Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rehg, McBurney, and Parsons (2005): Big Methodology, Two Extant Systems

Rehg, William, McBurney, Peter, and Parsons, Simon. (2005). "Computer Decision-Support Systems for Public Argumentation: Assessing Deliberative Legitimacy," AI & Society (19), 203-229.

  1. "decision-support systems for public policy argumentation" so far focus more on reasoning, and inference -- the dialectic process -- than rely on knowledge database; thus "argumentation systems" rather than "knowledge systems"
  2. CAH hits the bullseye: "If appropriately designed, such systems should be able to assist debate by tracking various claims and arguments, by searching databases for relevant information, and by continually updating and assessing the overall state of the debate." (204)
  3. gaps between formal design and practice show that AI researchers need to "engage in interdisciplinary experimentation;" hang with the poliSci, Soc, and other social scientists; and participate in the public discourse system themselves (205)
  4. Zeno system
    1. EC-funded, GMD urban planning
    2. developers (Gordon and Karacapilidis) call it "mediation system"
    3. formalized IBIS (issue-based information system) model (Rittel & Webber 1973)
      1. issue: topic ("Where should we put the airport?")
      2. position: some relevant statement ("We should put it in Bob's cornfield.")
      3. argument: statements for or against positions ("Bob's cornfield is too close to the hospital.")
    4. actually labels positions as acceptable or not based on established constraints
    5. supports real-time debates
    6. intuitive, graphical interfaces
  5. Risk Agora (McBurney and Parsons)
    1. Proposed for scientific debate "over the potential health and environmental risks of new chemicals and substances and the appropriate regulation of these substances" (207)
    2. like Zeno, labels arguments, seeks to give snapshot of overall status of debate
    3. not meant for real-time
    4. no intuitive, graphical interfaces
  6. Three key roles for argumentation systems:
    1. support participants (help citizens, mediators, decision-makers find info)
    2. serve orrery role (keep records)
    3. provide forum for dialogue
    4. systems not close to being participants or decision-makers
  7. Problem with evaluation of SDSS: how do we know it's producing any better decisions than the old way? How do we measure the effectiveness of the old decision-making process? "The precise problem that interests us here, however, is the lack of an inherent, or independently accessible, standard of truth or correctness for urban planning decisions" (212) or any social decision, for that matter. Closely tied to our political biases!
    1. Think of it this way: plug in the CLDS, let it run for five years. How can I tell if Russ is making better decisions now than he was pre-CLDS?
  8. Standards from Schmidt-Belz et al. (1998)
    1. efficiency
    2. transparency
    3. non-coerciveness
    4. equality of participation
  9. Legitimacy: Four dimensions of "reasonable deliberative transformation"
    1. "self-transformation"
      1. deliberation central, not bargaining (the latter is the "conventional pluralist model")
      2. delib focuses more moving people from self-interest to conception of common good; bargaining about maximizing util.
      3. participants willing to share info, learn from each other, even change (transform!) position (negotiators usu. hold some info back)
    2. substantive dialectical quality
      1. "truth" a bad measure!
      2. address all relevant information
      3. arrive at msot justifiable/reasonable outcome
      4. combination of expertise and values
    3. inclusiveness
    4. non-coerciveness
      1. not enough to give everyone access; you also have to make sure there's not some aspect of the system that limits some users ability to have their say and to learn from other participants
      2. watch those mediators!
  10. formal procedures can be coercive, inhibit knowledge flow! Check with these three questions, based on the above roles:
    1. "Do the participant-support mechanisms favor some parties over others?"
    2. "Is the tracking or record keeping genuinely neutral -- that is, can each stakeholder perceive that the system has represented his or her or its position, interests, calues, and arguments accurately?"
    3. "And does the forum structure (e.g., the sequencing of links at the user-interface) give some participants greater opportunity to influence the deliberation?" (222)
  11. Note that determine whether there is coercion, the researcher must become a participant, talk to the other participants, understand things from their context

Monday, February 11, 2008

McBurney and Parsons (2001): Methodology Fodder!

McBurney, Peter, and Parsons, Simon. (2001). Intelligent systems to support deliberative democracy in environmental regulation. Information & Communications Technology Law, 10(1), 79-89.

Ugh! Abstract only, no full text! Get it!

Among normative models for democracy, the Deliberative Model suggests that public policy decisions should be made only following rational, public deliberation of alternative courses of action. This article argues that such a model is particularly appropriate for the assessment of environmental and health risks of new substances and technologies, and for the development of appropriate regulatory responses. To give operational effect to these ideas, a dialectical argumentation formalism for an intelligent system within which deliberative debates about risk and regulation can be conducted is proposed. The formalism draws on various philosophies of argumentation, scientific and moral discourse, and communicative action, due to Toulmin, Pera, Alexy and Habermas. (!!!)

Keating (1995): technocratic approach 1960s & 1970s

Keating, Michael (1995). "Size, Efficiency, and Democracy: Consolidation, Fragmentation, and Public Choice." In David Judge, Gerry Stoker, and Harold Wolman (Eds.). Theories of Urban Politics. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publications, 117-134.

  • technocratic, "service-delivery" perspective frequent in 1960s and 1970s, too, "leaving democratic participation as an afterthought" (128)

Livingstone et al. (2007): "Citizen-consumer" in UK discourse, problems remain

Livingstone, Sonia, Lunt, Peter, and Miller, Laura (2007). "Citizens and Consumers: Discursive Debate During and After the Communications Act 2003," Media, Culture & Society (29:4) 613-638. Abstract only -- not Mundt-avail! Rats!

The regulation of media and communications in the UK has recently been subject to reform resulting in the creation of the Office of Communications (Ofcom). This statutory body, established by an Act of Parliament, is a new, sector-wide regulator, protecting the interests of what has been termed the ‘citizen-consumer’. This article charts the discursive shifts that occurred during the passage of the Communications Act through Parliament and in the initial stages of its implementation to understand how and why the term ‘citizen-consumer’ came to lie at the heart of the new regulator’s mission. By critically analysing the various alignments of ‘citizen’ and ‘consumer’ interests within the debates, the underlying struggles over the formulation of power, responsibility and duties for the new regulator and for other stakeholders – industry, government and public – are identified. The article concludes that the legacy of these debates is that regulatory provisions designed to further the ‘citizen interest’ contain significant and unresolved dilemmas.

Butler & Collins 2004: Citizen as consumer -- Ireland

Butler, Patrick, and Collins, Neil (2004). "Citizen as Consumer." In Neil Collins and Terry Cradden (Eds.), Political Issues in Ireland Today. Manchester University Press, 135-148.

Citizen as consumer has advantages for improving efficiency, but also threatens democracy (135) -- very much as Ryan (2001) says.

  1. "Citizen as consumer" comes from New Public Management (NPM): movement across Western democracies
    1. big role for marketing
    2. "focus on market operations and management of customer service" (135)
    3. see Osborne and Gaebler (1993), "the American NPM gurus" (146)
  2. "The ultimate paradox is that better utilisation of managment technologies may damage political processes and institutions, because treating citizens as consumers involves both positive and negative outcomes.... Problems associated with the separation of politics and administration are raised in this context. Initiatives relating to the provision of government services by electronic means (often called 'eGovernment') that primarily emphasize customer service delivery will also be vulnerable to such difficulties" (emphasis mine, 135-136).
  3. NPM-CAC perspective appealing -- "How could anyone not want better service?" (140) and "We should run government like a business" (143) -- but weakens sense of corresponding rights and social responsibilities/duties/obligations. Govt must be "guided by objective policies aimed at meeting social rather than personal needs" (142, quoting Humphreys, 1998:19).
  4. Elaborates on Ryan (2001), notes that consumer mindset lessens sense of collective responsibility: we can't have a system where only the direct "consumers" of higher education get a say on higher ed policy; the whole community gets to take part
  5. Again summarizing Ryan (2001): "...the market model implies that the production of public services is a technical rather than political process..." (143)
  6. "Market-driven managerialism is primarily based on happy customers rather than involved citizens" (144).
  7. Market research (focus groups, surveys, etc.) may actually keep the public at a distance (145)
    1. Well, that's problematic for my methodology....
  8. They include "principles guiding Civil Service Customer Action Plans" which refer to "customers"

Ryan 2001: Citizens as Consumers = Bad Perpsective

Ryan, Neal 2001 Reconstructing Citizens as Consumers: Implications for New Modes of Governance Australian Journal of Public Administration 60:3 104-109

Nail on the head: the market model of citizens as consumers is bad. Great advocate for CLDS.

  • 1980s-1990s: emphasis on improving service by creating markets: privatize, make government compete
    • inadequate model for regime of partnerships and cooperation
    • inadequate there isn't real competition for services
  • "citizen as consumer" hurts citizen-govt relationship
    • redefines relationship as "passive commercial transaction rather than an interactive political engagement" (105)
    • emphasizes "sovereignty of the individual over the public good" (105)
    • market mindset breaks down if market forces (competition, consumer knowledge, etc.) don't apply
    • oversimplifies relationship: often not voluntary; not simple reciprocation of services for taxes/payment; ignores mutual commitment" (107)
  • Implications
    • "public confidence in government is likely to be higher in circumstances in which there are high levels of participations, engagement and knowledge" (107)
    • surveys great, do more, but don't allow them to replace real political engagement: ranking preferences on a filtered list of choices created by a pollster still isn't as good as taking the floor and presenting your own original idea
    • "focus on individual satsifaction diminishes the contribution of public services to building the social capital that may result from a focus on collective relationships" (107)
    • "the language of producers and consumers contributes to notions of elitist government"!!! (107) contributes to impression of govt as "high value producers of services" filled with experts whom the rest of us mere mortals have to sit back and trust and not presume to bother with our humble opinions

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Google Partners with States on Gov2.0

Google press release, "Google and Four US States Improve Public Access to Government Websites," April 30, 2007

  • Lots of govt info on databases not accessible to search engine crawlers, thus harder to find
  • state tech managers working to increase amount of govt info available to Google searches
  • Sitemap Protocol is key
    • produces list of all pages on website
    • automatically sends list to search engines
  • see case study on Arizona and press info
    • Arizona: less than 50 tech staff hours >> implementation on eight major databases, "made hundreds of thousands of public records and other pages 'crawlable'"
  • Started with CA, AZ, UT, and VA
  • added MI, FL


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