Democratic Reflection: first user testing event

democratic-reflection-logo-welcomepageYesterday evening, a group of 12 OU postgraduate students and members of staff watched the second of Clegg-Farage 2014 Europe debate while they tested the first version of Democratic Reflection, a digital implementation of the audience feedback method we piloted with flashcards last year.



DR-mobileDemocratic Reflection is available as a mobile web application, that participants could access from their laptops (below), and smartphones or tablets (right).  The set of statement was chosen based on the democratic entitlements identified by the focus groups carried out by the Leeds early in 2014  (see also EDV Project Briefing 1).


Preliminary results of the exercise are encouraging, in line with the outcomes of the pilot – especially in terms of engagement with the tool and affordance of the choices. After the debate, we held a group discussion on the users’ views of the experience, the tool, the statements and so forth. Doubtlessly, these insights will be of utmost importance as we further develop Democratic Reflection in time for the pre-election debates later this year.

Prof Stephen Coleman interviewed about election debates on Radio 4


Stephen ColemanEDV’s Principal Investigator, Prof Stephen Coleman, was interviewed yesterday by Martha Kearney for BBC Radio 4’s World at One. As political parties and broadcaster negotiate this year’s election debates, Prof Coleman explained how and why voters feel entitled to full televised debates between the party leaders. Listen to the interview below or follow this link.

The EDV team grows larger



Starting next week, the EDV team at the OU will grow a bit larger. Alberto Ardito, from Politecnico of Bari, will joins us for three months to work on the development Democratic Replay over the busy period leading up to the UK 2015   General Election.



Alberto’s tasks will aim at taking the current prototype and the latest design visuals (right) and implementing a hypervideo replay platform with interactive visualisations according to the diagram below. The technologies he will use include Node.js, Bootstrap, MongoDB and the D3.js visualisation library.




7-party General Election debate format proposed by broadcasters

7-party TV debate

The latest proposal from the broadcasters is encouraging. Two of the debates will involve seven parties that might end up playing a part in some sort of post-election coalition or pact. This reflects the extent to which the idea of coalition politics has become embedded over the past five years. In 2010 the televised debates were called ‘Prime Ministerial Debates‘; in 2015 people are being invited to watch with a view to thinking about which parties might be able to work together in the likely event of a hung parliament.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 11.36.35I commend the broadcasters for having the courage to state that they’re prepared to go ahead even if one of the parties refuse to participate. An ’empty chair’ policy is compatible with democracy; everyone should be invited to state their case, but those unwilling to do so shouldn’t prevent the others from stating theirs.

The coming weeks will be an exciting period of testing the innovative technologies that we will be launching during and after the election.

EDV talk at Leeds’ Political Communication Research Group


Last Thursday 16 October, Leeds’ Political Communication and the OU team members presented EDV at a Political Communication Research Group seminar in the School of Media and Communication of the University of Leeds. Details of the event and links to the slides are available below.

Election Debate Visualisation Project

This event took place on 16th October 2014 at 5pm.
School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds, UK.

Stephen Coleman, Giles Moss, Anna de Liddo & Brian Plüss

Election Debate Visualisation Project – PCRG Talk – 16 October 2014

[PDF Slides]

EDV at the Workshop on Collective Intelligence for the Common Good


On Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 September, EDV joined the Workshop on Collective Intelligence for the Common Good held at The Open University’s London Campus. The workshop was chaired by EDV members Anna De Liddo and Simon Buckingham Shum, Doug Schuler (Evergreen State College & The Public Sphere Project), Fiorella De Cindio (University of Milan) and Mark Klein (MIT Center for Collective Intelligence).

Pluss-DeLiddo-BuckinghamShum The event was aimed at defining a roadmap and making the first steps towards establishing an Action Community Network on Collective Intelligence focused on common good issues. Attendees (see bottom of the page) from a wide range of disciplines were invited to contribute an issue paper and to make short oral presentations that were followed by intensive discussions (see Programme).

EDV presented an issue paper titled “Collective Intelligence Meets the Political Agenda: Enhancing Election Debates to Foster Viewers’ Engagement” discussing the aims and challenges of the project in the contexts of Collective Intelligence and the common good. Below are the slides of the talk.

Collective Intelligence Meets the Political Agenda: Enhancing Election Debates to Foster Viewers’ Engagement – 29 September 2014

[PDF Slides]

The first three EDV Project Briefings are out

We have released the first three issues of a a series of project briefings, intended to disseminate different aspects of our research to a general audience.

  • Briefing 2014.01 describes the findings of focus group research into voters’ thoughts, concerns and desires in connection with televised election debates.
  • Briefing 2014.02 presents our vision on how technology can help address some of the issues citizens raised at the focus group meetings.
  • Briefing 2014.03 takes on one of the voters’ concerns and describes a technique to help debate-viewers detect communicational strategies from the politicians that could result manipulating or confusing.

EDV briefing 2014.01

EDV briefing 2014.02

EDV briefing 2014.03

We are already working on two further issues which will be placed under Results shortly. Briefing 2014.04 describes a novel approach to letting viewers have a say during the debate. Briefing 2014.05 discusses designed visualisations as a means to enhance the viewing experience and foster voters engagement with election debates.

Paul Wilson’s seminar at the OU’s Knowledge Media Institute


Design has a role in working for the ‘common good’, playing a significant part in our engagement with the world and, within the Election Debate Visualisation project, working to translate data into compelling, engaging and illuminating stories. The design thread within the project has begun to investigate visual methods for rapid and semiotically-holistic feedback, and is beginning to work on exploring ways to map argument to dynamic landscapes of information. We’re keen to critically question the rhetoric of ‘neutrality’ around information design: what role can beauty play? Is an aesthetically-pleasing experience something which is commonly recognised as an accessible one? We’re also keen to establish and test the visual needs of audience members in novel ways – maybe this will lead to the need for an inbuilt ‘bias’ to the design? We welcome any thoughts or comments on these questions.

In the context of his visit to the OU, Paul Wilson from the EDV Leeds team gave a seminar in KMi on Tuesday 29 July. Details of the event, a podcast and links to the slides are available below.


Designed visualisation: good design doing good?

This event took place on 29th July 2014 at 11:30amWilson-KMiInternalSeminar-Speaker Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, UK

Paul Wilson

The talk will introduce ideas around design as an agent of change and how designed visual communications can operate within the field of argument visualisation.The opportunities present within the the EPSRC-funded platform for Election Debate Visualisation in 2015 allow for design to (re)invent within an area of critical need, situating the power of design and data visualisation in the service of telling compelling, engaging and illuminating stories to the audiences of the Prime Ministerial debates. Focusing on the inherent tensions between neutrality and visual clarity, and the power for beautiful design to allow of accessibility, the presentation will outline some challenges for the team in the creation of research tools, interfaces and visualisations and will touch upon some thoughts around methods for making and methods for testing the platform’s design prototypes.



Designed visualisation: good design doing good? – 29 July 2014

[PDF Slides]

EDV at the SICSA Workshop on Argument Mining 2014


Earlier this month, EDV joined the SICSA Workshop on Argument Mining 2014 held at the Centre for Argument Technology of the University of Dundee, Scotland.

The focus of the meeting was on the semi-automatic and automatic extraction of arguments from unstructured natural language text from the perspective of information extraction, information retrieval and computational linguistics. The first session was opened by Prof Marie-Francine Moens, head of the Language Intelligence and Information retrieval (LIIR) research group of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.

Pluss-DeLiddo-BuckinghamShum The rest of the workshop included a series of short talks by the contributing groups and a day-long joint task aimed at putting together a report on the state of the art of argument mining, the challenges and avenues to tackle them, and possible applications. The report is currently under preparation and will be published online shortly.

As well as contributing to the joint report, the EDV team at the Open University presented a position paper titled “From Argument Mapping to Argument Mining, and Back” which links argument mining to argument mapping and visualisation, with applications to citizen engagement in televised political debates, learning analytics and collective intelligence for the common good. Below are the slides and a podcast synchronised with the audio of the talk.

From Argument Mapping to Argument Mining, and Back – 9 July 2014

[PDF Slides]

EDV Talk at the SICSA Workshop on Argument Mining – 9 July 2014

EDV seminar at the OU’s Knowledge Media Institute


The OU team presented EDV at a seminar in KMi last Thursday 19 June. Details of the event, a podcast and links to the slides are available below.


The Election Debate Visualisation (EDV) Project

This event took place on 19th June 2014 at 11:30amEDV-KMiInternalSeminar-Speakers Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, UK

Simon Buckingham Shum, Anna De Liddo & Brian Plüss

During the 2010 UK general election, the first ever televised Prime Ministerial debates took place. Research and pilot work in KMi and at University of Leeds demonstrated the interest that this sparked in the public, their need for more understanding of the issues, and the potential of mapping the debates in visual ways. In 2015 the next election is anticipated with public debates. The 3 year EPSRC-funded Election Debate Visualisation (EDV) Project [] will take this opportunity to investigate new ways in which the public can replay the debates, and engage more deeply with the issue and arguments at stake. In this talk, we will reflect on the current experience of watching debates, summarise key findings from citizen focus groups, show how we have prototyped a new kind of richer audience feedback and video annotation interface (using the televised/streamed Clegg-Farage EU Debates as an example), and indicate where we’re going. Your thoughts on this are most welcome.



The Election Debate Visualisation Project – 19 June 2014

[PDF Slides]