Crowdsourcing Law and Policy
CSCW 2017 Workshop on Crowd-Civic Systems

We invite you to participate in a Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 2017 Workshop designed to explore the risks and evaluation strategies for crowdsourcing law and policy. Crowdsourcing technologies, strategies and methods offer new opportunities for bridging existing gaps among law, policymaking, and the lived experience of citizens. In recent years, a number of initiatives across the world have applied crowdsourcing to contexts including constitutional reform, drafting federal bills, and generating local policies. However, crowd-civic systems also come with challenges and risks such as socio-technical barriers, marginalization of specific groups, silencing of interests, etc.

Participants in this workshop will apply a design-thinking approach to conceptualize the future of crowd-civic systems: (1) what the public can accomplish, identifying best practices, e.g., risks, strategies for evaluation, (2) how people (from policymakers to stakeholder interest groups) value in system processes and outcomes, and (3) when crowdsourcing law and policy poses more risk than potential value.

Relevant links:

Workshop Motivation

In this workshop our focus is on crowd-civic systems that inform the policy-making process, when the policy itself is still ripe for change and input. The experience of existing systems raises several important questions about how crowdsourcing could be used as a tool for civic engagement in this context.

Critical questions

  • Whose views are prioritized?
  • How could policymakers and participants use the results of a crowd-civic system?
  • How can we compare the performance of various crowd-civic systems?
  • When is it not recommended to crowdsource law and policy?
  • What can emerging online collective action teach us about crowd-civic system design?
  • How might we use hypotheticals and futuring exercises to generate insights into the promise and perils of crowd-civic systems design?
  • What socio-technical factors, barriers and risks should policymakers and designers consider as we move toward a wider adoption of crowd-civic systems?

Development of a best practices guidebook

The workshop seeks to address some of these questions by gathering a diverse group of participants, with a broad range of perspectives, to work collaboratively toward the future of crowd-civic systems for policy and law. We will do so by developing a best practices guide for crowd-civic system design and research, drawing from both the public and private spheres, in an effort to promote crowdsourcing as an adaptive, viable, robust, and reliable tool for civic engagement.

Tentative schedule of workshop activities

The workshop will be a full-day of exploration into the critical design of crowd civic systems. The first part of the day includes activities toward reaching a common ground around conceptualization of crowd-civic systems for law and policy. The second part of the day includes activities toward identifying best practices in design, research, and application of such systems.

09:00-09:30 AM Introduction and Orientation
09:30-10:30 AM 2-3 minute participant boasters
10:30-11:00 AM Keynote talk about crowd-civic systems
11:00-12:00 PM Definitions and Theoretical Frameworks
12:00-01:00 PM Lunch and discovering participant viewpoints
01:00-02:30 PM System Barriers, Failures and Controversies
02:30-04:00 PM Online Collective Action for Policy Change
04:00-04:45 PM Synthesis and the Way Forward
04:45-05:00 PM Call to Action and Closing Remarks

During the conclusion, we will synthesize our findings through anin-situ and in real-time crowdsourcing of the best practices guidebook. Please see the workshop proposal for more details.

Apply to participate in the workshop

We plan to recruit about 25 participants who have undertaken or are interested in pursuing research and/or practice related to crowd-civic systems and online collective action for policy change.

To participate, please complete an application

Applications to participate are due by December 20th, and you will be notified about your acceptance to the workshop on December 27th. For any questions about the workshop or to share ideas with the organizing committee, please contact Brian McInnis.