CivicPatterns.org – Strategies for Civic technology

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The website CivicPatterns.com collects useful patterns of Civic technology.

The Internet is undoubtedly the central technology of our time. It appears as a very open platform for miscellaneous media ranging from well-known types in a new environment to new, innovative media which would not be possible without the Internet technology (see Papsdorf 2013, pp. 169). Hopes and expectations are connected to these innovative media and one of these hopes is expressed in the term civic technology. The central question of this approach is: How can modes of interaction between citizens and the government as well as among citizens be adapted and bolstered with the means of the Internet technology? Several of so-called civic tech projects have already been started but have yet to mature.

The CivicPatterns website, licenced under a Creative Commons license, tries to contribute to this maturing by providing a categorised collection of useful strategies ("patterns") for civil tech projects. The idea of a patterns collection derives from a book the architect Christopher Alexander wrote in the 1970s: A Pattern Language. Alexander split his knowledge and experiences from designing houses into little "wisdoms", which were easy to reflect by every reader. Later, this concept was also incorporated into the area of software development.

CivicPatterns.org now approaches something similar with civic technology – with an emphasis on social patterns. The collection on the website contains four main categories:

  • Community, summarises patterns connected to the working of community features
  • Delivery, contains patterns which are useful to ensure and bond an audience
  • Government, summarises useful insights for dealing with administrations
  • Engagement, contains patterns which can be used to create user activities

Interested? Have a look on the website and scour the database! You'll find patterns like creating a community not top-down but together with the users in a bottom-up-manner or Giving the users something back for their own contribution. Also, have look on this blog post, which summarises the project more detailed. The code of the website is available on GitHub.

Stakeholder in charge: TU Dortmund

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