The UX of democracy - first part

Nov 4 – Nov 11

Brief: Design an experience that addresses the democratic process.
Partners:
Xiyun, Carol, Jialing, Riezan 

In this project, we were asked to design an experience that addresses the democratic process. The first thing that comes to mind when trying to come up with a design for democracy is the voting process. However, we wanted to focus on something that would affect people even before they vote. Since our group was quite diverse considering the democratic processes in our home countries, we decided that each member would come up with an idea and present it, and then we would vote on our favourite one.

Voting process.

Because the outcome of our voting was a tie, we started a discussion about the way democracy works in different countries, why young people do not vote, why people do not educate themselves before voting and so forth. We concluded that we would like to design something that would encourage people to participate and think critically.

Making and testing of our model.

We therefore decided to look at two paradigms of democracy, the first one being the participative democracy (interactive governance), where citizens are asked to cooperate with the government, and the second one the deliberative democracy, where you need to give the information, time and a range of options to the citizens in order for them to make an informed choice. The latter focuses on exchanging arguments and is made up of a so called ‘mini-public’, which consists of a group that represents the population and is more selective about who participates, as you need the skills to present an argument and debate public issues. Although both methods are different, they do have some similarities, so we combined the two and came up with the idea to create a safe physical space where people would have debates. That would evoke critical thinking and encourage opinion formation and dialogue.

Our debate space model.

After establishing what we want to focus on, we created a model that showcases a space open to people who want to share and discuss their opinions. We created a model for a movable and collapsible (pop-up) debate space that would move to different locations and therefore enable more people to participate. The idea behind was to create a room for each participant with its own entrance and adjustable visibility so that they can control their anonymity. Participants would then discuss the previously given topic. The debate would be recorded and posted as audio on a digital platform. This would allow more citizens to participate and learn about the broadcast topics. We believe that this architecture conveys the importance of good political dialogue and decisions.

References

Abelson, J., Forest, P., Eyles, J., Smith, P., Martin, E. and Gauvin, F. (2003). Deliberations about deliberative methods: issues in the design and evaluation of public participation processes. Social Science & Medicine, 57(2), pp.239-251.

Bonsiepe, G. and Fezer, J. (n.d.). Design and democracy.

Design Commission, (2015). Designing Democracy: How designers are changing democratic spaces and processes. Available at: http://www.policyconnect.org.uk/apdig/sites/site_apdig/files/report/497/fieldreportdownload/d esigningdemocracyinquiry.pdf (Accessed: 7 November 2019).

Floridia, A. (2013). Participatory democracy versus deliberative democracy: elements for a possible theoretical genealogy. Two histories, some intersections. In 7th ECPR general conference, Bordeaux pp.4-7.

Oslender, U. (2007). The resurfacing of the public intellectual: towards the proliferation of public spaces of critical intervention. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 6(1), pp.98-123.