E-Democracy and Encouraging Civic Participation

Open Government Community Group,


I would like to broach some topics pertaining to the advancement of technology, political participation and civic engagement.

I recently wrote to the American Philosophical Association, to a number of political scientists and to colleagues at technology organizations, presenting to them that technologies to strengthen and expand democratic participation, technologies facilitating city-scale e-democratic processes, are expected to emerge from capitalist forces. I presented that citizens are proficient in the uses of collaboration software from workplaces and can be well-informed about its applicability to e-democratic processes.

We can think ahead and can explore new practical theory to ensure the quality of city-scale e-democratic endeavors.

Collaboration Software

Collaboration software enhances the performance and productivity of arbitrarily large organizations. Users of collaboration software can envision and discuss its applicability to e-democratic processes and its facilitation of civic participation in the performance of some of the ordinary processes of city governance.

E-democratic models are myriad and include group processes which result in recommendations to mayors, city councils, city council committees or bureaucracies. Topics pertaining to collaboration software for e-democracy scenarios include the dynamics of self-organization, of task structures and of accessing vast information resources. Routing information and deliverables between groups, across sectors, is also a component of e-democratic processes.

Public sector employees at the offices of mayors, of city councilpersons, of bureaucracies and of other public sector organizations can utilize collaboration software interoperable with public e-democracy spaces as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. participants of city-scale e-democracies. Technology can facilitate interoperation between the public sector and the public. Some public sector reports or documents can be components of broader groups’ scenarios and some public processes, documents or deliverables can be components of public sector scenarios.

Software such as Office Graph can ensure that relevant, fresh, information and documents are available to users including based upon their multiple simultaneous interests, tasks, groups or roles. Items that can be routed include documents, multimedia and data. Office Graph utilizes sophisticated machine learning algorithms to connect people to the relevant content, conversations and people around them. The metadata of workflows, of structured processes and steps of processes, of groups and subgroups, of tasks and subtasks, of topics and subtopics can be of use to algorithms for ascertaining contextual, task-based relevance to route and to present information to individuals.

Incentivization and Acknowledgement of Civic Participation through Social Media

Participation in democratic processes is time-consuming, potentially requiring hours per week or month, involves reading documents, viewing multimedia and participating in group discussions. Some might describe civic participation as volunteer work after 5 p.m.

Social media platforms can strengthen and expand e-democratic processes. Cities can utilize incentivization and validation systems such as integration with professional social networking websites (i.e. LinkedIn) to indicate and to acknowledge excellence of civic participation. New portions of professional social network profiles can be envisioned for civic participation. It could be as easy for users as selecting a checkbox, authenticating across services and configuring the connection between services to synchronize portions of their professional social networking profiles to showcase their accumulating accolades from civic participation. Social media platforms can connect to and synchronize with the collaboration software infrastructures of cities or systems that interconnect the infrastructures of multiple cities to convenience citizens as they move between cities.


There is some work to do. Alongside the New America Foundation, the GovLab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, the Sunlight Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the United States Conference of Mayors and its Technology and Innovation Taskforce, I would like to invite each of you to continue to strengthen and expand e-democratic processes and to commence research into new technology, new uses of existing business and collaboration software, and new uses of professional social media websites for e-democracy and encouraging civic participation.


Adam Sobieski



Received on Monday, 19 October 2015 12:47:23 UTC