Three ideas for blending digital and deliberative democracy

Theo Bass – Nesta

Discussions of the application of digital to democracy tend to get bogged down quite quickly in the (limited) merits and (extensive) risks of online voting. A more promising approach is to look at ways in which digital technologies can support and amplify democratic processes, more to do with deliberation and engagement than with quantification. This is still new territory, so experimental approaches still make good sense, but as this post brings out, there are now enough of those experiments around the world to start to group them and to see common opportunities and challenges.

Behavioural science Service design

Research heresies

Will Myddelton

‘Start with user needs’ has been the mantra of digital government since the early heady days of GDS. It’s a thought which is simple, powerful and – this post argues – wrong. Or, more accurately, unhelpful: it’s a concept which both lacks precision in its own right and risks being too tightly coupled to the construction of solutions.

This is not some random hit job, but a deeply reflective post which brings out clearly where user research most adds value, by being still clearer about where it doesn’t. In doing so it draws out a point which is relevant and important to a much wider audience. It positions user research as a means of reducing risk – and that is important not just as a way of helping senior decision makers see the value in it, but because basing decisions on unexamined and untested assumptions leads to bad consequences (and has been doing since long before government was digital).