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Democracy in MotionEvaluating the Practice and Impact of Deliberative Civic Engagement$
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Tina Nabatchi, John Gastil, Matt Leighninger, and G. Michael Weiksner

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199899265

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199899265.001.0001

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Online Deliberation Design

Online Deliberation Design

Choices, Criteria, and Evidence

Chapter:
(p.103) 6 Online Deliberation Design
Source:
Democracy in Motion
Author(s):

Todd Davies

Reid Chandler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199899265.003.0006

This chapter reviews empirical evidence bearing on the design of online forums for deliberative civic engagement. Dimensions of design are defined for different aspects of the deliberation: its purpose, the target population, the spatiotemporal distance separating participants, the communication medium, and the deliberative process to be followed. After a brief overview of criteria for evaluating different design options, empirical findings are organized around design choices. Research has evolved away from treating technology for online deliberation dichotomously (either present or not) toward nuanced findings that differentiate among technological features, ways of using them, and cultural settings. The effectiveness of online deliberation depends on how well the communicative environment is matched to the deliberative task. Tradeoffs, for example between rich and lean media and between anonymous and identifiable participation, suggest different designs depending on the purpose and participants. Findings are limited by existing technologies, and may change as technologies and users co-evolve.

Keywords:   online deliberation, forum design, rich media, lean media, anonymous, identifiable, participation, co-evolve

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