Between 29. August and 2. September 2010, the second ePart conference held in beautiful city of Lausanne in Switzerland. eParticipation is a discipline studying engagement and participation of citizens in public policy using modern communication technologies, particularly Internet. The conference was co-located with its more famous and established conference on electronic government – eGov – from which it split off. I presented there a paper based on my Master’s thesis I elaborated on ontology driven self-organization of politically engaged social groups. See below the slides.
I found interesting particularly two presentations. The first was an announcement of new EU FP7 project called Padgets, which stands for “participation gadgets“. The goal of the project is to develop a platform, which will allow policy makers to directly communicate through well established social web sites with the citizens. I consider this approach as the only one possibility how to really engage citizens to participate, as it is highly unlikely the citizens will start to use dedicated system just for eParticipation purposes.
The second talk was given by Pietro Speroni di Fenizio with title Don’t vote – Evolve! He presented an interesting evolutionary approach for large-scale collaborative decision-making. The key characteristic of his method is that every opinion in the system is taken into account and considered, thus elegantly avoiding tyranny of the majority.
The conference was in a completely new building of Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration. The campus of the university is really well located – being perfectly accessible by metro on the one hand and being surrounded by trees, meadows with cows, and Geneva lake on the other hand. Lausanne itself is also very nice place: walks on the shores of Geneva lake, perfect public transport, friendly people, good food, … And of course: art! It seems to me Swiss people really have a good taste of art. I had this impression in Basel three years ago, and my visit in Lausanne only confirmed my impression. I have never seen so many beautiful sculptures, fountains, graphittis, and building as in Switzerland. On the occasion being in Lausanne, I went to the famous gallery of Art Brut and was really amazed. I was thinking that for such exceptional collections, the establishment should provide wheel chairs, because after two hours of walking and staring at paintings your legs really start to hurt:). I hope I will return to that place soon.