Designing Political Deliberation Environments to Support Interactions in the Public Sphere

CHI, pp. 3167-3176, 2015.

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Keywords:
public spheredesignmiscellaneoussocial mediapolitical deliberation
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We have developed a new political environment that can help people more effectively engage in political interaction in the online public sphere, building on previous work on designing for deliberation while taking into account the experiential data derived from our politically mi...

Abstract:

Little is known about the challenges and successes people face when piecing together multiple social media to interact in the online public sphere when: seeking information, disseminating information, and engaging in political discussions. We interviewed 29 US citizens and conducted 17 talk-out-loud sessions with people who were using one...More

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Introduction
  • Social media tools hold promise as valuable online environments for citizens who wish to engage in the political deliberation process.
  • Social media tools allow people to interact with others in various ways in the social sphere, as human capabilities are often enhanced via the ability to explore, connect, exchange and coordinate to a much greater degree than is available offline [11].
  • As social media continues to be widely adopted, the authors believe that they could be valuable tools for supporting people who wish to actively engage in the political deliberation process.
  • Social media technologies have varying affordances, and as such, depending on a user’s civic goals, one technology may be better suited to achieving their goals than another
Highlights
  • Social media tools hold promise as valuable online environments for citizens who wish to engage in the political deliberation process
  • We describe an empirical study where we sought to understand how and under what circumstances people were using multiple social media technologies to engage in the online public sphere
  • Engaged users are aware of the sprawling nature of the online public sphere and have developed strategies to deal with it
  • We have developed a new political environment that can help people more effectively engage in political interaction in the online public sphere, building on previous work on designing for deliberation [e.g. 33, 37, 39] while taking into account the experiential data derived from our politically minded informants
  • 1) To what extent can technology address a lack of political engagement? What model of political interaction is most conducive to positive interaction— hybrid, online-only or face-to-face?
  • Given that people are using multiple social media to interact in the public sphere, Poli could serve as a channel that can help people with the daunting task of traversing multiple platforms
Methods
  • The data presented in this paper is from an on-going larger study in which the authors are following social media users across several political elections to understand how they use social media to participate in the political deliberation process.
  • This element of the larger study is longitudinal, including interviews and in-lab talk-aloud observation sessions as data points
Conclusion
  • Issues and Workarounds One of the primary interactions in the public sphere, as described by Dahlgren [6], deals with people’s ability to engage in rational and reasoned political discourse.
  • The authors utilized the findings to formulate requirements for, and develop a new, social media environment devoted to political deliberation—Poli—taking into account the real world experiences of those who were able to string together multiple tools to suit their deliberation goals across the “sprawling” public sphere
  • Poli at this point is in the initial design and prototyping phase.
  • This may not hold true for elections, as people will typically vote by party, but other topics exist that are considered political where people may feel they have an opinion, but could change as a result of exposure to alternative ideas, facts, and opinions, when presented in a rational manner
Summary
  • Introduction:

    Social media tools hold promise as valuable online environments for citizens who wish to engage in the political deliberation process.
  • Social media tools allow people to interact with others in various ways in the social sphere, as human capabilities are often enhanced via the ability to explore, connect, exchange and coordinate to a much greater degree than is available offline [11].
  • As social media continues to be widely adopted, the authors believe that they could be valuable tools for supporting people who wish to actively engage in the political deliberation process.
  • Social media technologies have varying affordances, and as such, depending on a user’s civic goals, one technology may be better suited to achieving their goals than another
  • Methods:

    The data presented in this paper is from an on-going larger study in which the authors are following social media users across several political elections to understand how they use social media to participate in the political deliberation process.
  • This element of the larger study is longitudinal, including interviews and in-lab talk-aloud observation sessions as data points
  • Conclusion:

    Issues and Workarounds One of the primary interactions in the public sphere, as described by Dahlgren [6], deals with people’s ability to engage in rational and reasoned political discourse.
  • The authors utilized the findings to formulate requirements for, and develop a new, social media environment devoted to political deliberation—Poli—taking into account the real world experiences of those who were able to string together multiple tools to suit their deliberation goals across the “sprawling” public sphere
  • Poli at this point is in the initial design and prototyping phase.
  • This may not hold true for elections, as people will typically vote by party, but other topics exist that are considered political where people may feel they have an opinion, but could change as a result of exposure to alternative ideas, facts, and opinions, when presented in a rational manner
Funding
  • This research was funded by NSF award No IIS-1064852
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