Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Working Group at Work

In the middle of all of this fun was the original purpose of the journey. Over the course of a day and a half, the International Working Group on Online Consultation and Public Policy Making accomplished a number of things. We continued to get to know one another, broadened our intellectual network by hearing from DEMO-Net (a European Union-funded research group), and made progress on our book project.

On this last score, my particular subgroup had what I thought was a very productive session. Andy Chadwick has some great ideas about how we ought to think about Web 2.0 in the area of e-democracy. To "get real" about what we can expect from user-generated content (e.g., blogs, YouTube) without becoming overly cynical. For my part, I will be heading up our efforts to analyze what sorts of governments are more likely to be innovative when it comes to e-democracy and what kinds are more likely to be laggards.

Finally, under the lead of Jeff Lubbers and Sungsoo Hwang, we will be surveying government bureaucrats about their attitudes toward e-consultation. The progress we made on this chapter was, I think, our most important accomplishment. We now have some basic topics and survey questions, as well as an online tool (SurveyMonkey) to implement our instrument. If all of this comes together as planned, we will have three nice chapters that tell us (a) what government bureaucrats want out of e-government, (b) how these preferences translate into action at the institutional level, and (c) a theoretical framework for tying the analyses together.

Work, group, work!

~Steve

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