Archive for October, 2009

Weekly eParticipation News digest “October 25t - 31st 2009″

30. October 2009 – 13:25 by Bengt Feil

In an interesting move the Obama administration new media time decided to switch WhiteHouse.Gov to the open source content management system Drupal. Drupal is one of the most mature and well received open source CMSs. This week the new German majority coalition also published its coalition treaty which also includes the reference to open source software as a tool for governmental organisations. These two examples are landmarks for the move of governments to open source technology and definitely help to boost its credibility.

Clay Johnson over at the Sunlight Labs has a great post on how proprietary formats, such as Adobe PDF and Flash, are bad for government transparency. His main point is that they are not machine-readable and that it is therefore much harder to build any projects and services around them (e.g. count the use of specific terms, geo-location services etc.).

David Briggs published his talk on Web2.0 and its impact on the public sector this week. It is a great overview and first step into the world of social media as its influencing governmental and administrative work.

The Personal Democracy Forum published a good interview with Tom Watson (British MP) who talks about his effort as the “blogging minister” and the possibilities and challenges social media and Gov 2.0 bring with them. He sees the bureaucratic culture as the biggest hurdle for the adaptation of new media ideas in government.

It seems dry at first but the UK Data Standards Catalogue is an important step towards opening up government data for use by third parties. The question remains whether we will have a Europe wide standard for government data publishing any time soon.

Managing opensource for e-participation

29. October 2009 – 17:41 by Peter Cruickshank

Over the last the last few days, I’ve been wondering how people involved in e-participation approach open source for their software. The rest of this post is taken up with a whole list of questions -  it’d be great to hear what people in our community think.

My starting point is an item Bengt Feil posted here last year: “Uniting the Open Source efforts in eParticipation”. Some of the responses at the time were interesting - but I’m not sure if any clear conclusion emerged, so I thought I’d raise the subject again.

As I see it, there are two issues to think about: First, what open source applications are there out there that can be used to support e-participation (eg Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla) - and I can see the need for a directory somewhere where people can their their usefulness in our field, and to discuss which modules and add-ins to use, and how to configure them.

It would be good to hear if there is conclusion on where the best catalog/rating system was. Have the DEMO-Net virtual resource centre’s list of tools or the FSF Directory which were mentioned in response to Bengt’s posting proved useful? What about using’s e-participation community or the European e-Participation portal?

Second, there is releasing new or specialist e-participation applications as opensource. This was the area I am most interested in right now.

In my limited experience, it can happen that a project (or vendor) say their code is opensource, but in practice it can be difficult to actually find the code to download…

(I should point out that there is no obligation to release opensource source-code to the general public: the EUPL/GPL only requires that the source code is supplied to people who pay for the application, so there is no legal issue here, just one of best practice)

I guess what I’m most interested in right now is this: where where should we as e-participation practitioners and developers register or upload specialist OSS e-participation applications? To pick an obvious example, if code is aimed at European e-participation users, what do you think about the EUPL and using OSOR as a repository, is it just another a place to advertise your code, or would you make fuller use of it?

If not there, what would you use? Is it actually of any benefit for there to be access at the CVS/SVN level, or is it enough to just have a compiled package to download?

As a final point on managing the development and release of opensource application, the ‘single-vendor/commercial open source business model‘ as described by Dirk Riehle seems seems quite interesting as a way of bringing in the community while also allowing a development company to retain a revenue stream. Have you heard of it? What do you think?

That will do for now - I’m trying to give myself a crash-course where our (e-p) community is going with opensource, and to get an idea how important it really is to us in practice.

I’d appreciate any comments or examples of what’s worked for you.

One square metre Tempelhof

29. October 2009 – 09:22 by Rolf Luehrs

German journalist proposed innovative eParticipation project – or is it just a weird idea?

Until recently Berlin Tempelhof Airport was one of the world’s oldest still-operating commercial airports. After 85 years in operation and a failed referendum against its closure, the airport shut down in October 2008.

But what to do with a former airport area in the middle of Berlin? Round about 340 hectares empty land in the centre of one of Europe’s largest cities – isn’t this an exciting opportunity for urban development and spatial planning?

View Larger Map

And Berlin is discussing about possible uses for quiet a while and lots of proposals have already been put on the table. Even some participatory planning instruments have been applied like a web-based participation process.

However, it is still unclear how the future use will look like or how an inclusive and sustainable planning process could be designed and implemented.

In today’s edition of the German newspaper “die tageszeitung” (taz), the journalist  Gereon Asmuth came up with an interesting proposal. The territory comprises round about 3,4 Million square metres and Berlin counts 3.4 Million inhabitants he reckons. Why not giving one square metre ex-airport to every inhabitant and let her or him decide what to do with it?

There are not to much possibilities to develop one square metre land, but the more citizens co-operate and support the same idea, the bigger projects could be realised. An football ground for instance would need 7.500 m2, a new central park 400.000 co-operating citizens to become reality. The entire negotiation and planning should be done using the Internet.

Sure, there are a lot of organisational and even legal problems to overcome if this approach was chosen: Should even children be eligible to participate or just voters? How could we prevent potential investors from buying the land from hundred of thousand of citizens? etc.

However, I still  think this is a fascinating proposal and I have never heard about something similar. Or is it just a weird idea?

Future Democracy ‘09 - the final run-in!

27. October 2009 – 14:37 by Dan Jellinek

Great to see some of you at the World E-Democracy Forum in Paris last week - now back in London planning the final details for the next conference in the PEP-NET series, Future Democracy ‘09.

We have a fantastic speaker line-up this year: plenary sessions include one on engaging young people with e-democracy, where speakers include Lucy Willis, Executive Producer of a national TV series in the UK called Battlefront which helped young people to campaign powerfully on issues that matter to them, such as combatting street violence - some moving and eloquent stories and useful practical lessons on engaging the crucuial young audience.

PEP-NET itself is supporting a plenary session with cases from across Europe including and a PEP-NET workshop focusing on other conferences in the European series.

Other sessions will cover local e-democracy; electronic petitions; a ‘Question Time’ session with three UK Members of Parliament; and many more. I look forward very much to welcoming many PEP-NET member delegates to London, and would appreciate any feedback on our planned programme as well. Do please help spread the word for me too, so we can ensure a good number of delegates all round!

Oh, and our Twitter hashtag is #fdem09 and I will also be setting up a Flickr group for the event.


Dan Jellinek, Headstar

Tenders Electronic Daily - with citizen robots: TedBot

27. October 2009 – 09:54 by Madarász Csaba

I am always loving  the opportunity, to give news of good, impressive, useful services, tools, that are coming from the citizens and their groups, empowered by technology and courage.

Most of us have heard about the Tenders Electronic Daily service of the European Union, which is a compelx service dedicated to European public procurement.

The TedBot is an innovative approach, to visualize the tenders and their results on a google map. In this form, it is a great example of how to use knowledge and personal interest to create an advanced service.

Hopefully, it will catch the eye of the European Comission, and will extend the TED with TedBot, showing a some megabites of wise leadership towards citizen initiatives.

But let’s do listen to the creator:

the TedBot

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How to empower women leaders online

26. October 2009 – 18:16 by Rolf Luehrs

Last week I attended the 10th World eDemocracy Forum in Paris. A very interesting part of the forum was the presentation of projects which have been nominated for the various awards. Among them was the Online Activism Institute, an US based project providing web-based training, mentoring and resources to empower women leaders in the Middle East and North Africa. The institute has been selected as one of PoliticsOnline 2009 “Top 10 Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics”. I had the opportunity to talk to Eleana Gordon, who founded the project. Here is what she said:

Weekly eParticipation News digest “October 17th - 24th 2009″

23. October 2009 – 15:01 by Maren Luebcke

Interesting news from England and Wales:  A new bill will be set to be passed into law. By this law councils in England and Wales will be obliged to implement facilities for electronic petitions. Read more on the E-Goverment Bulletin

Call for Papers for the 10th European Conference on e-Government ECEG 2010 in Limerick (17-18 June 2010) is now open. Submissions should address applications for e-Government, challenges to e-Government, e-Voting and e-democracy issues as well as the issue of European citizenship. The conference welcomes academic papers, case studies, work in progress as well as non-academic contributions.  Further information …

A detailed report on the last weeks eDemocracy summit – this year BerlinInOctober – is given by Simon Columbus. The un-conference brought together 50 participants from 19 different countries. The updated conference wiki will be available soon.

The winner of the e-Democracy Award 2009 is announced. Congratulations to EU Profiler. Amazing 2,5 millions citizens have used the tool during last European elections to compare their opinions with those of some 300 European political parties. 

Another important award will be announced soon, but before members of the community are invited to vote for their three favourite cases for The European eGovernment Award among the 52 finalists. Online voting closes at 11th of November.

E-evaluating public policies (with citizens?)

22. October 2009 – 20:08 by University Bergamo

Next week at the University of Milano an interesting Conference (”Mettere i governi davanti alle evidenze. Valutazione delle politiche, web 2.0 e competenza dei cittadini”) will focus on the relevance of web 2.0 in the field of co-evaluating public policies with citizens.

This is a peculiar approach to e-participation. Is this focus on evaluating public policies a better way to involve citizens in the institutional action? Can we consider more urgent to involve citizens in strategic decision-making (for example evaluating a policy action as a whole) or in the evaluation of the public performances (i.e. testing a service)?
To establish the participation of the citizens to policy evaluation as a general principle of good administration can effectively increase transparency and accountability of the governement, and value the citizens competences: this seems the key message of the Conference. But which are the levels of the institutional activities addressed by this new practices of ‘policy’ evaluation?
I think that the answer to this question can help to make clearer if politics or management is at stake.

All the details on the Conference web-site:

Anna Carola Freschi
(University of Bergamo)

(e) Participatory Budgeting in Germany

20. October 2009 – 15:48 by Rolf Luehrs

Like in other European countries participatory budgeting is one of the most prominent examples of citizen participation in politics in Germany. More than 115 municipalities or cities are currently about to implement or have already implemented participatory budgeting projects.

However, there are lots of different concepts of what participatory budgeting exactly means and even more ways to put these concepts into practice. The main differences are the following:

While participatory budgeting was originally designed as an instrument of direct democracy with a binding decision of the citizenry, most of the European PBs are implemented as consultations: The citizens were given opportunity to have their say but it is up to the elected representatives to finally decide about the proposals.

In many cases only selected parts of the public budget are under consideration in others the entire budget is subject to citizen participation. Interestingly the scope seems to depend on the chosen approach: When the entire budget is under consideration, the opinions and preferences of the citizens usually are not binding.

Instruments & Channels
Some of the participatory budgeting projects are still implemented using only traditional communication channels. In most cases the Internet is leastwise used to spread information. Quiet a lot of municipalities or cities are providing interactive channels on the Internet to support the offline activities. And in a few cases the Internet is the only channel for the citizens to participate.

In the following I will focus on the cases where citizens have been provided with an interactive website allowing them to express their views and priorities online.

ePB Germany
Click on the map for further information

Read the rest of this entry »

EDem10 - Call for Papers

20. October 2009 – 15:22 by Centre for E-Government

logoedem10kleinA revolution doesn’t happen when a society adopts new tools. It happens when society adopts new behaviours.“ (Clay Shirky)


4th International Conference on eDemocracy
6. and 7. May 2010
Danube-University Krems

Call for Papers

Scientific eDemocracy visions and models have been developed since the 1960s, but it is now, during the first decade of the 21st Century, that they are becoming reality, being tested and implemented. Extensive IT provides the necessary basis, but it is not the developments in IT alone that are responsible for successful eDemocracy projects – it is due all those who use and apply them, as they adopt new behaviours and change old ones. The new, digital generation lives and breathes new values: they collaborate, compile content together, share their ideas, create networks on social platforms and organise themselves quickly and simply. The new values held, the new behaviours adopted, the changed mindset, along with improved usability and a still-increasing use of the internet, has led to a rapid and radical change in our society.

The EDem10 focuses on these changes which can be seen occurring in different areas and which are manifest in different way:

  • Transparency & Communication (freedom of information, free information access, openness, information sharing, blogging, micro-blogging, social networks, data visualization, eLearning, empowering, …);
  • Participation & Collaboration (innovation malls, innovation communities, bottom up, top down, social networks, engagement and accountability, collaborative culture, collaboration between C2C, G2C, …);
  • Architecture, Concepts & Effects (access and openness, user generated content, peer production, network effects, power laws, long tail, harnessing the power of the crowd, crowd sourcing, social web, semantic web, …);
  • Different Fields: open government initiatives, eDemocracy, eParticipation, eVoting, eDeliberation;
  • Approaches and Disciplines: law & legal studies, social sciences, computer sciences, political sciences, psychology, sociology, applied computer gaming and simulation, democratic theory, media and communication sciences;
  • Multidisciplinary and Interdisciplinary Approaches;
  • Research Methods.

On primary aim is to bring together researchers and practitioners. We would like to invite individuals from academic, applied and practitioner backgrounds as well as public administration offices, public bodies, NGO/NPOs, education institutions and independent organisations to submit their research and project papers.

The main conference language is English; submissions in German (with an abstract in English) are also acceptable.

Further Information: