In his lecture on December 17, 2018 “Imagining democracy through data: Civic tech as a pioneer of data activism”, Stefan Baack presented findings from his research about the civic tech movement, which has been influential in shaping how data is used in the non-profit sectors.
Civic tech is about the development of tools that aim to make engagement with, and monitoring of, governments easier and less time-consuming for ordinary citizens, journalists, or various monitoring groups. Examples of civic tech applications are parliamentary monitoring websites that make speeches in parliament more accessible, problem-reporting websites, or freedom of information websites that help users to write and submit freedom of information requests. The use and collection of data is key for the development of civic tech applications, and civic tech organizations like the Sunlight Foundation in the US or mySociety in the UK helped to shape the concept of ‘open data’.
Drawing from a qualitative case study about mySociety, one of the oldest and most influential civic tech organizations today, Stefan Baack will show how the practices and imaginaries of civic technologists are rooted in relatively old visions of participatory culture. What is new is how civic technologists imagine that data would help to realize these visions.
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The audio file of the lecture can be downloaded here.
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Presentation files of the lecture can be downloaded here.