Having learnt a lot about the work done in argument visualisation as well as definition, creation and importance of deliberation in policy creation, I met with Stephen again, this time able to really talk about moving forward with the PhD. We talked about the work of Sack and Donath, my opinions about its usefulness and its specificity to USENET, as well as the many different aspects drawn together by Sack which could be used on different platforms: thesauri, social networking based upon text content rather than headers.
We talked about the level of deliberative quality of forums as discussed by Sack and the ways in which the form of deliberation may be different in different subject areas. We discussed Todd Graham’s study of deliberation on BBC, Guardian Unlimited and Wifeswap forum in which he showed that deliberation was not just confined to the “serious” subjects. We also discussed how the measurement of deliberation was dependent upon the way that we define deliberation and the impact of that on any study of deliberation that I may carry out. I talked about possible studies of different user groups using similar platforms and Stephen agreed that it was important not just to concentrate on technical constraints on deliberation but look for other possible impacting factors.
We talked about the potential to produce a blueprint for a deliberative participation platform, some way down the line, as a way to create content worthy of PhD, even though it is rare to get such practical applications in a thesis. The appropriateness of this will only become apparent after more research into existing and upcoming platforms and their relative strengths and weaknesses.
Moving forward, Stephen suggested that I start to identify systems and groups that are used for potential deliberative input and non-systematically analyse them (close read) for applicable qualities. We discussed systems such as cohere and debatewise.org. We talked about the usefulness of caching / archiving websites for future use – something I am keen to look into as I don’t want to miss any vital examples! I will also be exploring norms and expectations of deliberation in order to start to think about the definition and characteristics of deliberation against which I will assess participation strategies and platforms.