Design Principles for Civic Dialogue in a Post-truth Era
As co-ordinator of Frontend.com's DesignFix program, I selected the 'societal problem' of declining trust in public institutions (and resulting rise of populism) as the program's topic for 2018.
I connected and worked with international experts from diverse fields:
- civic tech (Publivate),
- civic designers (Center for Civic Design),
- politicians (Irish Senators and EU diplomates),
- AI (Atrovate),
- social media (Storyful),
- policy designers (Public Policy Lab & EU PolicyLab), and
- Cork County Council.
Through these conversations, I developed a design challenge for DesignFix's partner universities - students were given the scenario of rural dwellers whose way of life is particularly vulnerable to political, economic and social trends and asked them to consider a positive future scenario for this population. Students who showed great vision in this project were invited to Frontend.com's Dublin studio for a three day explorative workshop, working with many of the experts identified above as well as the Frontend.com design team.
The numerous ideas and concepts that grew out of this workshop shared many similar themes around transparency, universal access, data sensitivity, and leveraging existing platforms and channels.
It became clear that as a small design consultancy, who lacked a sponsor partner but had built a large number of interested parties, our most impactful contribution to this problem would be to take our insights gathered from a year's worth of research and develop design principles for governments, social media and civic tech practitioners who are creating channels for citizens and government to interact.
RESULT: Upon writing this white paper, I have been asked to speak at civic tech and design conferences internationally. I have met with, and advised, people who work for a large social media platform as well as representatives from local and national governments on civic engagement. The paper was also published in Iterations Design Review Journal (Jan 2018), and resulted in the Moot design concept.