BY ANTONELLA NAPOLITANO:
"In a post for the MIT Center for Civic Media blog, researcher Erhardt Graeff draws a distinction between participatory democracy and monitorial democracy:
The latter is completely dependent on continued practice of representational democracy, and it's through the identification and critique of legitimate or illegitimate representatives of the people wherever they lie—government, industry, the media, etc.—that monitoring takes place. This is key because we tend to hope that monitorial citizenship can be a kind of participatory democratic practice...
In Italy, an independently developed initiative called "Monithon" is trying to foster online citizen observation and reporting on the development of projects funded by the European Union, a topic of particular interest at the moment given it is only a week from the European Parliamentary elections. Monithon, which comes from "monitor" and "marathon", promotes citizen monitoring of projects funded by the Cohesion (aka. Regional) Policy in Italy.
The project is related to OpenCoesione, a website developed in 2012 by the Italian Department for Development and Economic Cohesion, that is dedicated to sharing financial data regarding European Union-funded projects in Italy.
Here's how the process works, as explained on the Monithon website:
The Italian government releases the information on the projects funded and on the beneficiaries of the subsidies as open data. All the data is integrated with interactive visualizations on the national portal of OpenCoesione, but the OpenCoesione Monithon initiative takes this transparency further: it asks citizens to actively engage with open government data and to produce valuable information through it.
But there are many monitoring initiatives that have been started by citizens all over the world. How is Monithon different?
First of all, the initiative is not a top-down project, but neither did it begin as a bottom-up effort, says Luigi Reggi, co-founder of Monithon, where he works on a voluntary basis, and a policy analyst at the Department for Development and Economic Cohesion.
This "hybrid" project comes from inside the public administration. It was the idea of a group of civil servants that was then presented to the Italian open data community and which then flourished independently, Reggi tells techPresident in a phone interview.
The other peculiarity of Monithon is that it is focused not only on spending but also on EU Cohesion policy, Reggi continues. Since the programming documents and strategic goals are available, it is not only possible to monitor public spending, but also whether it matches the strategic goals of the public institutions. “Something you won't find on USAspending.gov, where you find data only on public spending,” he notes." (http://techpresident.com/news/wegov/25011/monithon-monitoring-marathon-citizens)