CEDEM 2016 – Day 1 (18.05.2016)

created at: 19.05.2016 | by: Christian Category(s): CEDEM 2016, Science

6:30: Take-off. Quite a bit later, I’ve arrived at Vienna International Airport. After meeting with my Collegue at Wien Mitte, we made our way to Krems campus, where CEDEM’s talk where waiting for us to be sucked up.
For more information on CEDEM visit this Hyperlink.
After 1 hour of train ride later we got our CEDEM-passes and joined the already running KeyNote about a practical point of view on the e-government structures in Estonia.
Estonia is one of the few countries (it might even be the only one) which implements online-voting and e-participation for executive matters. Adoption of e-voting is still below 40% but slowly growing steady with an initial adotpion of about 5% in 2007.
Long story short Robert Krimmer’s talk gave an very interesting overview on programs initiated in Estonia, and that the reasons for the lack of success of turning Estonia into a proper e-democracy with all it’s features is rather to be found in a lack of participation by citizens instead of barriers by politics or technical problems.
For the following Presentations I just added my more or less random thoughts, as I didn’t fell like sticking to this report-style.

Random thoughts on:

Adaption of new tools
Tthe problem is not how do we provide e-democracy, but how do evolve as a society to a mindset, that enables us to practice e-democracy.

Participatory Budgeting
In Monza there has been a test run of e-participation, where about 0.8 mil € have been spent through an e-participation system. The general process is divided into 3 Phases:

  1.     Ideas are collected, alliances are forged and support-votes are collected.
  2.     Ideas are transformed into detailed concepts, which are finalized as projects.
  3.     Projects can be voted on by the public

Then in the end the projects with the most votes win and will be implemented.

Can Gamification increase the adoption-rate of e-Participation platforms?
May it be misleading, by making the e-participation to seem less *serious*?
Long story short, add Gamification to your Software if you want to improve adoption-rate, but don’t exaggerate as it might scare away non-gamers.

Reinhard Hainisch introduced a quite nice dampening-improvement to liquid democracy systems. The general idea is to introduce a time-frame in which delegates can change their attitude about a specific topic only once. This gives the people who delegate their vote a certain insurance, that their trust is used in a way they expect it to be used.

Open Data in closed Systems
What happens when a closed regime, like Vietnam, China or Loas introduces e-government and moves further towards Open Data? You might already smile as you can the dilemma this combination is going to run into…
In Vietnam the pressure to digitalize the administrative systems towards e-government began rising at the beginning of the 21st century. From a western point of view the administration openly welcomed this request, as it saw advantages in this proposal to modernize and optimize the administration apparatus.
In 2010 the Vietnamese government made further improvements to services provided to the public, but still did (of course) not grant access to government data, which it did not consider appropriate to grant access to.
As this pressure of the public can be seen as a way to slowly push forward towards a democracy, the regime tries to stick to it’s restrictive behavior of informational freedom and making data accessible.
Nevertheless it seems, that also for closed-system-regime-countries e-participation is a great way to get feedback back to their administration and governments in order to allow them to improve their politics, at least to an extend the seem it fit. Not so different after all, ey?

BTW: Did you actually know, that participation on the e-health-system in Austria is not mandatory, as it is in Germany. This is in my opinion a quite smart move as it forces the government to build it in a safe way and allows user to opt-in, as soon they trust in the robustness and quality of a system.
How come that e-democracy is actually less democratic, than what we already have? Well, the thing is, that e-democracy is quite restrictive to use, because it takes quite some time and technical knowledge to some extend in order to participate in it… What happens now, if we ask people who might not even fully comprehend the difference between the first and second vote in Germany, to participate on a weekly basis in an e-democracy progress. The pessimistic point of view is that participation goes down even further than it already is, with representative democracies. On the other hand, the decision will still be made by those who care and put some work in it, but at least everyone has the theoretical possibility to participate in those processes he or she is concerned with.