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Derek Lackaff publishes research on Better Reykjavik, civic technology

The assistant professor of communications examines socio-technical initiatives designed to promote citizen participation and collaborative problem solving in city governance.

Derek Lackaff

​Derek Lackaff, an assistant professor in Elon University's School of Communications, published a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of eDemocracy & Open Government and a case study in “Electronic Democracy,” a Bulgarian book of essays and research papers.

In the Journal of eDemocracy & Open Government, Lackaff penned a December 2015 article titled “Escaping the Middleman Paradox: Better Reykjavik and open policy innovation,” detailing the Better Reykjavik project and connecting grassroots civic technology to policymaking institutions.

The abstract for the paper begins: Better Reykjavik is a unique municipal ePetition website that is developed and maintained by a grassroots nonprofit organization, has significant deliberative mechanisms, and has been normalized as an ongoing channel for citizen-government interaction across multiple elected administrations. The primary contribution of this study is an analysis of the novel “interface” that was established between the grassroots-developed technical system and the existing political and administrative institutions of policymaking.

According to the journal's editors, Lackaff’s article addresses government openness at a municipal level and citizen use by delving into “the 2008 kreppa (crisis) in Iceland that kick-started the global financial crisis.”

“The study, embedded within Coleman’s framework, describes and analyses the development of a consultation website, used at first by the angry Icelandic citizens to protest against a corrupt government, to become the Better Reykjavik platform, now a central part of Icelandic government,” noted the editors. “Derek shows how the online consultation website moved from the outside (‘the fringes of the grassroots’) to the inside (‘the center of public and governmental awareness’), that is, became the normal channel used for citizen-government interaction.”

​Among the article’s acknowledgements, Lackaff included graduate students in Elon's Interactive Media master's program class, who conducted several of the article’s initial interviews. Lackaff led a January-term service-learning class in Reykjavik in 2012.

Additionally, Lackaff published a case study, titled “Building a Better Reykjavik: From e-Government to e-Democracy,” in “Electronic Democracy,” a Bulgarian book highlighting the topic of Icelandic eDemocracy. In recent years, Iceland’s radical new approaches to governance and citizenship have seen significant international interest.

Burgas Free University, a higher educational institution in Burgas, Bulgaria, published “Electronic Democracy” in 2015.

Tommy Kopetskie,
12/30/2015 9:50 AM