Sprucing-up the Deliberatorium

One of the technologies that we will be testing in our experiment is the Deliberatorium. The Deliberatorium is one of the original collaborative argument mapping tools. It was developed at MIT by Mark Klein around 8 years ago and has been used successfully in a number of online discussion.

The Deliberatorium structures discussions significantly. Instead of being allowed to write whatever they desire, participants are encouraged to contribute following a specific structure. Participants can offer a single idea, raise a single question, or offer an argument in favor (PRO) or an argument against (CON). The argument structure is then visualized in a map that allows users to find information easily and visualize the number of arguments in favor or against particular ideas.

The advantage of the Deliberatorium , may also be its shortcoming: it promotes a very rational discussion that sterilizes loud and repetitive voices, and accounts for each idea and relevant , pros and cons only once. This is what makes it easier to navigate compared to standard comment platforms.
The existing Deliberatorium had a user interface that was very primitive so the first order of business of our project was to meet with Mark and figure out a way to transform an interface designed for academic purposes into one that is attractive to the public.

We decided to run a first design workshop in Portugal, because that is where I am based in and can tap into a local community of developers and practitioners of deliberation. This design workshop lasted one week and involved both members of my other project called EMPATIA, students at the University of Coimbra that work on deliberation and professionals from One Source the technology provider of the EMPATIA workshop. The result of this intense process was the creation of two redesigned interfaces, one inspired by the MAC philosophy of exploring files horizontally and one inspired by Google Play that works both horizontally and vertically.

This is just a first step and now Mark and Cristina Carnevali, our new team member specialized in UI , user interface, will collaborate on the upgrade of the interface so that it is mobile ready and engaging, while at the same time retaining the rigor and depth of the Deliberatorium.

Deliberatorium explained on wikipedia.

This is the past appearance of the deliberatorium:

Paolo Spada