Data Privacy Increasingly a Focus of National Security Reviews


Paper by Tamara Ehs, and Monika Mokre: “The yellow vest movement started in November 2018 and has formed the longest protest movement in France since 1945. The movement provoked different reactions of the French government—on the one hand, violence and repression; on the other hand, concessions. One of them was to provide a possibility for citizens’ participation by organizing the so-called “Grand Débat.” It was clear to all observers that this was less an attempt to further democracy in France than to calm down the protests of the yellow vests. Thus, it seemed doubtful from the beginning whether this form of participatory democracy could be understood as a real form of citizens’ deliberation, and in fact, several shortcomings with regard to procedure and participation were pointed out by theorists of deliberative democracy. The aim of this article is to analyze the Grand Débat with regard to its deliberative qualities and shortcomings….(More)”.

How Billionaires Can Fund Moonshot Efforts to Save the World


Essay by Ivan Amato: “For the past year, since the 50th anniversary of the original moon landing and amid the harsh entrance and unfolding of a pandemic that has affected the entire globe’s citizenry, I have been running a philanthropy-supported publishing experiment on Medium.com titled the Moonshot CatalogThe goal has been to inspire the nation’s more than 2,000 ultrawealthy households to mobilize a smidgeon more — even 1 percent more — of their collective wealth to help solve big problems that threaten our future.

A single percent may seem a small fraction to devote. But when you consider that the richest families have amassed a net worth of more than $4 trillion, that 1 percent tops $40 billion — enough to make a real difference in any number of ways. This truth only magnifies now as we approach a more honest reality-based acknowledgment of the systemic racial and social inequities and injustices that have shunted so much wealth, privilege, and security into such a rarefied micropercentage of the world’s 7.8 billion people.

Such was the simple conceit underlying the Moonshot Catalog, which just came to a close: The deepest pocketed among us would up their philanthropy game if they were more aware of hugely consequential projects they could help usher to the finish line by donating a tad more of the wealth they control….

The first moonshot articles had titles including “Feeding 2050’s Ten Billion People,” “Taming the Diseases of Aging,” and the now tragically premonitional “Ending Pandemic Disease.” Subsequent articles featured achievable solutions for our carbon-emission crisis, including ones replacing current cement and cooling technologies, underappreciated perpetrators of climate change that are responsible for some 16 percent of the world’s carbon emissions; next-generation battery technology, without which much of the potential benefit of renewable energy will remain untapped; advanced nuclear-power plants safe enough to help enable a carbon-neutral economy; and hastening the arrival of fusion energy….

Common to these projects, and others such as the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals, is the huge and difficult commitment each one demands. Many require a unique, creative, and sustained synthesis of science, engineering, entrepreneurship, policy and financial support, and international cooperation.

But there is no magical thinking in the Catalog. The projects are demonstrably doable. What’s more, humanity already has successfully taken on comparably ambitious challenges. Think of the eradication of polio, the development of birth-control technologies, the mitigation of acid rain and the ozone hole, and the great, albeit imperfect, public-health win of municipal water treatment. Oh, and the 1969 moonshot….(More)”.

Winter is coming. Can cities use innovation to save ‘streateries’?


Bloomberg Cities: “Outdoor dining has been a summer savior in these COVID times, keeping restaurants and the people they employ afloat while bringing sidewalks and streets once hushed by stay-at-home orders back to life.

But with Labor Day now behind us, many city leaders and residents alike are asking, “What’s next?” “What becomes of the vibrant ‘streateries’ once winter comes rolling in?”

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Chicago, notorious for its frigid winters and whipping lakefront winds, is at the forefront of the hunt for an answer. The city recently launched the City of Chicago Winter Dining Challenge to get everyone from designers to dishwashers thinking up new ideas for how to do outdoor eating in the cold in a way that is both appealing and safe for customers and restaurant workers.

More intriguing is just how much interest the competition has generated, including nearly 650 entries from all over the world. There are dozens of takes on warming large patios and small dining pods, including approaches likened to greenhousesigloos, and yurts; ideas for repurposing parking garages and city buses; furniture-based concepts with heated tablesseats and umbrellas, and even a Swiss-style fondue chalet.

The goal, said Samir Mayekar, Chicago’s Deputy Mayor for Economic and Neighborhood Development, is to surface ideas city leaders would never have thought of. Three winners will get $5,000 each and see their ideas piloted in neighborhoods across the city in October….(More)”.

International Public Participation Models 1969-2020


Sally Hussey at BangTheTable: “Last year, Sherry R. Arnstein’s  “A Ladder of Citizen Participation” celebrated its 50th anniversary. Originally published in the Journal of American Planning Association (JAPA) and one of its most cited articles to date, the longevity and impact of Arnstein’s Ladder can be recognised in the emergence of 60 public participation models since its inception. 

Yet, Arnstein’s vision from 50 years ago bridges decades in more ways than one. Not only through its dynamic iteration in the history of public engagement frameworks and practices. Indeed, it provides a foundation for many of the central concepts that shape public engagement research and practice today. For just as current public participation spectrums continue to engender the work of shifting power in public decision-making – central to Arnstein’s vision – they also open out onto theories, methods and ideas that exist between the spectra.   

But the inception of Arnstein’s Ladder in 1969 coincided with a shift in focus of the role of ‘citizens’, or public, and the conception of ‘participation’. Published at a “major inflection point” in the United States, with the Civil Rights Revolution, Vietnam war protests, the devastation of urban renewal, urban riots (Watts Riots and Newark Riots, for instance) and the increasing awareness of global environmental and ecological disasters, it demarcates the shift in the activation of citizens. Outgoing JAPA editor, Professor of Community and Regional Planning, University of Texas, Austin, Sandra Rosenbloom recently notes: “One result of the tumultuous events and major societal changes challenging the country at that time was a greater focus on the role of citizens in determining their own destiny and that of the neighborhoods and communities in which they lived. Citizen participation became both a duty and a rallying cry, but one that Arnstein viewed with great scepticism.” 

While, in some countries, terminology has evolved to address exclusivity and divisive categorisation in the shift to from ‘citizen participation’ to ‘public engagement’, the link to contemporaneous challenges is evident in the need for people to determine their own destiny – to have their say – cutting across major changes posed by Black Lives Matter, climate chaos and increasing inequity resulting from population densification and urbanisation – not to mention the coronavirus pandemic that, in forcing a reset, prioritises equity considerations for marginalised and other equity-seeking groups and renewed efforts at fortifying community resilience. With democracy in crisis, public participation, it can be argued, has again become a “rallying cry” as governments scramble to connect to a disconnected public and, in a wake-up call to correct the balance of widespread mistrust, strive towards transparency, increased trust and legitimisation of public decisions.

As democratic societies across the globe increasingly commit to collaborative governance, public participation has thereby emerged as a rich arena. This includes the “deliberative wave” that has gained ground since 2010 that seeks ongoing, continuous and open dialogue and engagement between the public and public decision-makers. The recent focus on democratic innovations as a result of increased digitisation, too, emphasises a concern for the deepening of public participation in decision-making, where inclusive online engagement is one of the ways in which governments can engage communities. For benefits of online public engagement include improved governance, greater social cohesion, informed decision-making, community ownership, better responsiveness and transparency as well as increasing legitimacy of public decision-making. 

Grounded in the democratic notion that public decisions should be shaped by people and communities affected by those decisions, public participation models have emerged not only to better map engagement in practice and theory but to ensure that people can shape decisions that affect their everyday lives….(More)”.

Online Mingling: Supporting Ad Hoc, Private Conversations at Virtual Conferences


Paper by Jaeyoon Song, Christoph Riedl and Thomas W. Malone: “Even though many people have found today’s commonly used videoconferencing systems very useful, these systems do not provide support for one of the most important aspects of in-person meetings: the ad hoc, private conversations that happen before, after, and during the breaks of scheduled events—the proverbial hallway conversations. Here we describe our design of a simple system, called Minglr, which supports this kind of interaction by facilitating the efficient matching of conversational partners. We also describe a study of this system’s use at the ACM Collective Intelligence 2020 virtual conference. Analysis of our survey and system log data provides evidence for the usefulness of this capability, showing, for example, that 86% of people who used the system successfully at the conference thought that future virtual conferences should include a tool with similar functionality. We expect similar functionality to be incorporated in other videoconferencing systems and to be useful for many other kinds of business and social meetings, thus increasing the desirability and feasibility of many kinds of remote work and socializing…(More).” See also https://minglr.info/

The Open Innovation in Science research field: a collaborative conceptualisation approach


Paper by Susanne Beck et al: “Openness and collaboration in scientific research are attracting increasing attention from scholars and practitioners alike. However, a common understanding of these phenomena is hindered by disciplinary boundaries and disconnected research streams. We link dispersed knowledge on Open Innovation, Open Science, and related concepts such as Responsible Research and Innovation by proposing a unifying Open Innovation in Science (OIS) Research Framework. This framework captures the antecedents, contingencies, and consequences of open and collaborative practices along the entire process of generating and disseminating scientific insights and translating them into innovation. Moreover, it elucidates individual-, team-, organisation-, field-, and society‐level factors shaping OIS practices. To conceptualise the framework, we employed a collaborative approach involving 47 scholars from multiple disciplines, highlighting both tensions and commonalities between existing approaches. The OIS Research Framework thus serves as a basis for future research, informs policy discussions, and provides guidance to scientists and practitioners….(More)”.

Mapping the new era of digital activism


About: “Over the past seven months the team at the Change.org Foundation have been working from home to support campaigns created in response to COVID-19. During this unprecedented time in history, millions of people, more than ever before, used our platform to share their stories and fight for their communities.

The Pandemic Report 2020 is born out of the need to share those stories with the world. We assembled a cross-functional team within the Foundation to dig into our platform data. We spotted trends, followed patterns and learned from the analysis we collected from country teams.

This work started with the hypothesis that the Coronavirus pandemic may have started a new chapter in digital activism history.

The data points to a new era, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for citizen engagement worldwide….(More)”.

Politics without Politicians


Nathan Heller at the New Yorker: “Imagine being a citizen of a diverse, wealthy, democratic nation filled with eager leaders. At least once a year—in autumn, say—it is your right and civic duty to go to the polls and vote. Imagine that, in your country, this act is held to be not just an important task but an essential one; the government was designed at every level on the premise of democratic choice. If nobody were to show up to vote on Election Day, the superstructure of the country would fall apart.

So you try to be responsible. You do your best to stay informed. When Election Day arrives, you make the choices that, as far as you can discern, are wisest for your nation. Then the results come with the morning news, and your heart sinks. In one race, the candidate you were most excited about, a reformer who promised to clean up a dysfunctional system, lost to the incumbent, who had an understanding with powerful organizations and ultra-wealthy donors. Another politician, whom you voted into office last time, has failed to deliver on her promises, instead making decisions in lockstep with her party and against the polls. She was reëlected, apparently with her party’s help. There is a notion, in your country, that the democratic structure guarantees a government by the people. And yet, when the votes are tallied, you feel that the process is set up to favor interests other than the people’s own.

What corrective routes are open? One might wish for pure direct democracy—no body of elected representatives, each citizen voting on every significant decision about policies, laws, and acts abroad. But this seems like a nightmare of majoritarian tyranny and procedural madness: How is anyone supposed to haggle about specifics and go through the dialogue that shapes constrained, durable laws? Another option is to focus on influencing the organizations and business interests that seem to shape political outcomes. But that approach, with its lobbyists making backroom deals, goes against the promise of democracy. Campaign-finance reform might clean up abuses. But it would do nothing to insure that a politician who ostensibly represents you will be receptive to hearing and acting on your thoughts….(More)”.

Scaling up Deliberation: Testing the Potential of Mini‐Publics to Enhance the Deliberative Capacity of Citizens


Paper by Jane Suiter, Lala Muradova, John Gastil and David M. Farrell: “This paper tests the possibility of embedding the benefits of minipublic deliberation within a wider voting public. We test whether a statement such as those derived from a Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) can influence voters who did not participate in the pre‐referendum minipublic deliberation. This experiment was implemented in advance of the 2018 Irish referendum on blasphemy, one of a series of social‐moral referendums following the recommendations of a deliberative assembly. This is the first application of a CIR‐style voting aid in a real world minipublic and referendum outside of the US and also the first application to what is principally a moral question. We found that survey respondents exposed to information about the minipublic and its findings significantly increased their policy knowledge. Further, exposing respondents to minipublic statements in favour and against the policy measure increased their empathy for the other side of the policy debate….(More)”.

Might social intelligence save Latin America from its governments in times of Covid-19?


Essay by Thamy Pogrebinschi: “…In such scenarios, it seems relevant to acknowledge the limits of the state to deal with huge and unpredictable challenges and thus the need to resort to civil society. State capacity cannot be built overnight, but social intelligence is an unlimited and permanently available resource. In recent years, digital technology has multiplied what has been long called social intelligence (Dewey) and is now more often known as collective intelligence (Lévy), the wisdom of crowds (Surowiecki), or democratic reason (Landemore).

Taken together, these concepts point to the most powerful tool available to governments facing hard problems and unprecedented challenges: the sourcing and sharing of knowledge, information, skills, resources, and data from citizens in order to address social and political problems.

The Covid-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to test the potential of social intelligence as fuel for processes of creative collaboration that may aid governments to reinvent themselves and prepare for the challenges that will remain after the virus is gone. By creative collaboration, I mean a range of forms of communication, action, and connection among citizens themselves, between citizens and civil society organizations (CSOs), and between the latter two and their governments, all with the common aim of addressing problems that affect all and that the state for various reasons cannot (satisfactorily) respond to alone.

While several Latin American countries have been stuck in the Covid-19 crisis with governments unable or unwilling to contain it or to reduce its damages, a substantial number of digital democratic innovations have been advanced by civil society in the past few months. These comprise institutions, processes, and mechanisms that rely on digital citizen participation as a means to address social and political problems – and, more recently, also problems of a humanitarian nature….

Between March 16 and July 1 of this year, at least 400 digital democratic innovations were created across 18 countries in Latin America with the specific aim of handling the Covid-19 crisis and mitigating its impact, according to recent data from the LATINNO project. These innovations are essentially mechanisms and processes in which citizens, with the aid of digital tools, are enabled to address social, political, and humanitarian problems related to the pandemic.

Citizens engage in and contribute to three levels of responses, which are based on information, connection, and action. About one-fourth of these digital democratic innovations clearly rely on crowdsourcing social intelligence.

The great majority of those digital innovations have been developed by CSOs. Around 75% of them have no government involvement at all, which is striking in a region known for implementing state-driven citizen participation as a result of the democratization processes that took place in the late 20th century. Civil society has stepped in in most countries, particularly where government responses were absent (Brazil and Nicaragua), slow (Mexico), insufficient due to lack of economic resources (Argentina) or infrastructure (Peru), or simply inefficient (Chile).

Based on these data from 18 Latin American countries, one can observe that digital democratic innovations address challenges posed by the Covid-19 outbreak in five main ways: first, generating verified information and reliable data; second, geolocating problems, needs, and demands; third, mobilizing resources, skills, and knowledge to address those problems, needs, and demands; fourth, connecting demand (individuals and organizations in need) and supply (individuals and organizations willing to provide whatever is needed); and fifth and finally, implementing and monitoring public policies and actions. In some countries, there is a sixth use that cuts across the other five: assisting vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women, children and youth, indigenous peoples, and Afro-descendants….(More)”