports have shorter and shorter durability.

I do not think that this is a necessarily true. Good design does not imply superficial findings. But from what I see around me, it often happens to be true.

And maybe it’s a bigger trend? You could apply the three criteria to most products – think mobile phones.

Maybe the big news is that policy reports are becoming more and more similar to consumer products? The consumerization of policy?

Infographics – when policy reports become like Ikea furniture