Is Blockchain Hashing an Effective Method for Electronic Governance?

My paper with Oleksii Konashevych on the use of the blockchain for e-governance is now published. Check out the online version at: http://ebooks.iospress.nl/volumearticle/50851

Abstract

Governments across the world are testing different uses of the blockchain for the delivery of their public services. Blockchain hashing–or the insertion of data in the blockchain–is one of the potential ablockchain-3012026_640pplications of the blockchain in this space. With this method, users can apply special scripts to add their data to blockchain transactions, ensuring both immutability and publicity. Blockchain hashing also secures the integrity of the original data stored on central governmental databases. The paper starts by analysing possible scenarios of hashing on the blockchain and assesses in which cases it may work and in which it is less likely to add value to a public administration. Second, the paper also compares this method with traditional digital signatures using PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) and discusses standardisation in each domain. Third, it also addresses issues related to concepts such as “distributed ledger technology” and “permissioned blockchains.” Finally, it raises the question of whether blockchain hashing is an effective solution for electronic governance, and concludes that its value is controversial, even if it is improved by PKI and other security measures. In this regard, we claim that governments need first to identify pain points in governance, and then consider the trade-offs of the blockchain as a potential solution versus other alternatives.

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Distributed, privacy-enhancing technologies in the 2017 Catalan referendum on independence: New tactics and models of participatory democracy

My paper on how civic groups leveraged distributed technologies in the 2017 Catalan referendum on independence is now available at First Monday.

https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/9402/7692

Abstract

This paper examines new civic engagement practices unfolding during the 2017 referendum on independence in Catalonia. These practices constitute one of the first signs of some emerging trends in the use of the Internet for civic and political action: the adoption of horizontal, distributed, and privacy-enhancing technologies that rely on P2P networks and advanced cryptographic tools.

01.10.2017_Referendum_1-OCT_(5) (1)

2017 Catalan referendum on independence, by HazteOir

In this regard, the case of the 2017 Catalan referendum, framed within conflicting political dynamics, can be considered a first-of-its-kind in participatory democracy. The case also offers an opportunity to reflect on an interesting paradox that twenty-first-century activism will face: the more it will rely on private-friendly, secured, and encrypted networks, the more open, inclusive, ethical, and transparent it will need to be.

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Assigning Creative Commons Licenses to Research Metadata: Issues and Cases

Check out our new book chapter discussing licensing options for research metadata:

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-00178-0_16

Pre-print available here: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1609.05700.pdf

Abstract

This paper discusses the problem of lack of clear licensing and transparency of usage terms and conditions for research metadata.
2000px-Cc-by_new.svg_ Making research data connected, discoverable and reusable are the key enablers of the new data revolution in research. We discuss how the lack of transparency hinders discovery of research data and make it disconnected from the publication and other trusted research outcomes. In addition, we discuss the application of Creative Commons licenses for research metadata, and provide some examples of the applicability of this approach to internationally known data infrastructures.

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A Research Graph dataset for connecting research data repositories using RD-Switchboard

Check out our paper at Scientific Data on Research Graph, an open-access graph connecting and visualising research data for discovery.

https://www.nature.com/articles/sdata201899

Abstract

This paper describes the open access graph dataset that shows the connections between Dryad, CERN, ANDS and other international data repositories to publications and grants across multiple research data infrastructures. sdata201899-f1 The graph dataset was created using the Research Graph data model and the Research Data Switchboard (RD-Switchboard), a collaborative project by the Research Data Alliance DDRI Working Group (DDRI WG) with the aim to discover and connect the related research datasets based on publication co-authorship or jointly funded grants. The graph dataset allows researchers to trace and follow the paths to understanding a body of work. By mapping the links between research datasets and related resources, the graph dataset improves both their discovery and visibility, while avoiding duplicate efforts in data creation. Ultimately, the linked datasets may spur novel ideas, facilitate reproducibility and re-use in new applications, stimulate combinatorial creativity, and foster collaborations across institutions.

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Inside Catalonia’s Cypherpunk Referendum

The referendum for independence in Catalonia on 1 October opens up an uncertain era for both Catalonia and Spain — a new period that may also impact the future of the European Union.

Read the full piece here: https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=54133

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Democracy Models and Civic Technologies: Tensions, Trilemmas, and Trade-offs

Check out my pre-print with Enric Plaza at https://arxiv.org/abs/1705.09015

Abstract

This paper aims at connecting democratic theory with civic technologies in order to highlight the links between some theoretical tensions and trilemmas and design trade-offs. First, it reviews some tensions and trilemmas raised by political philosophers and democratic theorists. Second, it considers both the role and the limitations of civic technologies in mitigating these tensions and trilemmas. Third, it proposes to adopt a meso-level approach, in between the macro-level of democratic theories and the micro-level of tools, to situate the interplay between people, digital technologies, and data.

 

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Microtasking: Redefining crowdsourcing practices in emergency management

Check out my paper with Mari Fitzpatrick on crowdsourcing practices in emergency management at https://search.informit.com.au/fullText;dn=815917622185255;res=IELHSS

Abstract

This paper examines the roles, types and forms of virtual microtasking for emergency information management in order to better understand collective intelligence mechanisms and the potential for logistics response. Using three case studies this paper reviews the emerging body of knowledge in microtasking practices in emergency management to demonstrate how crowd-sourced information is captured and processed during emergency events to provide critical intelligence throughout the emergency cycle. It also considers the impact of virtual information collection, collation and management on traditional humanitarian operations and relief efforts.

Based on the case studies the emergent forms of microtasking for emergency information management were identified. Opportunities for continuities, adaptations and innovations are explained. The contribution of virtual microtasking extends to all supply chain strategic domains to help maximise resource use and optimise service delivery response.

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