Is There an App for Everything? Potentials and Limits of Civic Hacking

Ksenia Ermoshina

Abstract


The present article analyzes potential and limits of crowdsourcing software (mobile and web applications) as tools for civic participation. Based on an empiric study of six Russian and French civic applications, developed in response to a particular public problem (corruption, electoral falsifications, police violence and urban problems), the article proposes to address the problem of digital asymmetry from the perspective of pragmatism, STS and software studies The author focuses on the phase of design, coding and testing, and analyzes the procedures of standardization and classification necessary for developing the interfaces. While standardization seems inevitable from the technical point of view, it produces a particular form of asymmetry between the lived experience of a “trouble” and the categorical grid. Developing a civic application, coders propose a certain definition of a public problem and rectify it in the interface. The article argues that an active participation of users in the improvement of the application may help to overcome the limits and asymmetries.

Keywords


crowdsourcing, civic media, participation, software studies, public problems, mobile applications

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS0020161088

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/