Developing ideas…

Having looked at a range of case studies and read some of the literature I have tried to formulate some ideas about my research, starting with the major themes that must be present in research about e-participation.

Participation: allowing the public to be involved in decision making and to have their voices heard (and acted upon); helping to educate the public about issues, providing resources and promoting informed opinion.

Deliberation: social and reciprocal conversation between individuals allowing them to illustrate viewpoints and form opinions; can help groups of individuals to reach a consensus.

Collaboration: allowing individuals or groups to directly contribute to a process (in this case policy or decision making); helps to build solutions that represent public views; helps to improve government by harnessing the relevant skills and resources of the public.

Technology: can be used to help create informed opinion (e.g. using argument visualisation); can analyse the level of deliberation in content (e.g. conversation map); can influence deliberation (interface design); can enable collaboration (web 2.0, the semantic web).

The thought that weighs most heavily on me when considering the above themes is that of interface design and its influence on the amount of deliberation, participation and collaboration allowed by a platform. How much of the quality, or lack of quality, found in e-participation efforts is down to technological determinism? Of course, many other factors are also involved: the communities attracted; the subject matter of debate; the resources and information supplied in support of a debate; the institution used (government, “third space” or “citizen generated” platform).

It seems as though, in order to truly analyse the technological interference of platforms on their contents one would have to take into consideration platforms that are comparable and contrasting examples in each of the above categories to get an accurate picture – national/EU government and local government platforms, community groups (geographically localised or vocation/age-specific), citizen spaces and those that Scott Wright calls “third spaces”. Comparable examples in these contrasting categories would need to be analysed for interface and structural characteristics, deliberative and collaborative nature of content and their level of integration in policy making as well as their accessibility and representativeness.


About birchallchris

Research Associate in the School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds, teaching digital media practice and theory to students on the BA/MA New/Digital Media programmes. I research digital citizenship, using innovative digital methods; trying to bridge the gap between vary large scale phenomena and the individual human.
This entry was posted in PhD, Research Notes, thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s