Index: Privacy and Security


The Living Library Index – inspired by the Harper’s Index – provides important statistics and highlights global trends in governance innovation. This installment focuses on privacy and security and was originally published in 2014.

Globally

  • Percentage of people who feel the Internet is eroding their personal privacy: 56%
  • Internet users who feel comfortable sharing personal data with an app: 37%
  • Number of users who consider it important to know when an app is gathering information about them: 70%
  • How many people in the online world use privacy tools to disguise their identity or location: 28%, or 415 million people
  • Country with the highest penetration of general anonymity tools among Internet users: Indonesia, where 42% of users surveyed use proxy servers
  • Percentage of China’s online population that disguises their online location to bypass governmental filters: 34%

In the United States

Over the Years

  • In 1996, percentage of the American public who were categorized as having “high privacy concerns”: 25%
    • Those with “Medium privacy concerns”: 59%
    • Those who were unconcerned with privacy: 16%
  • In 1998, number of computer users concerned about threats to personal privacy: 87%
  • In 2001, those who reported “medium to high” privacy concerns: 88%
  • Individuals who are unconcerned about privacy: 18% in 1990, down to 10% in 2004
  • How many online American adults are more concerned about their privacy in 2014 than they were a year ago, indicating rising privacy concerns: 64%
  • Number of respondents in 2012 who believe they have control over their personal information: 35%, downward trend for 7 years
  • How many respondents in 2012 continue to perceive privacy and the protection of their personal information as very important or important to the overall trust equation: 78%, upward trend for seven years
  • How many consumers in 2013 trust that their bank is committed to ensuring the privacy of their personal information is protected: 35%, down from 48% in 2004

Privacy Concerns and Beliefs

  • How many Internet users worry about their privacy online: 92%
    • Those who report that their level of concern has increased from 2013 to 2014: 7 in 10
    • How many are at least sometimes worried when shopping online: 93%, up from 89% in 2012
    • Those who have some concerns when banking online: 90%, up from 86% in 2012
  • Number of Internet users who are worried about the amount of personal information about them online: 50%, up from 33% in 2009
    • Those who report that their photograph is available online: 66%
      • Their birthdate: 50%
      • Home address: 30%
      • Cell number: 24%
      • A video: 21%
      • Political affiliation: 20%
  • Consumers who are concerned about companies tracking their activities: 58%
    • Those who are concerned about the government tracking their activities: 38%
  • How many users surveyed felt that the National Security Association (NSA) overstepped its bounds in light of recent NSA revelations: 44%
  • Respondents who are comfortable with advertisers using their web browsing history to tailor advertisements as long as it is not tied to any other personally identifiable information: 36%, up from 29% in 2012
  • Percentage of voters who do not want political campaigns to tailor their advertisements based on their interests: 86%
  • Percentage of respondents who do not want news tailored to their interests: 56%
  • Percentage of users who are worried about their information will be stolen by hackers: 75%
    • Those who are worried about companies tracking their browsing history for targeted advertising: 54%
  • How many consumers say they do not trust businesses with their personal information online: 54%
  • Top 3 most trusted companies for privacy identified by consumers from across 25 different industries in 2012: American Express, Hewlett Packard and Amazon
    • Most trusted industries for privacy: Healthcare, Consumer Products and Banking
    • Least trusted industries for privacy: Internet and Social Media, Non-Profits and Toys
  • Respondents who admit to sharing their personal information with companies they did not trust in 2012 for reasons such as convenience when making a purchase: 63%
  • Percentage of users who say they prefer free online services supported by targeted ads: 61%
    • Those who prefer paid online services without targeted ads: 33%
  • How many Internet users believe that it is not possible to be completely anonymous online: 59%
    • Those who believe complete online anonymity is still possible: 37%
    • Those who say people should have the ability to use the Internet anonymously: 59%
  • Percentage of Internet users who believe that current laws are not good enough in protecting people’s privacy online: 68%
    • Those who believe current laws provide reasonable protection: 24%

Security Related Issues

  • How many have had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over without permission: 21%
  • Those who have been stalked or harassed online: 12%
  • Those who think the federal government should do more to act against identity theft: 74%
  • Consumers who agree that they will avoid doing business with companies who they do not believe protect their privacy online: 89%
    • Among 65+ year old consumers: 96%

Privacy-Related Behavior

  • How many mobile phone users have decided not to install an app after discovering the amount of information it collects: 54%
  • Number of Internet users who have taken steps to remove or mask their digital footprint (including clearing cookies, encrypting emails, and using virtual networks to mask their IP addresses): 86%
  • Those who have set their browser to disable cookies: 65%
  • Number of users who have not allowed a service to remember their credit card information: 73%
  • Those who have chosen to block an app from accessing their location information: 53%
  • How many have signed up for a two-step sign-in process: 57%
  • Percentage of Gen-X (33-48 year olds) and Millennials (18-32 year olds) who say they never change their passwords or only change them when forced to: 41%
    • How many report using a unique password for each site and service: 4 in 10
    • Those who use the same password everywhere: 7%

Sources

The Unwisdom of Crowds




Anne Applebaum on why people-powered revolutions are overrated in the New Republic: “..Yet a successful street revolution, like any revolution, is never guaranteed to leave anything positive in its aftermath—or anything at all. In the West, we often now associate protests with progress, or at least we assume that big crowds—the March on Washington, Paris in 1968—are the benign face of social change. But street revolutions are not always progressive, positive, or even important. Some replace a corrupt tyranny with violence and a political vacuum, which is what happened in Libya. Ukraine’s own Orange Revolution of 2004–2005 produced a new group of leaders who turned out to be just as incompetent as their predecessors. Crowds can be bullying, they can become violent, and they can give rise to extremists: Think Tehran 1979, or indeed Petrograd 1917.
The crowd may not even represent the majority. Because a street revolution makes good copy, and because it provides great photographs, we often mistakenly confuse “people power” with democracy itself. In fact, the creation of democratic institutions—courts, legal systems, bills of rights—is a long and tedious process that often doesn’t interest foreign journalists at all. Tunisia’s ratification of a new constitution earlier this year represented the most significant achievement of the Arab Spring to date, but the agonizing negotiations that led up to that moment were hard for outsiders to understand—and not remotely telegenic
Equally, it is a dangerous mistake to imagine that “people power” can ever be a substitute for actual elections. On television, a demonstration can loom larger than it should. In both Thailand and Turkey, an educated middle class has recently taken to the streets to protest against democratically elected leaders who have grown increasingly corrupt and autocratic, but who might well be voted back into office tomorrow. In Venezuela, elections are not fair and the media is not free, but the president is supported by many Venezuelans who still have faith in his far-left rhetoric, however much his policies may be damaging the country. Demonstrations might help bring change in some of these countries, but if the change is to be legitimate—and permanent—the electorate will eventually have to endorse it.
As we often forget, some of the most successful transitions to democracy did not involve crowds at all. Chile became a democracy because its dictator, Augusto Pinochet, decided it would become one. In early 1989, well before mass demonstrations in Prague or Berlin, the leaders of the Polish opposition sat down at a large round table with their former jailers and negotiated their way out of communism. There are no spectacular photographs of these transitions, and many people found them unsatisfying, even unjust. But Chile and Poland remain democracies today, not least because their new leaders came to power without any overt opposition from the old regime.
It would be nice if these kinds of transitions were more common, but not every dictator is willing to smooth the path toward change. For that reason, the post-revolutionary moment is often more important than the revolution itself, for this is when the emotion of the mob has to be channeled rapidly—immediately—into legitimate institutions. Not everybody finds this easy. In the wake of the Egyptian revolution, demonstrators found it difficult to abandon Tahrir Square. “We won’t leave because we have to make sure this country is set on the right path,” one protester said at the time. In fact, he should already have been at home, back in his neighborhood, perhaps creating the grassroots political party that might have given Egyptians a real alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood…”

New Field Guide Explores Open Data Innovations in Disaster Risk and Resilience


Worldbank: “From Indonesia to Bangladesh to Nepal, community members armed with smartphones and GPS systems are contributing to some of the most extensive and versatile maps ever created, helping inform policy and better prepare their communities for disaster risk.
In Jakarta, more than 500 community members have been trained to collect data on thousands of hospitals, schools, private buildings, and critical infrastructure. In Sri Lanka, government and academic volunteers mapped over 30,000 buildings and 450 km of roadways using a collaborative online resource called OpenStreetMaps.
These are just a few of the projects that have been catalyzed by the Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI), developed by the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). Launched in 2011, OpenDRI is active in more than 20 countries today, mapping tens of thousands of buildings and urban infrastructure, providing more than 1,000 geospatial datasets to the public, and developing innovative application tools.
To expand this work, the World Bank Group has launched the OpenDRI Field Guide as a showcase of successful projects and a practical guide for governments and other organizations to shape their own open data programs….
The field guide walks readers through the steps to build open data programs based on the OpenDRI methodology. One of the first steps is data collation. Relevant datasets are often locked because of proprietary arrangements or fragmented in government bureaucracies. The field guide explores tools and methods to enable the participatory mapping projects that can fill in gaps and keep existing data relevant as cities rapidly expand.

GeoNode: Mapping Disaster Damage for Faster Recovery
One example is GeoNode, a locally controlled and open source cataloguing tool that helps manage and visualize geospatial data. The tool, already in use in two dozen countries, can be modified and easily be integrated into existing platforms, giving communities greater control over mapping information.
GeoNode was used extensively after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) swept the Philippines with 300 km/hour winds and a storm surge of over six meters last fall. The storm displaced nearly 11 million people and killed more than 6,000.
An event-specific GeoNode project was created immediately and ultimately collected more than 72 layers of geospatial data, from damage assessments to situation reports. The data and quick analysis capability contributed to recovery efforts and is still operating in response mode at Yolandadata.org.
InaSAFE: Targeting Risk Reduction
A sister project, InaSAFE, is an open, easy-to-use tool for creating impact assessments for targeted risk reduction. The assessments are based on how an impact layer – such as a tsunami, flood, or earthquake – affects exposure data, such as population or buildings.
With InaSAFE, users can generate maps and statistical information that can be easily disseminated and even fed back into projects like GeoNode for simple, open source sharing.
The initiative, developed in collaboration with AusAID and the Government of Indonesia, was put to the test in the 2012 flood season in Jakarta, and its successes provoked a rapid national rollout and widespread interest from the international community.
Open Cities: Improving Urban Planning & Resilience
The Open Cities project, another program operating under the OpenDRI platform, aims to catalyze the creation, management and use of open data to produce innovative solutions for urban planning and resilience challenges across South Asia.
In 2013, Kathmandu was chosen as a pilot city, in part because the population faces the highest mortality threat from earthquakes in the world. Under the project, teams from the World Bank assembled partners and community mobilizers to help execute the largest regional community mapping project to date. The project surveyed more than 2,200 schools and 350 health facilities, along with road networks, points of interest, and digitized building footprints – representing nearly 340,000 individual data nodes.”

Google Hangouts vs Twitter Q&As: how the US and Europe are hacking traditional diplomacy


Wired (UK): “We’re not yet sure if diplomacy is going digital or just the conversations we’re having,” Moira Whelan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Digital Strategy, US Department of State, admitted on stage at TedxStockholm. “Sometimes you just have to dive in, and we’re going to, but we’re not really sure where we’re going.”
The US has been at the forefront of digital diplomacy for many years now. President Obama was the first leader to sign up to Twitter, and has amassed the greatest number of followers among his peers at nearly 41 million. The account is, however, mainly run by his staff. It’s understandable, but demonstrates that there still remains a diplomatic disconnect in a country Whelan says knows it’s “ready, leading the conversation and on cutting edge”.
In Europe  Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, on the other hand, carries out regular Q&As on the social network and is regarded as one of the most conversational leaders on Twitter and the best connected, according to annual survey Twiplomacy. Our own William Hague is chasing Bildt with close to 200,000 followers, and is the world’s second most connected Foreign Minister, while David Cameron is active on a daily basis with more than 570,000 followers. London was in fact the first place to host a “Diplohack”, an event where ambassadors are brought together with developers and others to hack traditional diplomacy, and Whelan travelled to Sweden to take place in the third European event, the Stockholm Initiative for Digital Diplomacy held 16-17 January in conjunction with TedxStockholm.
Nevertheless, Whelan, who has worked for the state for a decade, says the US is in the game and ready to try new things. Case in point being its digital diplomacy reaction to the crisis in Syria last year.
“In August 2013 we witnessed tragic events in Syria, and obviously the President of the United States and his security team jumped into action,” said Whelan. “We needed to bear witness and… very clearly saw the need for one thing — a Google+ Hangout.” With her tongue-in-cheek comment, Whelan was pointing out social media’s incredibly relevant role in communicating to the public what’s going on when crises hit, and in answering concerns and questions through it.
“We saw speeches and very disturbing images coming at us,” continued Whelan. “We heard leaders making impassioned speeches, and we ourselves had conversations about what we were seeing and how we needed to engage and inform; to give people the chance to engage and ask questions of us.
“We thought, clearly let’s have a Google+ Hangout. Three people joined us and Secretary John Kerry — Nicholas Kirstof of the New York Times, executive editor of Syria Deeply, Lara Setrakian and Andrew Beiter, a teacher affiliated with the Holocaust Memorial Museum who specialises in how we talk about these topics with our children.”
In the run up to the Hangout, news of the event trickled out and soon Google was calling, asking if it could advertise the session at the bottom of other Hangouts, then on YouTube ads. “Suddenly 15,000 people were watching the Secretary live — that’s by far largest number we’d seen. We felt we’d tapped into something, we knew we’d hit success at what was a challenging time. We were engaging the public and could join with them to communicate a set of questions. People want to ask questions and get very direct answers, and we know it’s a success. We’ve talked to Google about how we can replicate that. We want to transform what we’re doing to make that the norm.”
Secretary of State John Kerry is, Whelan told Wired.co.uk later, “game for anything” when it comes to social media — and having the department leader enthused at the prospect of taking digital diplomacy forward is obviously key to its success.
“He wanted us to get on Instagram and the unselfie meme during the Philippines crisis was his idea — an assistant had seen it and he held a paper in front of him with the URL to donate funds to Typhoon Haiyan victims,” Whelan told Wired.co.uk at the Stockholm diplohack.  “President Obama came in with a mandate that social media would be present and pronounced in all our departments.”
“[As] government changes and is more influenced away from old paper models and newspapers, suspenders and bow ties, and more into young innovators wanting to come in and change things,” Whelan continued, “I think it will change the way we work and help us get smarter.”

People Powered Social Innovation: The Need for Citizen Engagement


Paper for the Lien Centre for Social Innovation (Singapore): “the Citizen engagement is widely regarded as critical to the development and implementation of social innovation. What is citizen engagement? What does it mean in the context of social innovation? Julie Simon and Anna Davies discuss the importance as well as the implications of engaging the ground…”

Open data and transparency: a look back at 2013


Zoe Smith in the Guardian on the open data and development in 2013: “The clarion call for a “data revolution” made in the post-2015 high level panel report is a sign of a growing commitment to see freely flowing data become a tool for social change.

Web-based technology continued to offer increasing numbers of people the ability to share standardised data and statistics to demand better governance and strengthen accountability. 2013 seemed to herald the moment that the open data/transparency movement entered the mainstream.
Yet for those who have long campaigned on the issue, the call was more than just a catchphrase, it was a unique opportunity. “If we do get a global drive towards open data in relation to development or anything else, that would be really transformative and it’s quite rare to see such bold statements at such an early stage of the process. I think it set the tone for a year in which transparency was front and centre of many people’s agendas,” says David Hall Matthews, of Publish What You Fund.
This year saw high level discussions translated into commitments at the policy level. David Cameron used the UK’s presidency of the G8 to trigger international action on the three Ts (tax, trade and transparency) through the IF campaign. The pledge at Lough Erne, in Scotland, reaffirmed the commitment to the Busan open data standard as well as the specific undertaking that all G8 members would implement International Aid Transparency Index (IATI) standards by the end of 2015.
2013 was a particularly good year for the US Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) which topped the aid transparency index. While at the very top MCC and UK’s DfID were examples of best practice, there was still much room for improvement. “There is a really long tail of agencies who are not really taking transparency at all, yet. This includes important donors, the whole of France and the whole of Japan who are not doing anything credible,” says Hall-Matthews.
Yet given the increasing number of emerging and ‘frontier‘ markets whose growth is driven in large part by wealth derived from natural resources, 2013 saw a growing sense of urgency for transparency to be applied to revenues from oil, gas and mineral resources that may far outstrip aid. In May, the new Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative standard (EITI) was adopted, which is said to be far broader and deeper than its previous incarnation.
Several countries have done much to ensure that transparency leads to accountability in their extractive industries. In Nigeria, for example, EITI reports are playing an important role in the debate about how resources should be managed in the country. “In countries such as Nigeria they’re taking their commitment to transparency and EITI seriously, and are going beyond disclosing information but also ensuring that those findings are acted upon and lead to accountability. For example, the tax collection agency has started to collect more of the revenues that were previously missing,” says Jonas Moberg, head of the EITI International Secretariat.
But just the extent to which transparency and open data can actually deliver on its revolutionary potential has also been called into question. Governments and donors agencies can release data but if the power structures within which this data is consumed and acted upon do not shift is there really any chance of significant social change?
The complexity of the challenge is illustrated by the case of Mexico which, in 2014, will succeed Indonesia as chair of the Open Government Partnership. At this year’s London summit, Mexico’s acting civil service minister, spoke of the great strides his country has made in opening up the public procurement process, which accounts for around 10% of GDP and is a key area in which transparency and accountability can help tackle corruption.
There is, however, a certain paradox. As SOAS professor, Leandro Vergara Camus, who has written extensively on peasant movements in Mexico, explains: “The NGO sector in Mexico has more of a positive view of these kinds of processes than the working class or peasant organisations. The process of transparency and accountability have gone further in urban areas then they have in rural areas.”…
With increasing numbers of organisations likely to jump on the transparency bandwagon in the coming year the greatest challenge is using it effectively and adequately addressing the underlying issues of power and politics.

Top 2013 transparency publications

Open data, transparency and international development, The North South Institute
Data for development: The new conflict resource?, Privacy International
The fix-rate: a key metric for transparency and accountability, Integrity Action
Making UK aid more open and transparent, DfID
Getting a seat at the table: Civil Society advocacy for budget transparency in “untransparent” countries, International Budget Partnership

The dates that mattered

23-24 May: New Extractive Industries Transparency Index standard adopted
30 May: Post 2015 high level report calling for a ‘data revolution’ is published
17-18 June: UK premier, David Cameron, campaigns for tax, trade and transparency during the G8
24 October: US Millenium Challenge Corporation tops the aid transparency index”
30 October – 1 November: Open Government Partnership in London gathers civil society, governments and data experts

Why This Company Is Crowdsourcing, Gamifying The World's Most Difficult Problems


FastCompany: “The biggest consultancy firms–the McKinseys and Janeses of the world–make many millions of dollars predicting the future and writing what-if reports for clients. This model is built on the idea that those companies know best–and that information and ideas should be handed down from on high.
But one consulting house, Wikistrat, is upending the model: Instead of using a stable of in-house analysts, the company crowdsources content and pays the crowd for its time. Wikistrat’s hundreds of analysts–primarily consultants, academics, journalists, and retired military personnel–are compensated for participating in what they call “crowdsourced simulations.” In other words, make money for brainstorming.

According to Joel Zamel, Wikistrat’s founder, approximately 850 experts in various fields rotate in and out of different simulations and project exercises for the company. While participating in a crowdsourced simulation, consultants are are paid a flat fee plus performance bonuses based on a gamification engine where experts compete to win extra cash. The company declined revealing what the fee scale is, but as of 2011 bonus money appears to be in the $10,000 range.
Zamel characterizes the company’s clients as a mix of government agencies worldwide and multinational corporations. The simulations are semi-anonymous for players; consultants don’t know who their paper is being written for or who the end consumer is, but clients know which of Wikistrat’s contestants are participating in the brainstorm exercise. Once an exercise is over, the discussions from the exercise are taken by full-time employees at Wikistrat and converted into proper reports for clients.
“We’ve developed a quite significant crowd network and a lot of functionality into the platform,” Zamel tells Fast Company. “It uses a gamification engine we created that incentivizes analysts by ranking them at different levels for the work they do on the platform. They are immediately rewarded through the engine, and we also track granular changes made in real time. This allows us to track analyst activity and encourages them to put time and energy into Wiki analysis.” Zamel says projects typically run between three and four weeks, with between 50 and 100 analysts working on a project for generally between five and 12 hours per week. Most of the analysts, he says, view this as a side income on top of their regular work at day jobs but some do much more: Zamel cited one PhD candidate in Australia working 70 hours a week on one project instead of 10 to 15 hours.
Much of Wikistrat’s output is related to current events. Although Zamel says the bulk of their reports are written for clients and not available for public consumption, Wikistrat does run frequent public simulations as a way of attracting publicity and recruiting talent for the organization. Their most recent crowdsourced project is called Myanmar Moving Forward and runs from November 25 to December 9. According to Wikistrat, they are asking their “Strategic community to map out Myanmar’s current political risk factor and possible futures (positive, negative, or mixed) for the new democracy in 2015. The simulation is designed to explore the current social, political, economic, and geopolitical threats to stability–i.e. its political risk–and to determine where the country is heading in terms of its social, political, economic, and geopolitical future.”…

The Age of Democracy


Xavier Marquez at Abandoned Footnotes: “This is the age of democracy, ideologically speaking. As I noted in an earlier post, almost every state in the world mentions the word “democracy” or “democratic” in its constitutional documents today. But the public acknowledgment of the idea of democracy is not something that began just a few years ago; in fact, it goes back much further, all the way back to the nineteenth century in a surprising number of cases.
Here is a figure I’ve been wanting to make for a while that makes this point nicely (based on data graciously made available by the Comparative Constitutions Project). The figure shows all countries that have ever had some kind of identifiable constitutional document (broadly defined) that mentions the word “democracy” or “democratic” (in any context – new constitution, amendment, interim constitution, bill of rights, etc.), arranged from earliest to latest mention. Each symbol represents a “constitutional event” – a new constitution adopted, an amendment passed, a constitution suspended, etc. – and colored symbols indicate that the text associated with the constitutional event in question mentions the word “democracy” or “democratic”…
The earliest mentions of the word “democracy” or “democratic” in a constitutional document occurred in Switzerland and France in 1848, as far as I can tell.[1] Participatory Switzerland and revolutionary France look like obvious candidates for being the first countries to embrace the “democratic” self-description; yet the next set of countries to embrace this self-description (until the outbreak of WWI) might seem more surprising: they are all Latin American or Caribbean (Haiti), followed by countries in Eastern Europe (various bits and pieces of the Austro-Hungarian empire), Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain), Russia, and Cuba. Indeed, most “core” countries in the global system did not mention democracy in their constitutions until much later, if at all, despite many of them having long constitutional histories; even French constitutions after the fall of the Second Republic in 1851 did not mention “democracy” until after WWII. In other words, the idea of democracy as a value to be publicly affirmed seems to have caught on first not in the metropolis but in the periphery. Democracy is the post-imperial and post-revolutionary public value par excellence, asserted after national liberation (as in most of the countries that became independent after WWII) or revolutions against hated monarchs (e.g., Egypt 1956, Iran 1979, both of them the first mentions of democracy in these countries but not their first constitutions).

Today only 16 countries have ever failed to mention their “democratic” character in their constitutional documents (Australia, Brunei, Denmark, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Monaco, Nauru, Oman, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Vatican City).[2] And no country that has ever mentioned “democracy” in an earlier constitutional document fails to mention it in its current constitutional documents (though some countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries went back and forth – mentioning democracy in one constitution, not mentioning it in the next). Indeed, after WWII the first mention of democracy in constitutions tended to be contemporaneous with the first post-independence constitution of the country; and with time, even countries with old and settled constitutional traditions seem to be more and more likely to mention “democracy” or “democratic” in some form as amendments or bills of rights accumulate (e.g., Belgium in 2013, New Zealand in 1990, Canada in 1982, Finland in 1995). The probability of a new constitution mentioning “democracy” appears to be asymptotically approaching 1. To use the language of biology, the democratic “meme” has nearly achieved “fixation” in the population, despite short-term fluctuations, and despite the fact that there appears to be no particular correlation between a state calling itself democratic and actually being democratic, either today or in the past.[3]
Though the actual measured level of democracy around the world has trended upwards (with some ups and downs) over the last two centuries, I don’t think this is the reason why the idea of democracy has achieved near-universal recognition in public documents. Countries do not first become democratic and then call themselves democracies; if anything, most mentions of democracy seem to be rather aspirational, if not entirely cynical. (Though many constitutions that mention democracy were also produced by people who seem to have been genuinely committed to some such ideal, even if the regimes that eventually developed under these constitutions were not particularly democratic). What we see, instead, is a broad process in which earlier normative claims about the basis of authority – monarchical, imperial, etc. – get almost completely replaced, regardless of the country’s cultural context, by democratic claims, regardless of the latter’s effectiveness as an actual basis for authority or the existence of working mechanisms for participation or vertical accountability. (These democratic claims to authority also sometimes coexist in uneasy tension with other claims to authority based on divine revelation, ideological knowledge, or tradition, invented or otherwise; consider the Chinese constitution‘s claims about the “people’s democratic dictatorship” led by the CCP).
I thus suspect the conquest of ideological space by “democratic” language did not happen just because democratic claims to authority (especially in the absence of actual democracy) have proved more persuasive than other claims to authority. Rather, I think the same processes that resulted in the emergence of modern national communities – e.g. the rituals associated with nationalism, which tended to “sacralize” a particular kind of imagined community – led to the symbolic production of the nation not only as the proper object of government but also as its proper active agent (the people, actively ruling itself), regardless of whether or not “the people” had any ability to rule or even to exercise minimal control over the rulers.[4] There thus seems to have been a kind of co-evolution of symbols of nationality and symbols of democracy, helped along by the practice/ritual of drafting constitutions and approving them through plebiscites or other forms of mass politics, a ritual that already makes democratic assumptions about “social contracts.” The question is whether the symbolic politics of democracy eventually has any sort of impact on actual institutions. But more on this later….”

Owning the city: New media and citizen engagement in urban design


Paper by Michiel de Lange and Martijn de Waal in First Monday : “In today’s cities our everyday lives are shaped by digital media technologies such as smart cards, surveillance cameras, quasi–intelligent systems, smartphones, social media, location–based services, wireless networks, and so on. These technologies are inextricably bound up with the city’s material form, social patterns, and mental experiences. As a consequence, the city has become a hybrid of the physical and the digital. This is perhaps most evident in the global north, although in emerging countries, like Indonesia and China mobile phones, wireless networks and CCTV cameras have also become a dominant feature of urban life (Castells, et al., 2004; Qiu, 2007, 2009; de Lange, 2010). What does this mean for urban life and culture? And what are the implications for urban design, a discipline that has hitherto largely been concerned with the city’s built form?
In this contribution we do three things. First we take a closer look at the notion of ‘smart cities’ often invoked in policy and design discourses about the role of new media in the city. In this vision, the city is mainly understood as a series of infrastructures that must be managed as efficiently as possible. However, critics note that these technological imaginaries of a personalized, efficient and friction–free urbanism ignore some of the basic tenets of what it means to live in cities (Crang and Graham, 2007).
Second, we want to fertilize the debates and controversies about smart cities by forwarding the notion of ‘ownership’ as a lens to zoom in on what we believe is the key question largely ignored in smart city visions: how to engage and empower citizens to act on complex collective urban problems? As is explained in more detail below, we use ‘ownership’ not to refer to an exclusive proprietorship but to an inclusive form of engagement, responsibility and stewardship. At stake is the issue how digital technologies shape the ways in which people in cities manage coexistence with strangers who are different and who often have conflicting interests, and at the same time form new collectives or publics around shared issues of concern (see, for instance, Jacobs, 1992; Graham and Marvin, 2001; Latour, 2005). ‘Ownership’ teases out a number of shifts that take place in the urban public domain characterized by tensions between individuals and collectives, between differences and similarities, and between conflict and collaboration.
Third, we discuss a number of ways in which the rise of urban media technologies affects the city’s built form. Much has been said and written about changing spatial patterns and social behaviors in the media city. Yet as the editors of this special issue note, less attention has been paid to the question how urban new media shape the built form. The notion of ownership allows us to figure the connection between technology and the city as more intricate than direct links of causality or correlation. Therefore, ownership in our view provides a starting point for urban design professionals and citizens to reconsider their own role in city making.
Questions about the role of digital media technologies in shaping the social fabric and built form of urban life are all the more urgent in the context of challenges posed by rapid urbanization, a worldwide financial crisis that hits particularly hard on the architectural sector, socio–cultural shifts in the relationship between professional and amateur, the status of expert knowledge, societies that face increasingly complex ‘wicked’ problems, and governments retreating from public services. When grounds are shifting, urban design professionals as well as citizens need to reconsider their own role in city making.”

Typhoon Yolanda: UN Needs Your Help Tagging Crisis Tweets for Disaster Response


Patrick Meyer: “The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) just activated the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) in response to Typhoon Yolanda, which has already been described as possibly one of the strongest Category 5 storms in history. The Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) was thus activated by the DHN to carry out a rapid needs & damage assessment by tagging reports posted to social media. So Ji Lucas and I at QCRI (+ Hemant & Andrew) have launched MicroMappers in partnership with the SBTF to micro-task the tagging of tweets. We need all the help we can get given the volume we’ve collected (and are continuing to collect). This is where you come in!
TweetClicker_PH2
You don’t need any prior experience or training, nor do you need to create an account or even login to use the MicroMappers TweetClicker. If you can read and use a computer mouse, then you’re all set to be a Digital Humanitarian! Just click here to get started. Every tweet will get tagged by 3 different volunteers (to ensure quality control) and those tweets that get identical tags will be shared with our UN colleagues in the Philippines. All this and more is explained in the link above, which will give you a quick intro so you can get started right away. Our UN colleagues need these tags to better understand who needs help and what areas have been affected.”