Last month I flew to Brussels to participate in a Workshop on “Collaborative Production of e-Government Services”. The workshop was organized by the European Commission, to present the results of its study on “Collaborative Production in eGovernment” (you can download here part 1 & part 2) and also to stimulate the exchange of experiences and perspectives in this area (presentations are available at the end of the event’s page).
In October 2011 we participated in the first edition of the workshop. In that occasion we presented the collaborative methodology that the Symbiotic Cities Association was using to co-create the Kyopol System. We also used the opportunity to talk about several serious deficiencies that EU’s innovation support strategies have. Our complaints, alone, meant no change, for sure. But perhaps they contributed, together with many other, to create some consciousness in the EC. The fact is that the new EU program on “Collective Awareness Systems” timidly incorporates some of our demands.
This time I went to Brussels to present the “Participation Schemas”, a conceptual and graphic model that we have been working on, which aims to characterize the essential dimensions that need to be considered in the analysis, design, implementation and evaluation ofcollaborative initiatives.
One of the reasons that hinders the development of participatory democracy and “Open Government” is precisely that we lack conceptual clarity. Everybody is making beautiful speeches and magnanimous declarations of intent… which usually never get implemented. Most open government strategies rarely advance beyond Open Data initiatives and the promotion of greater -but still precarious- transparency of governmental activity.
It’s sad to admit it, but after half a century of research on “Participation” we do not have yet clear concepts and typologies that allow fruitful discussions and analysis.
Our model thus aims to provide some basic “vocabulary” on which to build such a ‘common language’. It aims to establish a series of ‘shared concepts’ that facilitate analysis and communication in this area, and promote especially the exchange of experiences and good & bad practices.
Our presentation was well received. The picture of Obama with his bishop’s miter even got some laughs from the audience. We received some interesting questions and several attendees expressed their interested in applying the model for their activities. The critics that, again, we did on some of the European Commission’s actions were received amicably, with a smile.
But again we came back home with the feeling that, despite their high cost, these events have a very limited usefulness. That they are made mostly to comply with a list of activities which were decided to be done in some remote government meeting.
For this reason we are now working with one of the foremost experts on Open Government, Álvaro Ramírez-Alujas -GIGAPP‘s researcher- preparing a paper to present this model in more detail. We will disseminate it as soon as it is ready, so you all can contribute to improve it further.
The workshop’s organizers promised to send us the video of our talk. I’ll post it here when I receive it . [2012.03.05: Here it is!! Sadly, because of EU's fondness for "secrecy", the video could not include the interesting Q&A that happened immediately afterwards... ]
You can also download the presentation from the Association’s SlideShare page.