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Archive for June, 2011

A short history of crowdsourcing
Friday, June 24th, 2011

You’ve probably heard of “crowdsourcing” – a way for organizations to solve tough challenges by tapping-into the knowledge of their broad communities.While social media and web technologies provide governments, businesses and other organizations with tools to crowdsource more rapidly and collaboratively, crowdsourcing itself isn’t new.

In a great blog, DesignCrowd researched some of the most well known examples of crowdsourcing.  They think the first case could date all the way back to 1714 in England.  And, of all the examples they describe, it’s this one – the invention of the Marine Pocket Clock – that I find the most interesting.  Here’s the story. (more…)

Gmail and GSA – one giant step forward for government
Friday, June 17th, 2011

I am a big fan of the Government Services Agency or GSA in the US.  Canada’s equivalent is Public Works.  GSA have been early adopters and supporters of social media with apps.gov but now are on the brink of a giant step forward for government.  They are moving to Gmail.  Think of the cost savings, the collaboration options, the bottomless in-box (for all intents), but also a recognition that web based makes sense.

Contrast GSA’s innovation with government departments here in Canada that use antiquated browsers (IE 6) and Lotus Notes as a major email platform.  I know, Lotus Notes.  GSA’s decision is one to be commended.   (more…)

Using NVivo to truly understand participants’ views and ideas
Monday, June 13th, 2011

One of Ascentum’s pubic involvement tools is the Choicebook – a deliberative experience where participants learn about issues, tough questions, and recommend options or choices. These are built into larger engagement processes that may include in-person events and other online tools, like crowdsourcing. Depending on the engagement objectives, participants can be asked a variety of open- and close-ended questions, in a Choicebook resulting in the collection of reams of quantitative and qualitative data for analysis.

While we use SPSS to analyze our quantitative results, the thousands of words of text that we collect through open-ended questions is analyzed using a specialized tool called NVivo. As an analyst, I use both tools to help dissect and understand the views of the publics we engage. During a recent project, I was responsible for reading through 85,335 words of comments (about the same length as the second Harry Potter book, “Chamber of Secrets”), contributed by over 850 participants. Deploying software like NVivo allows me to ensure that participant feedback can be analyzed and presented in a systematic way. (more…)

@ascentum tweets of the week
Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Here are just some the Twitter posts and links that we’d like to pass on from this week.  You can find us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ascentum.

  • Quote: Calgary Mayor @nenshi “we make better decisions when we involve people in our decision making”
  • Retweet: @Healthy_Weights After a break for #elxn41, Canada’s first national dialogue on childhood obesity is back! #healthyweights
  • News: We agree. Now’s a great time to engage Canadians in a public dialogue on the Senate & ways to make it more effective. http://ow.ly/57BW
  • @ascentum blog: How to produce same-day reports for in-person dialogues that will seem, to participants, like magic! http://bit.ly/kZtrUy