the kit

Plus-Gitter

The Digital Democracy Workshop Kit is a toolbox that enables users to organize and conduct workshops within digital environments as well as physical spaces. The kit is designed with a focus on speculating about the future of digital public spaces such as current social media platforms. Nevertheless, its structure and the provided templates can also be adapted for the speculation on other subjects.

The provided workshop material can both be used for a digital or physical workshop setting.

If the planned workshop is to be held digitally, you will need some tools to get the most out of the digital environment. Essential prerequisites are that you enable all participants to communicate and discuss with each other, to develop concepts together and to visualize them collaboratively. To make our concept and templates usable for a wide range of digital tools, we provide them in different formats below. We encourage you to do your own research to find out which tools are best suited for you and your purpose. In the course of our first purely digital workshop we used Skype for communication and Figma for collaborative design work. Both come free to use (April 2020). Please note that no sponsoring or other collaboration has taken place with the mentioned tools and associated companies.

If the planned workshop is to be held in a physical location, all brainstorming and concept templates can easily be printed and used physically. Please find all material below.

Workshop Host: You are interested how the digital public sphere might evolve in the future? Or how we might form our opinion, share our thoughts or communicate with each other in 10 years from now? Then this workshop kit is made for you!

Participants: Workshop participants are at best interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and intercultural. Getting a as divers as possible group together enhances changes that divers values, thoughts and beliefs are considered in the speculated future scenarios. Because this workshop method emphasises the potential of speculative design as a method, designers, who visualize the speculated ideas, are needed as workshop participants.
Our concept of the speculative design workshop comprises the following four phases. Each phase includes different methods and tasks. Inbetween each phase a longer pause is adviced.

The kit and the provided materials for each phase are designed for a 1.2 day workshop. More specifically, we conducted a one day workshop covering phase I, phase II and parts of phase III. Phase III is mainly intended to be worked on and concluded at home after the workshop by the workshop groups. Phase IV takes place as a final presentation (and makes up the 0.2 day) where the workshop groups present their created projects.

To understand how the workshop – whether digital or in physical space – should be divided and conducted according to our concept, please take a look at the following structure and its components:

The provided workshop material can both be used for a digital or physical workshop setting.

If the planned workshop is to be held digitally, you will need some tools to get the most out of the digital environment. Essential prerequisites are that you enable all participants to communicate and discuss with each other, to develop concepts together and to visualize them collaboratively. To make our concept and templates usable for a wide range of digital tools, we provide them in different formats below. You will also find SVG files for further editing and distribution in the spirit of the open source idea. We encourage you to do your own research to find out which tools are best suited for you and your purpose. In the course of our first purely digital workshop we used Skype for communication and Figma for collaborative design work. Both come free to use (April 2020). Please note that no sponsoring or other collaboration has taken place with the mentioned tools and associated companies.

If the planned workshop is to be held in a physical location, all brainstorming and concept templates can easily be printed and used physically. Please find all material below.
Workshop Host: You are interested how the digital public sphere might evolve in the future? Or how we might form our opinion, share our thoughts or communicate with each other in 10 years from now? Then this workshop kit is made for you!

Participants: Workshop participants are at best interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and intercultural. Getting a as divers as possible group together enhances changes that divers values, thoughts and beliefs are considered in the speculated future scenarios. Because this workshop method emphasises the potential of speculative design as a method, designers, who visualize the speculated ideas, are needed as workshop participants.

Our concept of the speculative design workshop comprises the following four phases. Each phase includes different methods and tasks. Inbetween each phase a longer pause is adviced.

The kit and the provided materials for each phase are designed for a 1.2 day workshop. More specifically, we conducted a one day workshop covering phase I, phase II and parts of phase III. Phase III is mainly intended to be worked on and concluded at home after the workshop by the workshop groups. Phase IV takes place as a final presentation (and makes up the 0.2 day) where the workshop groups present their created projects.

To understand how the workshop – whether digital or in physical space – should be divided and conducted according to our concept, please take a look at the following structure and its components:


PHASE I
DISCOVER
OVERVIEW
In the first phase it’s all about getting to know the method of speculative design and the issue at hand, here: the digital public sphere.

AIM: Introduction to method and theory.
DURATION
3 hours

Phase 1 fits very well for a morning session until lunch break.
STRUCTURE
  1. Welcome + Introduction
  2. Presentation on the Method: Speculative Design
  3. Warm-Up Speculation
  4. Presentation on the Theory: Democracy and the Digital Public Sphere
  5. Speculation on the Future of the Digital Public Sphere and Brief Discussion
  6. Grouping
PHASE I
– 01 –
WELCOME +
INTRODUCTION
After welcoming the participants, we like to jump right into the topic of social media to get a feeling for the participants and to get them to know each other. Therefore, we use our Getting-to-Know-Coordinate Systems. Each participant is asked to assign himself/ herself to the appropriate position in the coordinate system and explain briefly.

Social-Media-Activity-Coordinate-System: Participants are asked to tell the group about their social media usage and whether they consider themselves to be active or passive users.
Social-Media-Virus-Perception-Coordinate-System: Participants are asked to indicate how they perceive the role of social media in times of the Covid-19 pandemic and whether their social media usage has changed due to the virus situation. This coordinate system is very specific to the Covid-19 situation, but can of course be adapted to another issue of interest.

It could furthermore be interesting to ask participants about their sources of information and note them down.
Social Media Activity Coordinate System
Social Media Covid-19 Perception Coordinate System
PHASE I
– 02 –
PRESENTATION ON THE METHOD:
SPECULATIVE DESIGN
The first presentation is on Speculative Design. Given the interdisciplinary workshop group, introducing the method of speculative design is important to get everyone on board.

Presentation slides concering the basics of the method can be found in the workshop kit.
PHASE I
– 03 –
WARM-UP
SPECULATION
Methods like speculative design seem nice in theory, but are better understood if tried out and experienced first hand. To do so, participants are asked to speculate on given questions.
Toolbox_WarmUp
Toolbox with Sticky Notes, Arrows and Stars for Working on Posters
Speculation Poster on the Future of Social Media
Future-of-Information-Technology
Poster on the Future of Information Access
Poster on the Future of Communication
PHASE I
– 04 –
PRESENTATION ON THE THEORY:
DEMOCRACY & THE DIGITAL PUBLIC SPHERE
After the warm-up speculation the group is ready for a second talk. This presentation is meant to give all workshop participants the basic knowledge of the topic of interest: digital public spheres and how they relate to democracies. Presentation slides concering the basics of the theory can be found in the workshop kit.
PHASE I
– 05 –
FOLLOW-UP SPECULATION +
BRIEF DISCUSSION
Now, it’s time to go back to the warm-up speculation posters and do another round of speculation on the future of the digital public sphere. Given the new information input, it is valuable transfering the freshly gained knowledge into some speculations before loosing all inspiration over the lunch break.

After about 20 minutes, a discussion about the ideas helps to identify the main topics of interest of the group. Additionally, the workshop participants get to know each other better. Usually, we form workshop groups around the main fields of interest.
PHASE I
– 06 –
GROUPING
The groups are formed based on the identified topics of interest. It should be paid attention to an equal group size. Additionally, at least one designer should be part of a group.

Now, the groups are set for a one hour lunch break.
PHASE II
SPECULATION
In the second phase the workshop groups speculate about how the future regarding the topic of interest might look like.
OVERVIEW
In the second phase the workshop groups speculate about how the future regarding the topic of interest might look like.

AIM: Speculation on a future scenario and conception of one influential future product.
DURATION
3 hours
STRUCTURE
  1. Task Description
  2. Speculation
PHASE II
– 01 –
TASK DESCRIPTION

To prepare the workshop groups properly for the upcoming speculation phase, first, the task should be explained. For the next 3 hours the participants will work in their groups on speculative future scenarios. Aim of this phase is to come up with products that have a significant influence on the speculated scenario. Therefore, each group is provided with its own (digital) posters.

To begin, the groups are asked to go back to the warm-up speculation poster and copy and paste those issues that are especially interesting to them to their group board, here called the discussion monitor. This poster serves as ideation sheet and provides the group members with a space to store any ideas throughout the group discussion. Now, there are two methods to get from loose ideas to a concrete speculative future scenario:

I: The team members find a common topic of interest from their sticky notes on the discussion monitor (e.g. infodemic). This topic of interest is inserted into field 1 on the future scenario map. Usually, this is a fairly broad topic and can further be specified. Therefore, the group breaks down the topic of interest by (in the case of a workshop on the digital public sphere) identifying a public related factor (e.g. fake news) for field 2 and an influencing factor that is influencing (controlling/ manipulating/ expanding/ nurturing/ confining or containing) the development of the public related factor for field 3 (e.g. virus). This step helps to better understand the issue of interest. Now, the group imagines a future 10 years from now and speculates how the public related factor and the influencing factor might have evolved (field 4). How does a future scenario look like? The last steps are equal for both methods.

II: The team members discuss the copied sticky notes from the warm-up speculation and find one specific futuristic idea that they would like to pursue. To explore the idea, the group jumps directly to field 4 on the future scenario map and outlines how the future scenario around their specific idea looks like. The last steps are equal for both methods.

Now the group speculates about a specific product or service that could have a significant influence on the speculated scenario (e.g. changing it for the better). This product will be the product that the group will advertise and visualize as web page later on. In field 5, the group notes down what consequences the product could have on the speculated scenario in areas like society, the political sphere, economy and ecology. Not all, but the most important aspects should be outlined.

PHASE II
– 02 –
SPECULATION
While the groups speculate, it has proven helpful to join the groups about every 25 minutes. Especially in virtual workshops, this allows the workshop host to get a better feeling for the groups’ progress and allows the workshop participants to clarify doubts without having to approach the workshop host.

Phase 2 transitions without any meeting of the entire workshop group into phase 3. Each workshop group should manage it’s own time and take enough breaks.
PHASE III
PROTOTYPING
OVERVIEW
In the third phase the workshop groups create a product that has an influence on the speculated future scenario and visualize it.

AIM: Visualization of Product
DURATION
1,5 hours
STRUCTURE
  1. Prototyping
  2. Closing the workshop day
PHASE III
– 01 –
PROTOTYPING

Now, the groups visualize their product ideas as web pages. A ready-made landing page framework provides them with a guideline on which information to include on the webpage. The groups may use the provided framework as basis for their webpage or design one that better suits their purpose.


The visualization of the products in the form of a product web page, requires the groups to provide easy understandable information on their product. This secures that the presentation of the invented product is accessible to a broad audience.


The workshop day ends after the groups have sketched an outline of the webpage and distributed tasks to each group member. The webpage is finalized until the final presentation approximately a week later. Furthermore, it has to be made clear that each group should present their product as if they were pitching it to the relevant customer or investor. This type of presentation helps the audience to immerse themselves better in the scenario.

PHASE III
– 02 –
CLOSING THE WORKSHOP DAY
To close the workshop day, the entire workshop group meets and each group briefly presents their speculated future scenario and the invented product. It is not necessary to present the outline of the webpages.
PHASE IV
DISCUSSION
OVERVIEW
In the fourth phase the products are presented and their impact is discussed with the audience. Lessons learned for today’s time are derived.

AIM: Presentation & Discussion
DURATION
2 hours
STRUCTURE
  1. Product Pitch
  2. Open Discussion
PHASE IV
– 01 –
PRODUCT PITCH

About a week later, the entire workshop group meets to pitch their products. We have made the best experiences with introducing a role play method to the presentations, meaning that the groups pitch their products to imaginary customers or investors. After the pitch, each group has to answer questions from the perspective of the product’s company or institution.

PHASE IV
– 02 –
OPEN DISCUSSION

After all pitches the role play ends and the discussion round starts. Everyone is invited to share thoughts on what effect the product had on oneself: Did it trigger something and if so what?  Did the scenario surprise the viewer or what was the first thing coming to mind?

– XX –
AFTER THE WORKSHOP

As discussions are usually very fruitful, we publish the created webpages and the group processes online. This allows the discussions to go on and an even broader audience to have access to the speculated scenarios and products.

DOWNLOAD SECTION

This perfectfuturedesign future scenario tool kit by Michel Hohendanner & Chiara Ullstein is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

  1. Full Kit (ZIP containing FIG + PDF)
  2. Workshop Templates (ZIP containing FIG)
  3. Presentations (PDF): Introduction / Speculative Design / The Digital Public Sphere