issue8, February 2008


Are we living in a post-Orwellian world?Are we becoming 'more Orwellian'? One sees this phrase more and more.

One major objective of i2010 eGovernment Action Plan was to strengthen citizens’ participation and democratic decision-making in Europe, by "demonstrating tools for effective public debate and participation". (This is not new: it was the 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill who wrote that ‘Democracy is government by discussion’, On Liberty, published in 1859.)

We are currently approaching the completion of an e-participation project ( that gave us the opportunity to deploy a platform to conduct moderated online discourses on legislative proposals, involving policy makers, citizens and other groups in four selected testbeds: Hamburg (Germany), Thessaloniki (Greece), Massa (Italy) and Alston (UK).

Wikipedia defines e-democracy as a portmanteau word as well as ‘a political development still in its infancy, as well as the subject of much debate and activity within government, civic-oriented groups and societies around the world’

The core idea was to use the Living Labs methodology as a user-centric approach for co-creative design and validation of IT products and services to overcome the potential conflict between representative and deliberative democracy, enabling interested stakeholders to express a timely, informed and responsible judgement at each of the following stages of the legislative process:

• policy formation (agenda setting and prior analysis)

• discussion of draft legislation

• implementation of legislation

• amendments and follow-up

The experiences are still fresh and for sure we shall need much time to come up with a definite and definitive view about both the efficiencies and the inefficiencies that were created. In many cases, projects succeed or fail for reasons that were not taken into account during the conception or planning phases. How easy is it to come up with a consensual decision with your partner for the place of your summer holidays? Convincing the other party to support your view is part of the democratic process but has been several times subject of malpractices. >>

Editorial: Are we living in a post-Orwellian ...
There is a lot of interesting projects out there!
TestBed Western Balkans:a project idea...
Direct democracy
Worth to read ...
Worth to visit ...
Networked Government
There is a lot of interesting projects out there!


Project #1: Future in the Alps

Being mainly involved in European Commission funded projects and activities, we tend to forget that there is a lot of extremely interesting, exciting and well-managed projects that are not necessarily funded from the Union.

Future-In-The-Alps is a role model project that you can access by clicking here.

It aims, as expected, at promoting sustainable development in the alpine region but includes a lot of points that could have been used as guide for designing a new project. Especially one stream of work that concerns new forms of decision making and researches the (new) types of decision-making that are the most promising with regard to sustainable development when it comes to negotiating regional planning demands.

Project #2: mCity

mCity is the acronym of the Fully Mobile City Government project of the Center for Human-Information Interaction (CHII). The Center is part of the Information School of University of Washington (UW). So what makes this project special, is the expected question. The best is that you go and visit the site of the project, have a look in the organisational aspects, read the proposal that the people submitted and get an idea why our way of doing things might be in the totally wrong direction. >>


TestBed Western Balkans:

a project idea worth for funding?

By Francesco Molinari,
Worth to read...

The government “reinvention” implied by the New Public Management school aims at the use of ICT to support or redefine existing and future relations with the internal and external “stakeholders” of a public administration, in order to create added value to citizens/customers.

In the place of hierarchical bureaucracy, a predominant organization until the end of 1980s, a fundamentally different model emerges, that we call “governing by network”, for public services delivery and the fulfilment of policy goals.

This is characterized by a “web of relationships” with private sector contractors, non profit organisations, and other government agencies.>>

An extremely worth to read report comes not from Europe but from New Zealand.

It appeared by December 2007 and is about: “Delivering E-government 2007: Real People, Real Stories”.

You can download it from here or access the link there. It is only 20 pages but, believe it or not (actually: less than 20 pages), but each page is worth several (hundreds? Thousands? Hundred thousands of Euros).

It presents the results of research that offers real insight into the state of progress of e-government in New Zealand – from the perspective of New Zealanders who use government services. Quite the opposite from what one would have expected to get from a European perspective where people would have combined macro-indicators with micro-level tables to support theses about the penetration of service X into community Y.

Direct democracy /td> Worth to visit...

The Centre for Research in Direct Democracy has an extremely good presence with working papers and technical reports. Last year it produced a report on the results of a comparative project on local e-Democracy intiatives in Europe and North America. You can download the report from here or access the link and a working paper on Democracy and Digital Divide in Latin America. Again, you can download the paper from here or access the original link.

Life event matters…

Ariadne was originally planned to be the official newsletter of a research project that ALTEC is participating at, namely the IST Project OneStopGov. The project is about life events and how they can be used for supporting the proliferation of one-stop service provision for government authorities in the enlarged Europe. >>



Networked Government

Networked Government is supposed to provide a single point of access for public sector executives. Eveything that is included in its current issue is worth to read.



Ariadne Newsletters (previous issues)