D-CENT: Networked Models of Democracy

Our final deliverable of D-CENT project has been released: Networked Models of DemocracyIn this work we analyse two different online platforms for democratic and deliberative processes. We first assess the collaborative process of building the Municipal Action Program in Barcelona within the platform Decidim.Barcelona. Then, we examine how deliberation is affected in the online platform Menéame by the change of the way in which discussion threads are presented to users.

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Sourcehttp://dcentproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/D2.5-1.pdf

Disclaimer: This report is currently awaiting approval from the EC and as such cannot be not considered as final version.

Executive Summary:

This document is the final D-CENT deliverable in WP2: Network driven data analysis, modeling and
visualisation. The research presented here, grounded in findings from previous deliverables about
collective intelligence, data analysis, and data visualization, examines networked models for democratic
participatory processes. The deliverable is structured in two chapters:

  • The first chapter contains the assessment of Decidim.Barcelona, the new online platform where
    citizens from Barcelona collectively decide the strategic city plan. First we discuss the
    technopolitical context that explains the development of this participatory process in Barcelona.
    We then describe the main functionalities of the platform as well as the principles and objectives
    of the process. These principles are evaluated by analysing and visualizing data from
    Decidim.Barcelona. In particular we present a comprehensive analysis of the online sphere
    (proposals within the platform), offline spaces (physical meetings), and the connection between
    both.
  • The second chapter reflects on how collective behaviour on this kind of platform is affected by
    the way information is presented. Features such as web and interaction design will have an
    influence on the structure of arguments that build the dialectical debate. This structure is crucial
    since decision-making processes (e.g. voting a proposal under discussion) will be biased by the
    way in which people acquire information from the debate. This reflection motivates an
    experiment for a similar case study, which gave us the unique opportunity to analyse the effect
    of a change in the user interface in a similar platform to Decidim.Barcelona. Our findings,
    obtained through statistical data models, prove that the new interface for discussions, showing
    discussion threads in a hierarchical view, promoted rhizomatic structures and increased
    participation. Since this is the interface adopted in Decidim.Barcelona, our empirical results
    validate the platform design as ultimately favoring deliberative processes.

 

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