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A Collaborative Framework to Improve Public Participation Practice

Aulia Akbar, Johannes Flacke, Javier A Martinez, Martin van Maarseveen

In Indonesia, an annual participatory planning practice called Musrenbang is implemented to produce village development plans through public meetings. Being an obligatory process, Musrenbang is often poorly implemented due to problems such as power relations and disagreement among stakeholders. Enabling the stakeholders to find common understanding through knowledge integration is crucial to minimize these issues. As most villages do not have proper maps, we developed a collaborative spatial learning methodology to enable the village stakeholders to participate in the mapping process. Through the mapping exercise it is expected that we can support production of the village maps, and contribute to integrate stakeholders’ spatial knowledge; helping them to minimize the power gaps and to find common understanding through social learning experiences. Ultimately, it is expected that the developed methodology will improve the Musrenbang implementation at village level.

 
 

Participant’s View: Do our Methods Help Pursue PD Ideals?

Sara Klüber, Franzisca Maas, Anna Hohm, Jörn Hurtienne

Participatory Design (PD) has long been described as a way to democratize technology development by involving those affected by the outcomes. Besides a good fit of technology as the outcome, PD allows participants to ‘have a say’, and supports ‘mutual learning’ and ‘co-realization’. A diverse range of PD methods has been developed, but there is a shortage of empirical studies showing whether (and why) these methods help pursue PD ideals. We therefore report on a case study of a short-term evaluation approach that may exemplary close this gap, and that allowed us to gain more knowledge on how our method affected participants. Participants perceived moderate to high feelings of ‘having a say’, ‘mutual learning’, and ‘co-realization’. In future research, mutual learning may exemplarily be improved by introducing a changing peer-to-peer procedure to the method. The evaluation may further be advanced by taking expectations into account.

 
 

Participation through substituting and refusing

Sarah Robinson, Nicola J. Bidwell, Laura Maye, Nadia Pantidi, Conor Linehan

Asking participants to explore and critique prototype technologies by using them in the real-world settings of their communities is a common approach to democratizing design decisions. We report on a project that sought to seed a rural community radio station, and simultaneously test and refine an innovative radio technology. Living on a remote Irish island, community members saw value in the local radio contributing to the island’s sustainability and oral history preservation. The novel, but not yet stable, prototype radio platform, however, did not enable them to produce content within the time constraints and quality requirements they considered vital to their goals. In response community members substituted the prototype platform with a more stable and familiar setup. We reflect on participants’ refusal and argue that their technology substitution helped us not only to understand user and technical needs, but also meanings about participation that are integral to ensuring the genuine design democratisation.

 
 

Fighting Back Algocracy: The need for new participatory approaches to technology assessment

Timothy C. Kariotis, Darakhshan J. Mir

City, municipal, and state governments around the globe are increasingly looking towards algorithmic solutions to long-standing and difficult problems in governance. We use the term algorithmic governance to capture this increasing use of predictive and other algorithms to provide efficiencies in the targeting of services and government processes. However, in the course of pursuing these efficiencies, openness, transparency, public accountability, and community-based deliberation, key pillars of democracy, come under threat when decision making is black-boxed in an algorithm. Furthermore, algorithmic governance (for example, in domains like welfare management) typically exacerbates the marginalization of the most disadvantaged in society, while simultaneously making such marginalization invisible to the larger citizenry. A hybrid technology assessment (TA) comprising of elements of both participatory TA (that involves public debate about technology) and constructive TA (that involves co-construction of technology between society and designers) employed through the framework of engineering technology for social justice, may help address these challenges.

 
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