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Brexit, voting, and political turbulence

Brexit, voting, and political turbulence

Cross-posted from the Princeton University Press blog. The authors of Political Turbulence discuss how the explosive rise, non-normal distribution and lack of organization that characterizes contemporary politics as a chaotic system, can explain why many political mobilizations of our times seem to come from nowhere. On 23rd June 2016, a majority of the British public voted in a […]

Do Finland’s digitally crowdsourced laws show a way to resolve democracy’s “legitimacy crisis”?

There is much discussion about a perceived “legitimacy crisis” in democracy. In his article The Rise of the Mediating Citizen: Time, Space, and Citizenship in the Crowdsourcing of Finnish Legislation, Taneli Heikka (University of Jyväskylä) discusses the digitally crowdsourced law for same-sex marriage that was passed in Finland in 2014, analysing how the campaign used […]

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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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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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Past and Emerging Themes in Policy and Internet Studies

What kind of research does the journal Policy & Internet publish? Editor Vili Lehdonvirta approaches the question from two angles; first, by examining the question empirically, through a brief thematic analysis of the articles published since its launch in 2009; second, by considering what kind of research the journal is likely to publish in the future, both in terms of what kind of trends can be seen emerging in policy and Internet research, as well as in terms of what challenges outlined in the journal’s original vision that continue to be pertinent today. Read the full editorial.

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Mapping collective public opinion in the Russian blogosphere

Blogs are becoming increasingly important for agenda setting and formation of collective public opinion on a wide range of issues — particularly in countries like Russia where the Internet is not technically filtered, but where the traditional media is tightly controlled by the state. Olessia Koltsova, author (with Sergei Koltcov) of the Policy and Internet paper Mapping the public agenda with topic modeling: The case of the Russian livejournal discusses how topic modeling and sentiment analysis techniques can be used to monitor self-generated public opinion.

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The physics of social science: using big data for real-time predictive modelling

Use of socially generated “big data” on collective states of minds in human societies has become a new paradigm in the emerging field of computational social science, but bridging the gap between real-time monitoring and early prediction remains a challenge. Taha Yasseri discusses his paper Early Prediction of Movie Box Office Success based on Wikipedia Activity Big Data (with M.Mestyán and J.Kertész), which builds a predictive model for the financial success of movies based on the collective activity of online users, showing that a movie’s popularity can be predicted far ahead of its release date.

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Verification of crowd-sourced information: is this ‘crowd wisdom’ or machine wisdom?

Automated verification practices are becoming an important feature of crowdsourced content environments as a way of coping with the deluge of data. Heather Ford (OII) explains that while these processes can scale up contributions, it is important to understand how they can also be used to restrict the content to that deemed ‘important’ or ‘trustworthy’ enough by organisations — in a process that may be invisible to those contributing or making use of the information.

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Predicting elections on Twitter: a different way of thinking about the data

Recently, there has been a lot of interest in the potential of social media as a means to understand public opinion. Social media monitoring, which in theory can extract information from tweets and Facebook posts and quantify positive and negative public reactions to people, policies and events has an obvious utility for politicians seeking office. Nick Anstead (LSE) co-author with Mike Jensen (University of Canberra) of a paper “Psephological investigations: Tweets, votes, and unknown unknowns in the republican nomination process” published in Policy and Internet discusses how useful these techniques are for predicting election results, and how they might be reimagined in the future.

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Presenting the moral imperative: effective storytelling strategies by online campaigning organisations

There has been an international growth in online campaigning organizations that engage in public policy debate and mobilize citizens. Ariadne Vromen (University of Sydney), co-author with William Coleman of the paper Online Campaigning Organizations and Storytelling Strategies: GetUp! in Australia published in Policy and Internet, analyses how these organizations promote an innovative approach to storytelling and discursive politics, and how these stories are used to help citizens and decision makers identify with an issue, build community, and act in recognition of the moral urgency for political change.

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