The second session was led by Ivan Serrano and myself, and presenting some preliminary results of a small research project we are both taking part in, along with other members of the GADE research group.
The goal of the session was to make a brief introduction to some web 2.0 tools and applications, and see how they had been put into practice in some localities. Our approach was neither to remain in the theoretical level nor to focus on the tool, but, on the contrary, to see what tools fit better in what participation purposes and goals.
Tools and applications
So, the first distinction I made was to tell tools (a way to do things, e.g. a blog) from applications (the different incarnations of tools, e.g. WordPress, Blogger, Typepad…). This distinction is relevant because we might find better applications for a specific use/tool than the most popular ones. Thus why focussing on the concept, not the service.
As we already explained in A catalogue and a taxonomy of online participation tools, we classified tools according to the following characteristics:
- Directionality, qualitative: unidirectional, bidirectional, hybrid
- Directionality, quantitative: one-to-one, one-to-many, many to many.
- Competences: basic, advanced, expert.
- Platform: phone, Internet, both.
Though I believe the Platform will be deprecated because of the increasing pervasiveness of smartphones, that render it quite irrelevant.
Concerning applications, the main classification types are:
- Kind of tool.
- Cost: free, freemium, payment.
- Hosting: installation, online service, both.
- Mashable: open API or similar.
The latter a last-minute addition and that might well explain part of the success of the most popular tools, as mashability enables ubiquity of the tool, thus making possible to bridge all the tools one is using.
Slides 6 & 7 show a simplified matrix where the above mentioned categories are crossed:
Ivan went on with the applied cases, among others the following:
- Ask Bristol, including
- Bristolstreets and
- Harringay Online.
- SYP (Scottish Youth Parliament).
- Linköping’s A clean city
- Cidade Democrática.
- Fix My Street
He ended up with some preliminary conclusions that came after the analysis of the preceding (and many other) participation initiatives. They seemed to be gathered in two groups and with different aims and characteristics:
- Initiatives aimed at community building, characterized by being open, relational, fostering engagement, using free tools and aiming at a networked participation.
- Policy oriented initiatives, characterized by being more formal (or formalized), focussing at decision-taking and representation, using own platforms and more “traditional” participation means.
Though all what we presented in this session is still in a draft stage, we believe that some interesting insights come from the e-participation experiences on the purposes-tools relationship. All in all, hi-engagement approaches demand more participatory and horizontal tools, and more top-down or traditional ones also demand traditional 1.0 tools. The error being, of course, first choosing the coolest 2.0 tool and then forcing the institution or the process to (against nature) adapt to the tool.
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2010) “Workshop on youth participation in youth policies. Monograph on ICTs (II): Tools, applications and cases” In ICTlogy,
#81, June 2010. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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