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How big data is breathing new life into the smart cities concept

“Big data” is a growing area of interest for public policy makers: for example, it was highlighted in UK Chancellor George Osborne’s recent budget speech as a major means of improving efficiency in public service delivery. While big data can apply to government at every level, the majority of innovation is currently being driven by […]

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Digital Disconnect: Parties, Pollsters and Political Analysis in #GE2015

Digital data generated during election campaigns are a valuable – but underused – source of information for political parties, pollsters and political analysts alike. They contain signals of what political parties are doing, how they are being received, and what people are thinking and talking about. The OII’s Helen Margetts and Scott Hale discuss how use of digital tools and social media by the two largest parties both, in different ways, illustrate a disconnect between the tightly controlled party campaigns, and the electorate on social media. These differences could lend a clue to why the opinion polls throughout the UK’s GE2015 campaign got it so wrong, and provide signposts for parties seeking to rebuild their relatioship with their supporters after this surprising election.

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Political polarization on social media: do birds of a feather flock together on Twitter?

Is social media democratizing and empowering, or simply a new platform for tighter messaging and control? As social media usage widens and deepens across much of the world, its impacts on politics and democracy are becoming incontestable, but whether these impacts ultimately prove positive remains an open question. Anatoliy Gruzd (Ryerson University) and Jeffrey Roy (Dalhousie University) discuss their Policy and internet article: Investigating Political Polarization on Twitter: A Canadian Perspective, which investigates the extent to which Twitter users cluster around shared political interests.

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Wikipedia sockpuppetry: linking accounts to real people is pure speculation

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps is accused of sockpuppetry on Wikipedia, but this former Wikipedia admin isn’t so sure the evidence stands up. Reposted from The Conversation. Wikipedia has become one of the most highly linked-to websites on the internet, with countless others using it as a reference. But it can be edited by anyone, and […]

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How do the mass media affect levels of trust in government?

There is much evidence to suggest that the more complex aspects of the relationship between openness and trust in government go unaccounted for in current attempts by public sector organizations to become more open and transparent. Greg Porumbescu discusses his article Assessing the Link Between Online Mass Media and Trust in Government: Evidence From Seoul, South Korea, published in Policy & Internet (5, 4), which finds evidence of a positive indirect relationship between citizens’ use of online mass media outlets and their levels of trust in government.

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Don’t knock clickivism: it represents the political participation aspirations of the modern citizen

We are surrounded by simple online participatory processes asking for our opinions through one-click online petitions, content sharing, and social buttons. Max Halupka discusses his article Clicktivism: A Systematic Heuristic, published in Policy & Internet, which argues that this so-called “clicktivism” is a legitimate political act. However, he argues that these acts have been largely marginalized in the mainstream political science literature, and as a result, new modes of participation that draw upon the simplification of social connectivity are being ignored.

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Will China’s new national search engine, ChinaSo, fare better than  “The Little Search Engine that Couldn’t”?

Users and critics remain skeptical of state-run search engines. The 2011 launch of Jike, the Chinese state-run search engine, received a mixed response; and the jury is still out for its 2014 successor ‘SoChina’. Min Jiang and Kristen Okamoto discuss the politics and symbolism of national search engines in their article National identity, ideological apparatus, or panopticon? A case study of the Chinese national search engine Jike, published in Policy and Internet 6 (1) 89-107.

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Why does the Open Government Data agenda face such barriers?

The transformative social and economic impacts claimed by advocates of open government data still seem a rather distant possibility; and even the more modest goal of integrating the creation and use of OGD into the mainstream practices of government, businesses and citizens remains to be achieved. The Open University’s Chris Martin discusses why this might be, discussing the main findings of his article Barriers to the Open Government Data Agenda: Taking a Multi-Level Perspective, published in Policy & Internet (2014: 6,3).

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Finnish decision to allow same-sex marriage “shows the power of citizen initiatives”

In a pivotal vote today, the Finnish parliament has voted in favour of removing references to gender in the country’s marriage law, making it possible for same-sex couples to get married. OII Research fellow Vili Lehdonvirta argues that the decision it is also a milestone for another reason: it is the first piece of “crowdsourced” legislation on its way to becoming law in Finland. The Finnish citizen initiative system aims to make people feel that they can make a difference. This decision not only advances equality and fairness, it also helps define the role of crowdsourcing in Finnish parliamentary decision making.

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The life and death of political news: using online data to measure the impact of the audience agenda

The political agenda has always been shaped by what the news media decide to publish, and the question of how much influence the audience has in these decisions has always been ambiguous. To assess the possible influence of new audience metrics on decisions made by political news editors, Jonathan Bright and Tom Nicholls undertook a large-scale study of the relationship between readership statistics and article lifetime, described in their article: The Life and Death of Political News: Measuring the Impact of the Audience Agenda Using Online Data.

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