Testing Democratic Reflection during the 2017 UK’s Televised Election Debates

A Real-Time Audience Feedback Tool to Engage with Political Debates 

Social media have multiplied the channels of sensory streams available to the public audience of political debates. But is this new “participation experience” truly informative? Do social media voices really capture the richness of citizens’ reactions while they are watching the political debates? 

The Democratic Reflection app is a new tool to actively involve the audience and make the televised debate experience more engaging and informative. The App allows to gather people feedbacks to the debate by asking them to press some digital cards who represent reflective statements on their viewing experience.  

Enabling real time viewers’ feedback with the Democratic Reflection App has three main objectives:

promoting active engagement by enabling the audience to react to the

televised debates in new non-intrusive, yet expressive, and timely manner;

harnessing and analysing viewers’ reactions to better understand the audience

and their debate experience;

providing new metrics to assess the debate as media event in terms of its

capability to engage the audience emotionally, intellectually, critically and democratically.

The App was previously tested in the 2015 Election Debates and it has now been improved following users’  comments and requests. This has hopefully helped us to develop a tool that replies to real citizens’ needs and provide an experience that is enjoyable and useful to everyone taking part to the debate. 

If you are interested to interact with the televised political debate in new ways, if you’d like to learn more on how you reacted to the speakers and the arguments you are going to witness, if you’d like to have insights on the televised debate as a collective democratic event, just take part to this experiment!

Join us on the 31st of May 2017 at 19.30 at: democraticreflection.org

What you need is just a smartphone, tablet or laptop, then go to the URL: democratireflection.org and sign up to Democratic Reflection.

Then sit back and watch the the BBCOne Leaders’ debate with the App ready to record your feedback.

After that you will be able to explore your personal and collective analytics to understand more about your experience and the one of other people watching the debate with you. 

Looking forward to see your feedback online!

Anna De Liddo & The EDV team!

EDV-related PhD studentship at University of Technology Sydney’s Connected Intelligence Centre

The University of Technology Sydney’s Connected Intelligence Centre (UTS:CIC) is offering three doctoral scholarships as part of the Centre’s doctoral program in Learning Analytics.

UTS:CIC, led by EDV’s  Simon Buckingham Shum, has as a mission “to invent, evaluate and theorise the design of human-centered data science and learning analytics (…) to nurture in learners the creative, critical, sensemaking qualities needed for lifelong learning, employment and citizenship in a complex, data-saturated society.


One of the 4 PhD topics proposed for investigation is directly based on EDV and supervised by Prof Buckingham Shum and our project’s Co-I  Anna De Liddo. Details on the topics, candidate description, and application guidelines are available at: https://utscic.edu.au/research/phd/

Tweet at: https://twitter.com/sbuckshum/status/838297389219758080

Rethinking Debates project kicks off with full-length feature on EDV


Earlier this week, EDV was the subject of a full-length feature in the  Rethinking Debates  project. This is the first of a global series of reports on the impact of technology on the electoral process, launched by Civic Hall, a US-based community centre for the world’s civic innovators.

After interviewing EDV’s PI Stephen Coleman from the University of Leeds, and the OU’s Brian Plüss and Anna De Liddo, Civic Hall’s Civic Engagement Fellow,  Christine Cupaiuolo,  wrote a great, passionate story that captures the spirit of the project and discusses in detail our research and tools.

The series will continue with stories on  debate  and  technology  projects around the world, and a comprehensive report will be released at a conference later this year.



EDV at ECA Lisbon 2015


Last week, I attended the 1st European Conference on Argumentation9-12 June 2015, in Lisbon, Portugal. EDV contributed a paper on our analysis of Fair Play: a semi-automatic method to determine how well participants in an election debate follow the “rules of the game”. In this case, the method uses democratic entitlements as the basis for these rules.


The slides of my talk are below (PDF). The full paper will be published in the conference proceeding early in 2016.

EDV at ACM TVX 2015

Las week, we presented Democratic Replay as a work-in-progress paper at TVX 2015, the ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences for Television and Online Video, held in Brussels, 3rd-5th June 2015.TVX brings together research and recent developments in academia and industry in a single-track joint venue. The conference opened with a keynote by Jacob Shwirtz, Chief Social Media Officer at Endemol Beyond USA, who talked about how social media are changing storytelling and the production of audiovisual entertainment (including this funny clip from The Late Late Show with James Corden). The closing keynote was by Marianna Obrist, Lecturer in Interaction Design at the University of Sussex (UK), who gave a very engaging talk about multi-sensory media experiences, showing how the connection of emotions with touch, smells and flavours could crucially change the way we interact with media in the future.


p179The papers, posters and demos in the conference of direct relevance to EDV fall in a range of topics, including manual, semi-automatic and automatic semantic annotation of video, synchronisation of broadcast media and hypervideo content among different devices, and the incorporation of user-generated videos to professionally-produced media content. We’ll expand on these technologies and explore how to apply them to EDV in a later post. 


Our paper “Engaging Citizens with Televised Election Debates through Online Interactive ReplaysPoster-TVX2015” presents relevant research at the intersection of citizenship, technologies and government / democracy, and describes the motivation, requirements and design of Democratic Replay: an online interactive video replay platform that offers a persistent, customisable digital space for: (a) members of the public to express their views as they watch online videos of political events; and (b) enabling for a richer collective understanding of what goes on in these complex media events.The paper was presented as a poster in the Work in Progress session on Thursday 4th June. Below is a 1-minute teaser presentation about our poster. The paper and poster are linked on the right. 

We look forward to TVX 2016 in Chicago, 22nd-24th June 2016!


TVX 2015 “Madness” Teaser – 5 June 2015

KMi turned 20!

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The OU’s Knowledge Media Institute turned 20 years yesterday, and the milestone was celebrated by gathering key people in the Institute’s history. With an agenda focused on celebrating the past but looking forward to the next 20 years, there were talks by the OU’s new Vice-Chancellor, Peter Horrocks; the Vice-Chancellor at the time of the creation of KMi, Sir John Daniel; KMi’s Director, Peter Scott; and some of KMi’s founders: Marc Eisenstadt, Tom Vincent and Kitty Chisholm.

The day concluded with an exhibition of KMi’s projects. We had a chance to show EDV’s Democratic Reflection and Democratic Replay to, among others, the OU’s VC. Having edited several General Election specials for the BBC in the past, Peter Horrocks took a focused interest in our project and even suggested ways in which we could offer functionalities and analytics especially suited for journalists and political analysts.

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Cover feature in March/April Issue of KMi Review

kmi-review-issue-2-2015EDV is the cover story of the latest KMi Review, the periodical publication of the OU’s Knowledge Media Institute presenting research highlights, awards, events and other news.

The article describes the research we carried out over the 2015 General Election leaders’ debates earlier this month, focusing on Democratic Reflection and on the elicitation of instant audience feedback.

You can download the entire issue by clicking on the thumbnail on the left.

EDV showcase at the OU’s Charter Day Learn About Fair

20150423_143203Last week, EDV had a spot on in KMi’s stand on this year’s OU Learn About Fair. The Fair, part of the University’s Charter Day on 23rd April 2015, is an opportunity for showcasing research and innovation across the OU.

Our stand featured the latest version of Democratic Replay with enhanced video replays of the recent ITV Leaders’ Debate and one last year’s Clegg-Farage Europe Debate.  Visitors also had a chance to watch the Leaders’ Debate while expressing their responses using Democratic Reflection on a tablet or smartphone.


2015 General Election debates announced

After months of extensive negotiations, broadcasters have finally announced their plans for leaders’ debates and similar events over the British Election Campaign.

As we discussed earlier this year, the main election debate will include the leaders of 7 parties: the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, UKIP, the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, and will take place on the 2nd of April.

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The agenda of events during the General Election campaign is as follows (source):

  • 26 March: Cameron and Miliband will be interviewed separately by Jeremy Paxman and then answer questions from the audience (also separately) in a special broadcast by Sky and Channel 4.
  • 2 April: the leaders of the 7 parties mentioned above will hold a 2-hour debate broadcast by ITV.
  • 16 April: the BBC will host “a challengers’ debate” with the leaders of the parties that are not currently in Government (the SNP, UKIP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and Labour).
  • 30 April: Cameron, Miliband and Nick Clegg will appear separately taking questions from the audience in a special of Question Time hosted by David Dimbleby from the BBC.

These plans give EDV two great opportunities to collect debate data and gather audience responses. We are planning to have a panel of 450 viewers using Democratic Reflections as they watch the 2 April debate live. Our plans for the 16 April challengers’ debate are still under discussion, but we’ll post about this soon.