Shakuntala Banaji's brilliant presentation (the only presentation I saw during the event which contextualised itself in terms of the three elements of the event: Youth, Politics & New Technology) raised the question of whether civic society research, and included in this e-democracy researchers, are looking to support a citizenship which believes all (citizen) action oriented to political change is the excercise of Citizenship, or whether we are looking to a vision of citizenship with an implicit of explicit notion of citizenship as 'political action oriented towards an (imagined) public good'?
One reply made the suggestion “The role of the researcher is not to endorse one view or the other, but is to understand.”. Nonsense.
(1) E-democracy research involves looking at projects that take place. It often involves helping set up and pilot those projects.
If asked to pilot a program supporing to support a group of right-wing campaigners in political co-ordination that could realisitically lead to success – would you?
(2) No e-democracy tool is entirely neutral. There is no view from nowhere.
If designing/piloting a re-purposable e-democracy tool that could either have a functional bias towards generating 'public good' outcomes, or that could be functionally designed to leave equally open morraly abhorent outcomes (or, more mildly for example, was designed to prioritise generating conflict without providing the means for its resolution) – could you be neutral with respect to which it is preferable to create?
The researcher has to implcity endorse one approach or another when the researcher is involved in pilots. And surely, in the interest of integrity – that implicit endorsement is better off in the open and subject to exploration itself.
(Caveat: (2) needs a bit more development / explication – although I think it contains a solid enough argument to warrant being included. Do not let it distract from the intuition between (1) though.)