Five years of civic hacking in the UK

“Using our services, 200,000 people have written to their MP for the first time, over 8,000 potholes and other broken things have been fixed, nearly 9,000,000 signatures have been left on petitions to the Prime Minister.”

Quite of the entries in our wiki section p2p politics would fall under the rubric of ‘civic hacking‘, i.e. the “development of applications to allow mutual aid among citizens rather than through the state“. These kind of initiatives are not against the state, and in fact, rely on access to a myriad of government services, such as for example, the capacity to contact the services responsible for fixing potholes. But neither are they simple ways to contact government, mere adjuncts to representative democracy. They are between the concept of absolute democracy, i.e. democracy without any representation, and the concept of representative democracy (i.e. choosing the people who will do it for you), representing a rather nascent form of peer-informed ‘participative democracy’.

It’s really an expression of what I have called, inspired by a concept I saw first used by Italian political scientist Cosma Orsi, a “partner state” approach, which calls for public authorities to enable and empower the direct creation of value through civil society. The provision of public funds for the creation of such mutual citizen applications was the idea behind the call for ‘civil hacking funds‘ in the UK by Tom Steinberg, in 2003. It has since come to rather significant fruition in that country, though the projects that were born out of that call, such as, no longer rely on government funds exclusively (they’ve gone the way of social enterpreneurship, aiming for sustainability without aid), and the rather ugly term of civic hacking is no longer used.

David Wilcox’s Social Reporter blog has an entry dedicated to those five years, with some videos of the main players, such as Tom Steinberg, featured below.

At the bottom of the list is a selectiion of audio and video material on open source politics, from our full list in the wiki.

Tom Steinberg at mySociety 5th anniversy party from David Wilcox on Vimeo.

More videos (and podcasts) on open source politics:

(access through this URL)

1. The effect of the internet on politics

* Andrew Rasiej on how Social Media are Transforming Democracy
* Clay Shirky on Collective Action through Social Networking
* Clay Shirky on Self-organized Online Cause Groups
* Clay Shirky on Social Networks and Politics
* David Weinberger on Blogs and U.S. Politics
* David Weinberger on the Web 2.0 for Politics
* Howard Rheingold on Smart Mobs for Democracy
* Jeffrey Juris on Networking Futures
* Jon Warnow on Open Source Activism
* Justin Oberman on Advocacy in the Mobile Age
* Mark Pesce on Hyperpolitics
* Marty Kearns on Netcentric Advocacy in a Socially Networked World
* Nicco Mele on the Impact of Web 2.0 on Politics
* Ricken Patel on Trends in Global e-Advocacy
* Robert Hackett on Networked Advocacy

2. The Obama Election

* Barak Obama on the Use of Social Media in his Electoral Campaign
* Bruce Bimber on the Internet in U.S. Elections
* Clay Shirky on Social Networks and the Obama Campaign
* Elisabeth and John Edwards on the Impact of the Internet on US Politics
* Henry Jenkins on the Role of Civic Media in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election
* Jascha Franklin-Hodge on How Obama Really Did It
* Joe Trippi on Obama as Internet President
* Matt Bai on the Web and the Next U.S. President
* Paul Selker on the Obama Works Experience

3. Open Government

* Bill Allison and Greg Elin on Open Government Initiatives
* Ellen Miller on the Sunlight Foundation and Transparency in the Political Process
* Greg Elin on Open Data from the US Government
* Lawrence Lessig on Coding against Policy Corruption
* Lawrence Lessig on the Need for Open Politics
* Lawrence Lessig on using Openness against the Corruption of Politics
* Mark Elliot on the Participatory Consultation Process for the Future of Melbourne
* Mark Elliott on Stigmergy, Collaboration and Citizen Wikis
* Pete Ashdown on Open Source Politics
* Steven Lenos on e-Participation for Governments and Parliaments
* Tom Steinberg on Innovations in Online Activism at the MySociety Project

4. How To

* Ben Rahn on Online Political Fundraising
* David Taylor on Radical Web Designs for Social Activism
* Harald Katzmair on Developing and Implementing Social Network Campaign Strategies
* Heather Holdridge on Civic Online Campaigns
* Jonathan Cabiria on Virtual Environments for Social Justice
* Katrin Verclas on Using Mobile Phones for Social Change
* Liam Kirschner on Brilliant Swarms for Personal Transformation and Political Activism
* Todd Main on Effective Lobbying For Open Source

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