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 was originally designed with a focus on speculating about the future of digital public spaces such as current social media platforms. By now, we have also developed another framework for the speculation about the future of co-creative systems (creative human-computer collaborators). However, its structure and the provided templates can also be adapted for the speculation on other subjects.
This page provides you with a guideline on how to apply the framework. For this purpose we will stick to the topic of democracy and the digital public sphere. But as mentioned, any other topic could be plugged into the framework.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
This perfectfuturedesign future scenario tool KITs by Michel Hohendanner & Chiara Ullstein is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).