Christopher Ben Wilson
Christopher Wilson studies the use of digital technology for citizen-state interaction, with a focus on the normative conditions that facilitate meaningful interaction, and metrics for determining the quality of interaction. His doctoral work explores the social factors that shape government decisions to adopt and implement digital civic engagement practices in advanced democracies. This work is grounded in social constructivist understandings of international norms, with a special focus on the obstructed policy transfer in the Open Government Partnership.
Christopher co-founded The Engine Room (https://theengineroom.org), where he led applied research on the role of technology in advocacy from 2010-2015, and supported the use of data and evaluation frameworks by international organizations, country-level advocacy initiatives, trainers and technologists. Prior founding The Engine Room, he worked with civil society organizations as a communications officer in the UNDP and through the International Freedom of Expression network, IFEX. Christopher is currently strategic research advisor to the HIVOS program on transparency and accountability, and advises the Norwegian parliamentary monitoring organization Holder De Ord on organizational development. He has performed as the national researcher in Norway for the Open Data Barometer, evaluation of Norway's Open Government Partnership implementation, and other comparative indices. He blogs on the state of civic technology research and research methods at https://methodicalsnark.org.
- Incentives for governments to pursue direct engagement with citizens via digital technology
- Impact of digital technology on the quality of citizen state interaction, government accountability and responsive governance
- Influence of medio- and micro-level contextual factors on the implementation and outputs of civic technology, such as institutional cultures, socio-political power dynamics, historical factors, civil society capacity and traditions for citizen-state interaction,
- Strategies underpinning specific types of citizen-state interaction, including participatory budgeting, citizen complaint platforms and e-petitions.
- Ways in which the civic technology, tech for accountability, open government and other relevant communities define and distinguish themselves, and the consequences this has for direct engagement between civil society and government
- Appropriate and experimental methods for assessing the process and impact of civic technology and citizen-state interaction, especially the use of novel and mixed methods and the production of comparable indicators across national contexts
- Capacity of civil society and government actors (methodological, technical, human, financial) to conduct rigorous evaluations and assessments of civic technology and citizen-state interaction, producing data that is both scientifically sound and useful for the adaptive management of such work.
- Professionalization and digitization of civil society organizations.
Christopher led the development of NORCAP international humanitarian roster from Oct 2015- to April 2016 (http://norcapweb.no/). Prior to that he worked as the co-director of The Engine Room (https://theengineroom.org), an organization he co-founded in 2010. As research lead at The Engine Room, Christopher led projects documenting processes of technology-driven advocacy in over a dozen countries, provided support to national and international advocates integrating technology into their work, and coordinated a global network of organizations and experts working to understand the ethical implications of data-driven advocacy (see https://responsibledata.io). Christopher also regularly published peer reviewed articles during this time, including work on digital media in the Egyptian protests of 2006, and the processes through which activists and NGOs in sub-saharan Africa choose technological tools. Prior to founding The Engine Room, Christopher worked as Communications Analyst for UNDP,supporting county efforts to generate governance data for policy processes and social accountability, while advocating internationally for a country-led approach to measuring governance.
Christopher holds a Masters Degree in the Theory and Practice of International Human Rights Law from the University of Oslo Law Faculty and a Bachelors of Arts in Rhetoric and Communication, from the University of California Berkeley.
Wilson, C., & de Lanerolle, I. (2016). Test It and They Might Come: Improving the Uptake of Digital Tools in Transparency and Accountability Initiatives. IDS Bulletin, 41(1), 113–126. https://doi.org/10.19088/1968-2016.110
Wilson, Christopher. 2014. “« Do No Harm »: Samtykke Og Personvern I Krise ?” (2):253–62.
Tufekci, Z., & Wilson, C. (2012). Social Media and the Decision to Participate in Political Protest: Observations From Tahrir Square. Journal of Communication, 62(2), 363–379.
Wilson, C., & Dunn, A. (2012). Contingency and Hybridity in the Study of Digital Advocacy Networks. International Journal of Information Communication Technologies and Human Development, 4(2), 61–80. https://doi.org/10.4018/jicthd.2012040105
Wilson, Christopher, Dunn, Alix. 2012. Contingency and Hybridity in the Study of Digital Advocacy Networks: Implications of the Egyptian Protest Movement, in Human Rights and Information Communication Technologies: Trends and Consequences of Use. New York: IGI Global
Wilson, C., & Dunn, A. (2011). Digital Media in the Egyptian Revolution: Descriptive Analysis from the Tahrir Data Set. International Journal of Communication, 5, 1248–1272. Retrieved from http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/1180
Wilson, Christopher. (2011). Facebook in Egypt: April 6th and the Rise of A New Political Sphere, in Emerging Digital Spaces in Contemporary Society. London: Palgrave Macmillan
- Karlsrud, John & Wilson, Christopher Ben (2008). Changing Roles: China, Africa and the Strategic Power of Dialogue. Vreng. Adbuster Magasin. ISSN 1504-0526.
- Hustad, Richard; Andreassen, Bård A. & Wilson, Christopher Ben (2006). Justice and Human Rights Initiative: Report of the Workshop on Developing Justice and Human Rights Indicators.