You’re reading the first issue of Civic Quarterly, a journal of thoughtful analysis, constructive critique and original writing on government, technology and society.
This is a magazine for practitioners. The stories will be thought-provoking and ultimately useful for people doing daily work in government, social justice organizations, civic startups and large government vendors. As a quarterly, we publish less frequently. This gives us the space for a longer and more nuanced view than that of the normal, daily deluge of news stories, blog posts, and press releases.
Civic technology as a field and as a movement is growing at an incredible pace. Five years have passed since President Obama signed the Open Government Directive mandating that federal agencies publish machine-readable versions of their data online. We’ve seen structural growth in the form of new staff positions and policies inside government at every level. According to the Sunlight Foundation, there are now at least 30 cities with open data policies, and over half of those were passed in the last two years. We’re seeing more cities hire Chief Data Officers, and in 2013 Philadelphia hired a Director of Civic Technology. Nobody can deny the role of networked communications in our daily lives.
Earlier this year, Pew Research published “The Web at 25 in the U.S.” and reported that 87% of American adults use the Internet; 68% of those users access the Web through mobile devices. But this also means 13%, or some 31.5 million Americans, do not use the Internet. Non-users are predominantly either aged 65-and-over, low-income or non-white, according to the same study.
Civic Quarterly editors believe that technology will play a great part in shaping the way people interact with each other and with their governments in this century. But digital access is not universal. As technology becomes more pervasive across all government functions, we must ensure that it works for everyone. The readers of this magazine have important roles to play as practitioners, advocates, users and decision makers crafting the interfaces to our government.
In these pages you will find stories illustrating this shift to an increasingly digital government experience. We hope you will find the successes inspiring, the critiques and analysis enlightening, and our exploration of failure valuable. We believe sharing these stories will help the movement—and our society—move forward.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your civic work.