Digital Deliberation

2016 ~ Present


  • To develop web apps for online debates and collaborative problem solving.
  • Work experience in an interdisciplinary team.
  • Fun

What does the VIP Digital Deliberation do right now? We design, test, and iteratively improve the Reflect! platform.

What is Reflect!? A collaborative tool that structures deliberation and work on wicked problems in small teams.

What is a wicked problem? Wicked problems are challenges that can be framed in a number of different ways, depending on varying interests, world-views, values, or differences regarding the scale on which people think the problem should be addressed. Decisions on wicked problems often lead to serious conflicts because people do not understand that others look at the same problem from a completely different point of view.

What sort of problems are wicked? Health care reform, globalization, the increasing computerization of the workforce, global warming, or when a city plans a major construction like a stadium. These are just a few examples. Designing a simple door knob might also be a wicked problem if you do not take people with certain disabilities into account. Design problems are often wicked problems.

Why are wicked problems so hard to address? Being able to deal with wicked problems requires the ability to correct one’s own reasoning.

Why focusing on deliberation? Wicked problems can only be approached in collaboration with others. We need different points of view, and we need to learn from others.

Plans for a New Project

Research shows that social media algorithms, by promoting everything that promises to “go viral,” incentivize misinformation and the undermining of trust in science, government, and other institutions that are crucial for the survival of democracy. Permanent outrage and the formation of angry mobs that are always against something makes money for social media companies. In order to counter a development in which “the people” chose to destroy the foundations of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” without even knowing it, we want to develop an attractive online deliberation space in which people from across the globe can gain a grass-root experience of constructive debating and deliberating by creating something together in teams of various sizes.

Issues Involved or Addressed

  • How to make large-scale deliberation enjoyable, exciting, and productive?
  • How to design a system that supports reflection and self-correcting reasoning in teams?
  • What features are needed to connect deliberation to forms of community engagement and discourse?

Methods and Technologies

  • Graphic Design
  • User Interface Design
  • Usability Testing
  • Psychological Experiments
  • Surveys
  • Focus Groups
  • Javascript Web Development (e.g. React, GraphQL/Apollo, etc.)
  • Video production (marketing, tutorials)

Academic Majors of Interest

  • BusinessGeneral Management
  • BusinessMarketing
  • ComputingComputational Media
  • ComputingComputer Science
  • ComputingHuman-Computer Interaction
  • DesignIndustrial Design
  • EngineeringCivil Engineering
  • EngineeringComputer Engineering
  • EngineeringElectrical Engineering
  • EngineeringEnvironmental Engineering
  • Ivan AllenDigital Media
  • Ivan AllenLiterature, Media, and Communication
  • Ivan AllenPublic Policy
  • Other
  • SciencesPsychology

Preferred Interests and Preparation

Video production, Human-Computer Interaction, Industrial Design, Psychology, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Computational and Digital Media, Public Policy, Cognitive Science, Argumentation Theory, Semiotics, Political Philosophy, Organization Theory.

Background/interest in designing user interfaces and graphic design, visualization techniques, interaction design, usability testing, debate, deliberation, deliberative democracy, conflict management, decision making, eDemocracy, governance, mediation, education, wicked problems, web and back-end development.

Meeting Schedule & Location

Meeting Location 
Van Leer 465
Meeting Day 

Team Advisors

Dr. Michael Hoffmann
  • Public Policy

Related Sites