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Über dieses Buch

This book constitutes the refereed proceedings of the 6th IFIP WG 8.5 International Conference on Electronic Participation, ePart 2014, held in Dublin, Ireland, in September 2014. The 11 revised full papers presented were carefully reviewed and selected from 20 submissions. The papers have been organized in the following topical sections: social media; review and analysis; engaging citizens online; and software platforms and evaluation.



Social Media

Social Media vs. Traditional Internet Use for Community Involvement: Toward Broadening Participation

Education has consistently been the main predictor of political and civic engagement in offline and traditional Internet (i.e., email and web browsing) contexts in the US. Prior research suggests that the same ’more educated, extroverted, and activist’ type of individuals (i.e., similar to opinion leaders) continued to be more engaged in civic affairs regardless of offline or online context. That is, the advent of Internet access and use did not fundamentally change the pattern of civic engagement in the US. With social media, however, the correlation between education and civic engagement may be less strong. Social media (e.g., social network sites like Facebook or MySpace, blogs and micro-blogs like Twitter, and photo and video sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube) are able to leverage offline social networks online to enable information and idea sharing among trusted sources about civic issues and concerns. In this paper we report findings from a 2012 survey of residents in the geographic community of Blacksburg, Virginia and environs. The main implication of our findings is that social media use for civic purposes is less strongly associated with and predicted by education and extroversion. As such, social media may represent a breakthrough in broadening community involvement.
Andrea Kavanaugh, John C. Tedesco, Kumbirai Madondo

Leveraging European Union Policy Community through Advanced Exploitation of Social Media

The first generations of social media exploitation by government were oriented towards the general public. Evaluations of them have shown that they can provide some insights into the perceptions of the general public, however in order to achieve the required higher levels of quality, depth and elaboration it is necessary to target specific communities having strong interest and good knowledge on the particular topic under discussion. The research presented in this paper makes a contribution in this direction. It develops a novel approach to social media exploitation by the European Union (EU), which aims at leveraging its policy community, which consists of a big network of individuals/policy stakeholders having various policy related roles and capacities, geographically dispersed all over Europe. Its theoretical foundation is policy networks theory. Based on a series of workshops, in which a large number of such individuals participated, the structure of the EU policy community is initially analysed, then the proposed approach is formulated and elaborated, and finally the fuctional architecture of an ICT platform for supporting it is designed. Their main pillars are: important policy stakeholders’ profiles and reputation management, relevant documents’ repository and relevance rating, and finally advanced visualized presentation of them.
Yannis Charapabidis, Euripidis Loukis, Yannis Koulizakis, David Mekkaoui, Antonis Ramfos

Genres of Participation in Social Networking Systems: A Study of the 2013 Norwegian Parliamentary Election

Online campaigning has been on the agenda of Norwegian political parties since 2001. In 2007, there were some early attempts at online campaigning through social networking systems (SNS) during the municipal elections. 2009 was the first time SNS’ were used for campaigning on a national level by all the political parties represented in parliament. This study follows up an earlier study of the 2009 election by examining the communication genres being used by Norwegian political parties in the 2013 parliamentary election. The 2009 study concluded that a genre system for online campaigning was emerging in SNS’, and presented an overview of this system. This paper shows that the genre system is slowly moving towards an established system, and that while still not fully sorted out, previous issues, such as a lack of two-way communication, is being addressed by the parties. The study concludes that campaigning in SNS’ is slowly moving more and more towards the objectives of politics 2.0.
Marius Rohde Johannessen

Starting a Conversation: The Place of Managers in Opening Discussions in Communities of Practice

Online communities of practice are becoming significant discursive arenas in many organizations. Much literature about online communities depicts them as peer-based environments based on user-generated content, where community members take a central role in starting conversations. The current study shifts the focus from community members into managers, and asks who starts conversations in communities of practice, and if there are differences between discussions opened by managers and by community members in terms of scope, topics of discussion, engagement and level of participation. Findings demonstrate the importance of managers in starting conversations and setting the discursive environment of communities of practice.
Azi Lev-On, Nili Steinfeld

Review and Analysis

The Role of a Political Party Website: Lessons Learnt from the User Perspective

Though substantial research efforts have been spent on understanding the role of political party websites, there is a lack of in-depth knowledge concerning how such webpages are experienced by their users. In this paper, we present an interview study addressing users’ experiences of political party websites. Eleven users of a political party website were interviewed to explore their experiences with this website in terms of its features for information, engagement, mobilization, and interaction. The study contributes new understanding of how different features of political party websites affect users’ experiences. In particular, our findings shed light on the importance of high-quality informational content in political party websites for user engagement, and the role of features for interaction and dialogue relative to features for information. On the basis of our findings we offer lessons learnt relevant to the design and management of political party websites and suggest future research.
Asbjørn Følstad, Marius Rohde Johannessen, Marika Lüders

Conceptualising Trust in E-Participation Contexts

Citizen engagement in political discourse and in democratic decision-making via innovative online means (coined e-participation) has become subject of considerable research over the past decade. However, mass engagement of citizens in online consultation and decision-making contexts remains an unsatisfied expectation. In this paper, we investigate trust as a particular aspect that might influence whether a citizen will participate. Trust is perceived as a complex construct, which is subject of research in distinct research disciplines. To identify and implement measures for increasing trust as well as for minimising distrust in e-participation endeavours, relevant trust relationships have to be analysed to understand implications of using or not using e-participation offers. In this paper, the status of current research of trust in citizen participation supported by electronic means is investigated. The literature review unveils that various implications of trust in the context of e-participation are still not researched well. Existing studies investigate particular aspects of trust. Yet, no conceptualisation of a trust model is available that explains the full scope of trust in e participation contexts. Hence this paper puts forward such a trust model for e participation, which builds on the Integrative Model of Trust in Organisational Settings by Mayer, Davis and Schoorman (1995) and the Interdisciplinary Model of Trust Constructs by McKnight and Chervany (2001).
Sabrina Scherer, Maria A. Wimmer

Information Technology in eParticipation Research: A Word Frequency Analysis

Recent literature and project reviews suggest information technology is inadequately reflected in eParticipation research. This study uses text search queries to investigate the occurrence of 60 technology categories in a bibliographic database consisting of over a thousand research articles. The results show that eParticipation research have overwhelmingly focused on websites and discussion forums as the main technologies under study. Many other technologies that are frequently mentioned in overview articles as being part of eParticipation have received relatively scant attention in actual research. This article presents findings that may be useful in broadening and deepening the field’s treatment of technology.
Samuel Bohman

Engaging Citizens Online

New Ways of Deliberating Online: An Empirical Comparison of Network and Threaded Interfaces for Online Discussion

One of the Web’s most phenomenal impacts has been its capacity to connect and harness the ideas of many people seeking to tackle a problem. Social media appear to have played specific and significant roles in helping communities form and mobilize, even to the level of political uprisings. Nevertheless the online dialogue spaces we see on the Web today are often re-purposed social networks that offer no insight into the logical structure of the ideas, such as the coherence or evidential basis of an argument. This hampers both quality of citizen participation and effective assessment of the public debate. We report on an exploratory study in which we observed users interaction with a new tool for online deliberation and compared network and threaded visualizations of arguments. Results of the study suggest that network visualization of arguments can effectively improve online debate by facilitating higher-level inferences and making the debate more engaging and fun.
Anna De Liddo, Simon Buckingham Shum

Engaging Citizens in Policy Issues: Multidimensional Approach, Evidence and Lessons Learned

E-participation offers individuals, groups and non-governmental institutions the opportunity to learn about and discuss policy so they can make more informed choices in their personal lives as citizens, and to contribute to policy drafting as an instrument to strengthen the quality of decision-makers’ actions. Although a growing body of literature has been devoted to the main benefits and opportunities that ICT can offer in e-participation, little is known about the driving forces that foster public participation and citizens’ active engagement. This paper describes a multidimensional engagement approach, supported by an inform-consult-empower framework, to strengthen the foundation for participatory policy-making. This approach addresses the following key issues: public participation, public involvement, deliberative democracy, and collaborative governance. This approach has been designed, investigated and applied in the context of the European Commission project “Puzzled by Policy: Helping you be part of the EU”. The findings suggest that the use of a multidimensional engagement approach with a user-centric focus from the outset is essential to foster social participation, raise trust between citizens and government, and promote constructive narratives to put into the policy-making process.
Elena Sánchez-Nielsen, Deirdre Lee, Eleni Panopoulou, Simon Delakorda, Gyula Takács

Software Platforms and Evaluation

A Goal Matching Service for Facilitating Public Collaboration Using Linked Open Data

Inter-organizational collaboration in the public sphere is essentially important to address sustainability problems in contemporary regional societies. To facilitate public collaboration, we are developing a Web application for sharing public issues and their solutions as public goals. Since participating in abstract or general goals is more difficult than concrete or specific ones, our system provides a functionality to break down individual public goals into concrete subgoals. Our Web application, GoalShare, is based on a linked open dataset of public goals that are linked with titles, participants, subgoals, related issues, related articles, and related geographic regions. GoalShare recommends public goals and users on the basis of similarity calculations taking into account not only surficial and semantic features but also contextual features extracted from subgoals and supergoals. We conducted experiments to investigate the effects of contextual features in subgoals and supergoals. Moreover, we conducted a trial workshop with GoalShare in Ogaki city to improve system design through actual use.
Shun Shiramatsu, Teemu Tossavainen, Tadachika Ozono, Toramatsu Shintani

Evaluation of an E-participation Project: Lessons Learned and Success Factors from a Cross-Cultural Perspective

In the area of large-scale e-participation projects on a cross-national level, the project we present is based on the idea that the active involvement of young people in the process of socio-political decision-making plays an important societal role. OurSpace is a multi-national project supporting a closer relationship between European decision makers, and Europe’s younger generation. OurSpace tried to combine ICT usage, young peoples’ readiness and motivation to participate, and their assumed lack of information regarding European politics. We present the evaluation framework and methodology applied for OurSpace, the major results of the project evaluation, and the lessons learned from a comparative perspective.
Peter Parycek, Michael Sachs, Florian Sedy, Judith Schossböck


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