Reflecting on Design Methods and Democratic Technology Development: The Case of Dutch Covid-19 digital contact tracing application

Deger Ozkaramanli - Leerkes*, Armagan Karahanoglu, Peter-Paul Verbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article explores the idea that democratic technology development in public governance can be enhanced by adding an experiential dimension to it. Our work is situated in the context of an appathon organized by the Dutch government to initiate the development of a Covid-19 contact-tracing application. The appathon stimulated a multifaceted debate on technology design and societal values, and raised a crucial question: how can design methods enhance democratic technology development? To answer this question, we first identify three main democratic values (i.e., citizen participation, collective decision making, and critical engagement) that underpin three influential design methods: participatory design, adversarial design, and speculative-critical design. Next, based on design theory, we argue that these methods can bring three experiential qualities to democratic technology development: ownership, contestation, and imagination. We then situate this theoretical reflection in a reflexive thematic analysis of publicly available discussions that took place during the appathon. This makes it possible to identify opportunities to deploy participatory design, adversarial design, and speculative-critical design to engage citizens in political decision making directly and experientially. Based on our analysis, we highlight how abductive design reasoning may help iteratively deliberate sociotechnical challenges when using participatory design, adversarial design, and speculative-critical design. Ultimately, this paper explicates the role of design methods and practices in political participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-269
Number of pages26
JournalShe Ji
Volume8
Issue number2
Early online date18 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • UT-Gold-D

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