John Sides @ the Monkey Cage: “Much of politics is about collective action, whereby groups of people need to cooperate in order to produce an outcome. One of the biggest challenges is getting people to cooperate in providing a public good, which by its nature can be shared by everyone regardless of whether they’ve cooperated in the first place.
One way to enforce cooperation is via some central authority that’s external to the group (like a government). Another way, prominent in Elinor Ostrom’s work, is via internal policing by peers within the group.
In this NSF-funded study by Guy Grossman and Delia Baldassarri show that a third way can work as well: developing a leadership or authority structure within the group itself. More importantly, they show that the success of such an authority depends on politics itself. Leaders need to be elected to induce cooperation.The study was conducted among Ugandans who are members of farmer organizations and experience directly the challenges of cooperating to produce public goods. Grossman and Baldassarri not only examined how these people behaved when asked to play a simple “public goods game” in a quasi-laboratory setting, but how they actually behaved within their farmer organization in real life. In both contexts, members cooperated significantly more when leaders were democratically elected—as was true in one experimental condition of the public goods game—or when they perceived the leadership of their farmer organization as more legitimate.
For more in this week’s presentation of NSF-funded research recently published in the American Journal of Political Science, see here,here, and here.]”
Steven Weber, professor in the School of Information and Political Science department at UC Berkeley, in Policy by the Numbers: “It’s commonly said that most people overestimate the impact of technology in the short term, and underestimate its impact over the longer term.
Where is Big Data in 2013? Starting to get very real, in our view, and right on the cusp of underestimation in the long term. The short term hype cycle is (thankfully) burning itself out, and the profound changes that data science can and will bring to human life are just now coming into focus. It may be that Data Science is right now about where the Internet itself was in 1993 or so. That’s roughly when it became clear that the World Wide Web was a wind that would blow across just about every sector of the modern economy while transforming foundational things we thought were locked in about human relationships, politics, and social change. It’s becoming a reasonable bet that Data Science is set to do the same—again, and perhaps even more profoundly—over the next decade. Just possibly, more quickly than that….
Can data, no matter how big, change the world for the better? It may be the case that in some fields of human endeavor and behavior, the scientific analysis of big data by itself will create such powerful insights that change will simply have to happen, that businesses will deftly re-organize, that health care will remake itself for efficiency and better outcomes, that people will adopt new behaviors that make them happier, healthier, more prosperous and peaceful. Maybe. But almost everything we know about technology and society across human history argues that it won’t be so straightforward. …join senior industry and academic leaders at DataEDGE at UC Berkeley on May 30-31 to engage in what will be a lively and important conversation aimed at answering today’s questions about the data science revolution—and formulating tomorrow’s.
New Paper on “Influence of Social Media Use on Discussion Network Heterogeneity and Civic Engagement: The Moderating Role of Personality Traits” in Journal of Communication: “Using original national survey data, we examine how social media use affects individuals’ discussion network heterogeneity and their level of civic engagement. We also investigate the moderating role of personality traits (i.e., extraversion and openness to experiences) in this association. Results support the notion that use of social media contributes to heterogeneity of discussion networks and activities in civic life. More importantly, personality traits such as extraversion and openness to experiences were found to moderate the influence of social media on discussion network heterogeneity and civic participation, indicating that the contributing role of social media in increasing network heterogeneity and civic engagement is greater for introverted and less open individuals.”
Adam Mazmanian in FCW:’ A year after the launch of the government’s digital strategy, there’s no official tally of the economic activity generated by the release of government datasets for use in commercial applications.
“We have anecdotal examples, but nothing official yet,” said federal CIO Steven VanRoekel in an invitation-only meeting with reporters at the FOSE conference on May 15. “It’s an area where we have an opportunity to start to talk about this, because it’s starting to tick up a bit, and the numbers are looking pretty good.” (Related story: APIs help agencies say yes)…
The Obama administration is banking on an explosion in the use of federal datasets for commercial and government applications alike. Last week’s executive order and accompanying directive from the Office of Management and Budget tasks agencies with making open and machine readable data the new default setting for government information.
VanRoekel said that the merits of the open data standard don’t necessarily need to be justified by economic activity….
The executive order also spells out privacy concerns arising from the so-called “mosaic effect,’ by which information from disparate datasets can be overlaid to decipher personally identifiable information.”
New Harvard Business School Research Paper by Paul Healy and Karthik Ramanna (Harvard Business Review): “Corruption is the greatest impediment to conducting business in Russia, according to leaders recently surveyed by the World Economic Forum. Indeed, it’s a problem in many emerging markets, and businesses have a role to play in combating it, according to Healy and Ramanna. The authors focus on RosPil — an anticorruption entity in Russia set up by Alexey Navalny, a crusader against public and private malfeasance in that country. As of December 2011, RosPil claimed to have prevented the granting of dubious contracts worth US$1.3 billion. The organization holds corrupt politicians’ and bureaucrats’ feet to the fire largely through internet-based crowdsourcing, whereby often-anonymous people identify requests for government-issued tenders that are designed to generate kickbacks. Should entities like RosPil be supported, and should companies fashion their own responses to corruption? On the one hand, there are obvious public-relations and political risks; on the other hand, corruption can erode a firm’s competitiveness, the trust of customers and employees, and even the very legitimacy of capitalism. The authors argue that heads of many multinational companies are well positioned to combat corruption in emerging markets. Those leaders have the power to enforce policies in their organizations and networks, and they enjoy the ability to organize others in the industry against this pernicious threat.”
EDUARDO PORTER in The New York Times: “The impact of a technological innovation depends on how deeply it embeds itself in everything we do.
Earlier this month, a couple of economists at the Harvard Business School and the Toulouse School of Economics in France produced a paper asking “If Technology Has Arrived Everywhere, Why Has Income Diverged?” Economic prosperity, they noted, is ultimately driven by technological innovation. So if technologies today spread much more quickly than they used to from rich to poor countries, how come the income divide between rich and poor nations remains so large?
It took 119 years, on average, for the spindle to spread outside of Europe to the poorer reaches of the late-18th-century world, according to the authors. The Internet encircled the globe in seven. One might expect that this would have helped developing countries catch up with the richest nations at the frontier of technology
The reason that this did not happen, the authors propose, is that despite spreading faster, new technologies have not embedded themselves as deeply, measured by their prevalence, relative to the size of the economy. “The divergence in the degree of assimilation of technologies started about 100 years ago,” observed Diego Comin of Harvard Business School, one of the authors.”
PSFK: “Rodrigo Nino, CEO of Prodigy Network, spoke at PSFK CONFERENCE 2013 about building a crowd funded skyscraper in the city of Bogota, Colombia. With a population of over 10 million, Bogota is a quickly growing metropolitan center. This growth is predominately horizontal rather than vertical, which is creating a problems involving traffic and pollution. With 1.7 million daily commuters heading into the center of the city, the average commute from door to door in Bogota is between 75 to 90 minutes every day. This problem of horizontal growth is the biggest issue facing cities in emerging markets. The solution is to go vertical, building skyscrapers to create greater density and centralization.
The issue is raising enough capital to build such structures, and generally necessitates the involvement of large and powerful institutional investors. However, Nino envisions another way, which puts the power in the hands of the people of Bogota. By turning to crowd funding to build a skyscraper, the residents themselves become the owners of the project. In order to make this a reality, Nino has been combating the misconceptions that crowd funding can only be used to finance small projects, that it is only for local communities, and that crowd funding in real estate is not safe.”
Izabella Kaminska in the Financial Times: “FT Alphaville has been taking a closer look at the collaborative economy, and noting the stellar growth this mysterious sector has been experiencing of late.
An important question to consider, however, is to what degree is this growth being driven by a genuine rise in reciprocity and altruism in the economy — or to what degree is this just the result of natural opportunism…
Which begs the question why should anyone put a free good out there for the taking anyway? And why is it that in most collaborative models there are very few examples of people abusing the system?
With respects to the free issue, internet pioneer Jaron Lanier believes this is because there isn’t really any such thing as free at all. What appears free is usually a veiled reciprocity or exploitation in disguise….
Lanier controversially believes users should be paid for that contribution. But in doing so we would argue that he forgets that the relationship Facebook has with its users is in fact much more reciprocal than exploitative. Users get a free platform, Facebook gets their data.
What’s more, as the BBC’s tech expert Bill Thompson has commented before, user content doesn’t really have much value on its own. It is only when that data is pooled together on a massive scale which allows the economies of scale to make sense. At least in a way that “the system” feels keen to reward. It is not independent data that has value, it is networked data that the system is demanding. Consequently, there is possibly some form of social benefit associated with contributing data to the platform, which is yet to be recognised….
A rise in collaboration, however, suggests there is more chance of personal survival if everyone collaborates together (and does not cheat the system). There is less incentive to cheat the system. In the current human economy context then, has collaboration ended up being the best pay-off for all ?
And in that context has social media, big data and the rise of networked communities simply encouraged participants in the universal survival game of prisoner’s dilemma to take the option that’s best for all?
We obviously have no idea if that’s the case, but it seems a useful thought experiment for us all to run through.”