I had the luck to attend the fourth and last session of the Workshop on youth participation in youth policies — participated by local administration officers to explore new ways to engage the youth in public affairs —, this one focused on the role of ICTs in youth participation.
The session had three parts: a first one consisting in a brainstorm of challenges and opportunities, a second one on tools an case analysis, and a third one on proposals, unreported because it looked very much like the first part, but rephrased.
The first part, excellently facilitated by Manel Ruiz i Victor Garcia from INDIC, was based on Edward de Bono‘s Six Thinking Hats, where you perform a brainstorm of ideas under a specific approach (“wearing a hat”) and repeat it for all different approaches (we actually only did it for four “hats”). These approaches or colour hats are:
- White: objective data, raw information. No feelings, no interpretation.
- Yellow: optimism, positive thinking.
- Black: what can go wrong. Caution, critical assessment.
- Red: emotions, feelings, intuitions.
- Green: possibilities, possible alternatives, creativeness.
- Blue: analysis, procedures, control.
These are the ideas, almost raw, unsorted, that came out of this session:
White: objective data.
- How many people have access to ICTs.
- How many public access points and usage level.
- How many people have a computer at home.
- How many hours connected.
- Cost of access to ICT.
- Have a mobile phone? What age do people begin to have a mobile phone?
- Can connect to the Internet through mobile phone?
- Main tools used and by age, gender, origin, income, education, etc.
- Main uses: get information, to communicate amongst themselves…
- Where people connect to the Internet and whether they do it alone or accompanied by others.
- At what time: what hour, what day(s).
- What is the legal framework in the use of these technologies, privacy, security, etc.
- Possibilities (features) of a specific tool.
- Digital competences: what is the level of digital competences of the user, and the level required by each tool.
- Value given to each tool by the user.
- Number and variety of tools, providers, costs of acquisition and/or customization, etc.
- Entry barriers: ease to set up an account, time cost of access, etc.
- ICT usage at schools.
- Political framework: prone to foster ICTs and online participation or not.
Yellow: positive aspects.
- Engage more people.
- Higher outreach.
- Positive regional spillovers, work in different geographic ranges.
- Immediacy on response.
- Break the institutional barrier.
- Continuous participation.
- Anytime participation and bottom-up initiated.
- Get more information about the citizen though data mining from participation tools.
- Plural participation: more people from more strata.
- Tools that highly motivate the youth, approach youth channels and ways, “speak in their language”.
- Information through participation.
- Generate a multicultural platform, a virtual community of youngsters.
- Alternative channels, complementary to other channels.
- Stable channel of communication.
- Returns of scale.
- Easy to update information, cost-effective error correction
- Generate a culture of participation, of engagement, which can lead to a culture of accountability and transparency.
- Enables networking.
Black: what can go wrong.
- Lack of knowledge of how tools work, or even that they exist.
- Difficult to catch-up with changes.
- Information overload, participation proposals overload.
- Time consuming.
- Crowding out effect.
- Loss of non-verbal language.
- Who owns personal data? Who is monitoring the conversations?
- Security and privacy hazards. Lack of awareness on a wrong use of ICTs.
- Banal participation.
- Participation rich in debate but leads to no conclusion or decision.
- Poor netiquette, impunity, cyberbulling.
- Digital divide: only those who have access and can use the tools can participate. And as access and usage depends on socio-economic status, participation is biased.
- Serendipitous participation: face-to-face participation makes it easier to know other initiatives or people by chance (e.g. when visiting the civic centre).
- Adjust expectations of the tool to what can actually be achieved with it.
- Mediated communication, not direct.
- That people that “should not participate” actually participate (non-identified people, not relevant to your proposal, etc).
- Many possibilities.
- Lack of self-confidence.
- Risk of hypes.
- Have to be there.
- Fosters egocentrism.
- Lack of commitment.
- Enables experimentation.
- Difficult to trust.
- Push own limits.