The July DwD hosted a mixed group of designers, curious citizens and community activists to engage in the inquiry and workshop Exploring Values in Digital Democracy. The primary purpose of the workshop was to explore questions of values and positions openly to inform the design of the Nova Agora prototype and contribute to new model of digital citizenship. The focal questions for the session were:
- How might we better address policy disputes through citizen-led democratic practices?
- How can we deliberate in democratic processes through sharing values?
- How can we better employ “digital citizenship” to understand values commitments we may share in common?
Rationale. Today, adherents of mainstream political parties are unable to even speak with one another about issues of critical importance to their collective futures. Policy controversies, such as debates on globalization, abortion, or immigration, have polarized to become intractable disputes. A lack of diversity or mobility, filter bubbles, social media echo chambers, and targeted advertising amplify this polarization. Digital feedback reinforces entrenched positions. Then, the more positions polarize, the more a simple policy controversy moves towards policy conflict and ruptured public discourse.
Approach. Jenny Whyte and Natalija Vojno facilitated July’s DwD with a workshop, a process and prototype. They presented Nova Agora, a citizen’s digital service and research platform, designed as a peacebuilding tool to deconstruct policy disputes by reframing how issues are expressed and interpreted, from positions to values, thereby facilitating connection, catharsis, and understanding.
The workshop was open for any citizens interested in fostering respectful discourse, self-awareness, and moral based reasoning. Participants engaged in several activities designed to draw out and deliberate on the values important in political decision making (specifically the set advocated by Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind from moral foundations theory). Values and political positions were explored through dialogue, embodied acting, and small group work.
Patricia Kambitsch sketched the summaries and process as seen in the final story map. (Click to enlarge)
People were asked to visit the Nova Agora site in advance of the session and take the survey on positions or the survey on values. Both of these resources remain open and available for others to review and the design team would welcome further feedback and insights on the process.
Nova Agora Team
Natalija Vojno (contact natalija.vojno at gmail.com)
MSc Water Resources Management, UNESCO-IHE
Natalija has worked on freshwater protection across government, non-profits, and start-up systems. Internationally, she facilitates youth inclusion at global events like the Budapest Water Summit and the World Water Forum.
Most recently, Natalija has launched two peace-building initiatives.
Jenny Whyte OCADU Strategic Foresight and Innovation, MDes
Using the design tools learned in the SFI program she aims to tackle wicked with a human-centered approach.
She is currently winding up to defend her thesis exploring how better understanding ‘the self’ might encourage social change.