Organization

Citizen Journalism

Pattern ID: 
805
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
91
Lewis A. Friedland
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Hernando Rojas
University of Wisconsin
Version: 
2
Problem: 

For democracy in a complex society to work well, journalism is necessary. Citizens need information about the political, economic, and cultural systems that structure their lives in order to act on them effectively. However, traditional news institutions have had major failures in their ability to adequately cover new

Context: 

Distributed information on the web opens new possibilities for citizen information. Some say that we at the

Discussion: 

The magnitude and interest in Citizen Journalism is quite new, although forms of it have existed through much of modern history. The pamphleteers of the American Revolution were, in their way, citizen journalists. Many of the newspapers that cropped up in the 19th Century were started by non-professionals, who saw a need in local communities and began publishing a mix of news, advertising, and gossip. Newspapers were professionalized in the 19th Century, leading to a relatively independent corps of journalists oriented to fact-based "objective reporting. But professionalization also discounted the underlying truth claims on one side or another and led to a decline of independent judgment and, sometimes, support for the status quo.

Beginning in the 90s, public or civic journalism constituted a major reaction to this state of affairs. The movement grew from the principle that while news organizations could and should remain independent in judging particular disputes and advancing particular solutions to problems, they ought not to remain neutral on democracy and civic life itself. About of a fifth of all American newspapers and some television stations experimented with civic journalism from the early 90s to the early 2000s, but other pressures subverted it.

By the mid-1990s, the web began to offer a different alternative. Blogging offered new networks of opinion writing, as well as criticism of traditional media outlets. Some considered it journalism, others editorializing or soapboxing. But, what was clear was that the new writing could carve out its own space of attention on the web (although it remained dependent on the reporting of the mainstream media).

Citizen journalism as a distinct movement emerged in early 2000s. Journalists like Dan Gilmor, left the San Jose Mercury News to start Bayosphere, an independent journalism blog. At the same time, political blogs grew rapidly in number and influence on both left and right sides of the political spectrum. The emerging practices of citizen journalism run the gamut from new forms of audience participation in traditional media to citizen expression in the blogosphere In terms of content they alternate fact-oriented reporting of locally based participants in the context of a global network, to self-expression of opinion. What defines citizen journalism, then, is not specific content, a given business model or a form of reporting, but rather a networked structure of storytelling that is based on the following premises: a) openness of information; b) horizontal linkage structures rather than vertical flows of information; c) blurring lines between content production and consumption; d) diffused accountability based on reputation and meaning, rather than on structural system hierarchies.

One of the best examples of a mainstream media institution practicing citizen journalism is the Spokane Spokesman Review (www.spokesmanreview.com/) which systematically incorporates the views of Spokane's citizens in every aspect of its reporting, from hard news to sports. The Review has even put its morning news meeting on the web.

Another strand of citizen journalism is a hybrid, in which professional and citizens interact in the production process. The exemplar in this realm is Ohmy News (www.ohmynews.com) from South Korea whose motto is "Every Citizen is a Reporter." Ohmy News has a paid editing and reporting staff that works on 200 plus daily submissions from citizens. More than 40,000 citizens overall have contributed to the site. U.S. Sites like the Twin Cities Daily Planet (www.tcdailyplanet.net) and the Voice of San Diego (www.voiceofsandiego.org) are seeking to replicate its success, and Ohmy News is investing in its International site. Recently, Jay Rosen in PressThink (http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/) has proposed New Assignment, a hybrid model in which citizens will submit issues and topics they want to see reported on, and professional editors will pursue the story along with citizen journalists.

The Madison Commons project in Wisconsin has developed another type of hybrid model. The Commons project trains citizens to do neighborhood reporting and gathers reporting from mainstream media aggregates it on a local web site. (www.madisoncommons.org). Another good example of academic/citizen partnerships is represented by Mymissourian (www.mymissourian.com), in which journalism students serve as editors for citizen journalists.

Finally, the blogosphere emerges as a massive example of citizen journalism as part of a large conversation that either makes or comments on the news. Of course blogs, their content, their significance and recognition vary widely, from general blogs of professional journalists like Gilmore’s to pundits on the left and right, to community level aggregators to more personal expressions (www.baristanet.com/).

Citizen journalism allows anyone who wants to contribute to public debate as an active participant. There are a number of relevant motives: the intrinsic enjoyment of interviewing, reporting and writing. The civic rewards of contributing informed knowledge to a larger public discussion and debate. And the reward of building an alternative institution, whether local news alternative or worldwide public.

First, citizen journalism offers the ability to collaborate to make many small contributions to what is essentially an ongoing conversation among many people, most of whom do not know each other than through the common project. Second, the so-called "wisdom of crowds," holds that many people know more than a few, that even experts only have limited knowledge, and that a broad open domain with many contributors will produce useful and valid knowledge.

Third, and closely related to these, is the idea of "the people formerly known as the audience." (Rosen and Gilmore). This is to say that the audience for news media (media in general) is no longer passive. Rather it is an active group that will respond in a continuum to the news, ranging from simple active reading, linking and sending stories to friends via email and lists, and commenting on stories, to contributing factual knowledge that can flesh out or correct a story, to actual writing as citizen journalists. Across all these levels of activity citizens become more engaged with their communities.

An active and engaged citizenry can expand the range of topics discussed, and improve the quality and extent of information about any given issue, by opening it up to anyone involved. Citizen journalism creates the possibility for civic action to be deliberative instead of hierarchical. By participating directly in the production and dissemination of journalism citizens help, even in small ways, to set the news agenda.

Alternatives to citizen journalism such as face to face community level deliberation exercises and electronic dialogues are both important and complimentary to citizen journalism, but they lack the fact-based component which is critical to democracy and that should not be solely in the hands of traditional media.

For citizens to use this pattern, there are a number of things they can do. They can go to websites like www.j-lab.org to find out how to begin doing citizen journalism themselves, and have access to many tools and examples. The best overall resource for thinking about citizen journalism is Press Think (www.pressthink.org) which also links many layers of citizen journalists, mostly in the U.S. Those interested in the international movement can go to Ohmy News International (http://english.ohmynews.com) or Wikinews (www.wikinews.org). There are also web resources such as the News University that where originally conceived to enhance the training of journalists, but that can also improve the journalistic skills of citizens (www.newsu.org).

There are three main challenges to citizen journalism: sustainability, inclusion and traditional journalism. Probably the biggest challenge to doing citizen journalism is sustaining a distributed enterprise that requires time, attention, and skill, from both producers and contributors/readers. A second challenge is to avoid ending up in many small communities of group monologue rather than in a broader community dialogue. And finally, citizen journalism may accelerate the erosion of traditional journalism without replacing it with a new model powerful enough to center attention on core social problems, in a society that is already highly distracted.

Nevertheless, is appears that a pattern that brings together the networked discussion of citizens in the blogosphere with fact oriented reporting will be a more fitting model to build a vibrant public sphere than the centralized and hierarchical model of the printed media and mass television that we have now (Maher, 2005). Benkler (2006) has made a powerful argument that the baseline for our evaluation should be the mass media model that has, in many ways, failed to report on the most critical issues of our day, not an idealized model of citizen journalism. Further, for the foreseeable future, they will continue to complement each other, willingly or not.

Solution: 

Build new models of citizen journalism, nationally, internationally, and locally to create new forms of reporting and public accountability. In local communities, build information commons to support the active learning and participation of citizens in changing the traditional media ecologies to ones that blend the best of citizen and traditional media. For individuals, learn new skills of reporting via the web, and become an active reader, commenter, and contributor.

The citizen journalism pattern is already being realized world-wide. Its beauty is that is only takes a sufficient number of citizens with access to technology and an interest in some story. Citizen journalism is growing daily as the increasing number of projects worldwide and the expanding blogosphere attest. Whether it will continue to grow will depend upon the solutions posed by these projects to the challenges of sustainability and inclusion. Although it is early to asses the impact of citizen journalism it would appear that in Korea it has served to open the political spectrum and in the United States to redefine the news agenda. It remains to be seen, whether, and how, citizen journalism can develop in non- democratic countries. At least in theory it could represent an important pathway in the development of a networked civil society that brings about democratization change.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Citizens need information about the political, economic, and cultural systems that structure their lives. This is usually produced by journalists — but citizens can be journalists. The beauty of Citizen Journalism is that it only requires: citizens with dedication, skills, and access to networks, and an audience for the news they produce. Citizen Journalism represents an important opportunity for the realization of democratic change.

Pattern status: 
Released

Service-Learning

Pattern ID: 
428
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
90
Norman Clark
Appalachian State University
Version: 
2
Problem: 

The people who are the most affected by the digital divide typically need to access information from nonprofit organizations. However, most NPO's do not have the time, personnel, and/or skills to create and maintain web sites. Thus, the service-oriented information needed the most by lower income community members is often not online. In addition, many lower-income community members lack the skills necessary to effectively use web sites. Finally, data supporting the local impact of the digital divide is often insufficient or even non-existent.

Context: 

This problem has a unique solution in regions surrounding college campuses with service-learning programs.

Discussion: 

The groups most likely to be impacted negatively by the digital divide are paradoxically the groups that need access to basic service-related information the most. Quite often, members of these groups also lack the skills needed to use the Internet effectively. In addition, nonprofit organizations (NPO's) often have the information needed by these disadvantaged groups, but also paradoxically are unable to make this information available online. The needs of both groups are in conflict, and create a context in which it is extremely difficult for either group’s needs to be met. Digital Divide Impacted Groups’ Needs: * easily accessible and up-to-date information * interaction with service providers * appealing design * intuitive navigation systems * training NPO's Needs/Lacks: * personnel to put information online while still meeting clients' needs * additional time to create and maintain web pages * knowledge and skill to create effective web sites * funds to pay for server space or a webmaster One possible solution is for the NPO's to rely on a volunteer from the community to create and maintain a website. However, relying on volunteer labor for web sites is risky, due to the turnover rate and varying skill levels of volunteers. What is needed is a pool of skilled, but cost-free, assistance. One place to find this pool is on college campuses with service-learning programs. Service-learning is a pedagogical method designed to link course content with external experiences. Students learn the course-related materials through traditional learning in the classroom and through practical projects in and with the community, as well as about the reality and significance of the social issues faced by the community; while simultaneously providing a service to the community by meeting specific needs of the agencies or the populations with which they work. A service-learning class intentionally links the content of the course to a relevant NPO's goals. Students benefit from the chance to apply their skills to a real problem, and to learn about the needs of the community; while the NPO's benefit from the chance to have some of their goals and needs met, and to influence the next generation of leaders. In the long run, research has shown that students who take part in service-learning courses feel a greater sense of connection to their local communities, as well as an understanding of their interdependence with their neighbors. Connection and interdependence are building blocks of responsibility, and responsible citizens are in turn the building blocks of strong communities. The initiative for a service-learning course can come from a number of different places. Individual professors can choose to use this pedagogical method in their courses, universities may require service-learning in certain classes, or community agencies may propose projects that fit with the learning objectives of a class. Regardless of the source, effective service-learning requires collaboration between the members of the community and the academic institution: it should be done WITH the community, not ON the community. The goals and needs of the community must be combined with the goals and needs of the course. This process of collaboration is often facilitated by offices on the campus specifically designated to assist with service-learning. The service can take one of three forms. 1) Direct service: students work with the community members served by local agencies. In the case of the digital divide, students in a wide range of courses could train local community members to access and evaluate online information. This training could be done at the local library, senior centers, retirement homes, elementary schools, and any other locations with the necessary facilities (connected computers). 2) Indirect service: students work with the local community agencies to provide them with some needed assistance, which indirectly benefits their clients. In the case of the digital divide, students in web design courses can be required to create and/or update web sites for local NPO's, or run workshops training agencies representatives to maintain their own sites. 3) Community-based research: students (with faculty support) conduct research for and with a local community agency. In the case of the digital divide, people trying to change the existing systems sometimes lack the hard evidence needed to prove that a problem exists. Students in a wide range of research-methods courses could conduct survey research into the impact of the digital divide at the local level. But most importantly, the impact of a service-learning course goes beyond the immediate project: it results in changed lives. This is because a critical component of any service-learning course is reflection. Research shows that we don't really learning anything from experience (we often make the same mistakes repeatedly); we learn from thinking about our experiences. Students in service-learning courses are required to reflect on their experience in rigorous, thoughtful, and evaluated ways. This process drives the learning home, increasing the integration of knowledge they have gained in the present course with the way they live their lives in the future. For example, to create web sites, students must understand the agency, which means they must research the role that the NPO plays in the community, the populations that it serves, and the social issues that underlie its mission. This research helps students understand how critical access to the right information is for everyone, and how information is always related to power. Putting students in contact with members of the local community can also help dispel stereotypes. Students' easy access to computers often leads them to mistakenly believe that the digital divide is just a "Mercedes divide." Requiring students to work with underfunded and understaffed non-profit agencies, who are themselves working with disadvantaged groups, can open their eyes to the very real informational needs in the communities in which they live.

Solution: 

Service-learning provides a way to use the resources of a college or university to meet real community needs, such as designing web sites for NPO's or training community members to effectively access and evaluate information online. Students can create valuable resources for the community while simultaneously becoming more aware of the social issues in that community. This ensures that once people are able to cross the digital divide, they will find the local information that they need, and not just more places to shop. This also creates the possibility for the next generation of leaders to have a better understanding of the information needs of their local community.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

While many important community issues are ignored, higher education often focuses on abstractions. It can miss the myriad issues that are everywhere. Service-learning connects learning and research to practical projects. In relation to the online world students could maintain web sites for non-profit organizations, train agency representatives to maintain their own sites, and train community members to access and evaluate online information.

Pattern status: 
Released
Pattern annotations: 

Experimental School

Pattern ID: 
837
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
89
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)
Steve Schapp
United for a Fair Economy
Thad Curtz
The Evergreen State College
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Schools can become institutionalized and non-responsive to the real needs of their students, the community or, even society at large. Schools with static and immutable assumptions and values are unlikely to meet society's changing needs. This is particularly unfortunate at a time when the need for public problem-solving is the most acute. If schools aren't innovative and if people don't seriously think about how education can play new roles in new ways, it's unlikely that the society will be innovative in cultural, technical, scientific, or civic thought or action. Schools also tend to assist privileged subsets of society. Typically, older people can't attend school, nor can poor people, working people, or rural people. Many colleges and universities (at least in the US) are more becoming commercially-oriented, thus promoting economic aggrandizement of individuals and corporations while ignoring the common good.

Context: 

Any situation where education or some type of "schooling" is necessary. This pattern has almost universal coverage because learning is a universal phenomenon. Humans are built for learning!

Discussion: 

For this pattern we can define an experimental school as a school that broadly attempts to accomplish certain aims (such as social and environmental amelioration) while adopting experimentation as an abiding and guiding orientation. This implies that the school is not perfect and it affirms that the school will at least try to adapt to changing societal circumstances and needs (while maintaining its values). Moreover, it will work towards its goals through a thoughtful experimentation that involves careful and ongoing evaluation of the approaches that the school is trying.

School according to John Dewey should be an experiment in collective action and it should break down walls between academia and practical work. Although this pattern is quite broad (and actually contains several patterns in their own right), several themes or trajectories stand out that support Dewey's contentions whether the student is ten years old or eighty, or whether the student is classically educated or illiterate. Adopting an "experimental" orientation reflects a belief in meliorism — that things can improve through directed effort — and an acknowledgement that nothing is perfect; the need for adjustment is an unavoidable and normal fact of life. Beyond that, the general orientation is compassionate engagement and integration with the world. In a general but non-dogmatic way, an Experimental School would be concerned with the common good, it would stress solidarity and activism. It would be much more permeable — the boundaries between the institution, between teacher and student, between theory and practice and between the academic disciplines themselves and the disciplines and the other systems of knowing that people have devised, would all be less distinct and more forgiving. Additionally there would be more variety as to when and where the educational setting would be and who was eligible to take part. Costs would be as low as possible to encourage everybody to attend. Education is not just for some small segment of the population who are destined for power, prestige and money. The following table, admittedly over-generalized, highlights some of the ways in which a "modern" university can be contrasted with an Experimental School.


  University Model Experimental School
Site Centralized, stationary, and formal Various locations, movable, informal
Student body Elite, all same age Open to anybody, life-long learning; mixed classes
Assessment Defined by faculty, etc. consists of tests, grades Self assessed by student as well as by faculty member through oral and written narrative evaluation.
Curriculum University-directed, discipline-based, disciplines kept separate Student-directed, inquiry-based, discipline boundaries blurred and broached
Role of teacher / role of student Authoritative / receptive ("empty vessel") Teachers and students are both co-learners
Costs Expensive for middle and lower income people Free
Instruction mode Lecture Peripatetic, seminar, group work
Credential granting Often the most important reason for attending Doesn't necessarily grant credentials. Learning is primary.
Focus On the individual On the group or community
Goals Learning facts, getting degree Learning how to learn, thinking across the curriculum
Faculty Credentialed with PhD Knowledge, skill, values, commitment, and values are as important as credentials
When 2 semesters or 3 quarters per year; no summer with established beginning and end dates for unit of time, Weekdays, 9:00 to 5:00 Weekdays, evenings, anytime
Theory and practice Kept separate ("practice is for trade schools") Integrated

Walter Parker believes that "Idiocy is the scourge of our time and place" (2004). Idiocy was defined by the ancient Greeks to mean the state of being "concerned myopically with private things and unmindful of common things." Idiots are like "rudderless ships" that are not grounded in either the local or the global community. Unable to see beyond their parochial interests, they're likely to do damage to themselves and to the communities in which they live. In his consideration of how idiots come about their idiocy, Parker asks whether our public "schools marshal their human and material resources to produce idiots or citizens? Does the school curriculum, both by commission and omission, cultivate private vices or public virtues?"

Parker proposes several important remedies: "First, increase the variety and frequency of interaction among students who are culturally, linguistically, and racially different from one another. Second, orchestrate these contacts so that competent public talk—deliberation about common problems—is fostered. In schools, this is talk about two kinds of problems: social and academic. Social problems arise inevitably from the friction of interaction itself (Dewey’s “problems of living together”), and academic problems are at the core of each subject area. Third, clarify the distinction between deliberation and blather and between open (inclusive) and closed (exclusive) deliberation. In other words, expect, teach, and model competent, inclusive deliberation."

It's also important for students to take some responsibility (and interest) in their own education early. People with these attitudes and capabilities can undertake their own ongoing education (even in the absence of schools and teachers) and work with others to get them involved. One of the best ways to do this and to help install the sense that the student is part of the process is self-assessment of learning at all levels.

If the point of evaluating students' work were only to rank them, or to give faculty a lever for encouraging their efforts, or even to describe the strengths and weaknesses of what they had produced, then it would seem clear that teachers should do it by themselves. The deepest reasons, however, for asking students to formally assess their own work pertain to the students' development over the long run. For one thing, the student may have learned some things which are relevant to learning which the teachers don't know about. If students have learned how to write a paper without agonizing over the first paragraph for hours, or pay a new kind of attention to the clouds when they go for a walk, or think about the late Roman Republic when they read the papers, these changes may say more about their education in literature or physics or history than their essays or exams do, yet be invisible to the teachers.

The practice of self-assessment is a central way for students to acquire the reflective habits of mind which are essential to their ongoing capacities to do good work, and to progressively improve their work over time. Growth in intelligence, or thinking, is precisely growth in the capacity for ongoing reflective self-assessment. This point is the center of Dewey's analysis of the difference between mere activity and educational experience in Democracy and Education (1916): "Thinking …is the intentional endeavor to discover specific connections between something which we do and the consequences which result, so that the two become continuous."

But formal education is considered complete at a certain age. Does this mean that people who have missed this one chance or who are otherwise interested in additional education are simply out of luck? Popular education, developed in the 1960s and ’70s by the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire helps to answer that question positively. Popular education is a non-traditional method of education that strives for the empowerment of adults through democratically structured cooperative study and action. It's carried out within a political vision that sees women and men at the community and grassroots level as the primary agents for social change. It aims to enable ordinary people to define their own struggles and critically examine and learn from the lessons of past struggles and from concrete everyday situations in the present. It is a deeply democratic process, equipping communities to name and create their vision of the future for which they struggle.

The popular education process begins by critically reflecting on, sharing, and articulating with a group or community what is known from lived experience. It continues with analysis and critical reflection upon reality aimed at enabling people to discover solutions to their own problems and set in motion concrete actions for the transformation of that reality. In Freire'’s model, the teacher becomes a facilitator, the traditional class becomes a cultural circle, the emphasis shifts from lecture to problem-posing strategies, and the content, previously removed from the learners’ experience, becomes relevant to the group.

Popular education has always had an intimate connection to organizing for social change. In the early 1960s, Freire, began his work in this area by using the principles of dialogue and critical consciousness-raising—fundamental to popular education—to teach literacy to peasants struggling for land reform in Brazil. Freire argued that action was the source of knowledge, not the reverse, and that education, to be transformative, involved a process of dialogue based on action and reflection on action.

Although starting a new — or supporting an existing — Experimental School might be the best use of this pattern, the concepts of an Experimental School can be useful to anybody who is establishing new programs in a traditional school or involved in virtually any way in the education of themselves or anybody they know. The key concepts are respect for learning, reflection, and a faith in the importance of reasoning and, especially, reasoning together.

Solution: 

Integrate the ideas from this pattern into educational settings that exist or can exist. We can think about how we think and we can learn about how we learn.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Schools with unchanging assumptions can't meet society's changing needs. This is unfortunate now when the need for public problem-solving is most acute. An Experimental School attempts to accomplish positive aims while adopting experimentation as a guiding orientation. The key concepts are respect for learning, reflection, and faith in the importance of reasoning and, especially, reasoning together.

Pattern status: 
Released
Pattern annotations: 

Value Sensitive Design

Pattern ID: 
474
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
87
Batya Friedman
University of Washington
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Human values and ethical considerations no longer stand apart from the design and development of information and communication systems. This shift reflects, at least in part, the increasing impact and visibility that information and communication technologies have had on human lives. Computer viruses have destroyed data on millions of machines. Large linked medical databases can, and often do, infringe on individuals' privacy. The fair outcome of the national elections may hinge in part on the design and management of computerized election ballots. On and on, the media portray such problems. In turn, software engineers, designers and developers must now engage not only the technical aspects of their designs but the value and ethical dimensions as well. Yet how should they do so? What theories, methods, tools, and techniques might they bring to this challenge?

Context: 

Values are at play in all phases of envisioning, designing, developing, implementing, deploying, appropriating, and on-going re-appropriation and re-invention of computer and information technology. In all these activities there exists the need for explicit consideration of values, value tensions, and value trade-offs. The Value Sensitive Design pattern can be used throughout all of these phases. Moreover, it is expected that Value Sensitive Design will be used in conjunction with other successful methodologies (such as Participatory Design, systematic debugging and testing practices, rapid prototyping) with a variety of practitioners including software engineers, usability engineers, interaction designers, information solution professionals, and concerned direct and indirect stakeholders.

Discussion: 

“That technology itself determines what is to be done by a process of extrapolation and that individuals are powerless to intervene in that determination is precisely the kind of self-fulfilling dream from which we must awaken…I don't say that systems such as I have mentioned [gigantic computer systems, computer networks, and speech recognition systems] are necessarily evil – only that they may be and, what is most important, that their inevitability cannot be accepted by individuals claiming autonomy, freedom, and dignity. The individual computer scientist can and must decide. The determination of what the impact of computers on society is to be is, at least in part, in his hands…It is possible, given courage and insight, for man to deny technology the prerogative to formulate man's questions. It is possible to ask human questions and to find humane answers.” (Joseph Weizenbaum, 1972, p. 614.)

Heeding to the call of computer scientists like Joseph Weizenbaum and cyberneticist Norbert Wiener before him, the emerging field of Value Sensitive Design seeks to design technology that accounts for human values in a principled and comprehensive manner throughout the design process (Friedman, 1997; Friedman and Kahn, 2003; Friedman, Kahn, and Borning, 2006). Value Sensitive Design is primarily concerned with values that center on human well-being, human dignity, justice, welfare, and human rights. This approach is principled in that it maintains that such values have moral standing independent of whether a particular person or group upholds such values (e.g., the belief in and practice of slavery by a certain group does not a priori mean that slavery is a morally acceptable practice). At the same time, Value Sensitive Design maintains that how such values play out in a particular culture at a particular point in time can vary, sometimes considerably.

Value Sensitive Design articulates an interactional position for how values become implicated in technological designs. An interactional position holds that while the features or properties that people design into technologies more readily support certain values and hinder others, the technology's actual use depends on the goals of the people interacting with it. A screwdriver, after all, is well-suited for turning screws, and yet amenable as a poker, pry bar, nail set, cutting device, and tool to dig up weeds. Moreover, through human interaction, technology itself changes over time. On occasion, such changes can mean the societal rejection of a technology, or that its acceptance is delayed. But more often it entails an iterative process whereby technologies are invented and then redesigned based on user interactions, which then are reintroduced to users, further interactions occur, and further redesigns implemented.

To date, Value Sensitive Design has been used in a wide range of research and design contexts including: an investigation of bias in computer systems (Friedman and Nissenbaum, in Friedman, 1997), universal access within a communications company (Thomas, in Friedman, 1997), Internet privacy (Ackerman and Cranor, 1999), informed consent for online interactions (Friedman, Howe, & Felten, 2002), ubiquitous sensing of the environment and individual rights (Abowd & Jacobs, 2001), computer simulation to support of democratization of the urban planning process (Borning, Friedman, Davis, & Lin, 2005), social and moral aspects of human-robotic interaction (Kahn, Freier, Friedman, Severson, and Feldman, 2004), privacy in public (Friedman, Kahn, Hagman, Severson, & Gill, 2006), value analyses in reflective design (Senger, Boehner, David, & Kaye, 2005), and the place of designer values in the design process (Flanagan, Howe, & Nissenbaum, 2005).

Methodologically, at the core of Value Sensitive Design lies an iterative process that integrates conceptual, empirical, and technical investigations. Conceptual investigations involve philosophically informed analyses of the central constructs and issues under investigation. Questions include: How are values supported or diminished by particular technological designs? Who is affected? How should we engage in trade-offs among competing values in the design, implementation, and use of information systems? Empirical investigations involve both social-scientific research on the understandings, contexts, and experiences of the people affected by the technological designs as well as the development of relevant laws, policies, and regulations. Technical investigations involve analyzing current technical mechanisms and designs to assess how well they support particular values, and, conversely, identifying values, and then identifying and/or developing technical mechanisms and designs that can support those values.

How then to practice Value Sensitive Design? Some suggestions follow (see also Friedman, Kahn, & Borning, 2006):

  • •Start With a Value, Technology, or Context of Use. Any of these three core aspects – a value, technology, or context of use – easily motivates Value Sensitive Design. Begin with the aspect that is most central to your work and interests.
  • Identify Direct and Indirect Stakeholders. Systematically identify direct and indirect stakeholders. Direct stakeholders are those individuals who interact directly with the technology or with the technology’s output; indirect stakeholders are those individuals who are also impacted by the system, though they never interact directly with it.
  • Identify Harms and Benefits for Each Stakeholder Group. Systematically identify how each category of direct and indirect stakeholder would be positively or negatively affected by the technology under consideration.
  • Map Harms and Benefits onto Corresponding Values. At times the mapping between harms and benefits and corresponding values will be one of identity; at other times the mapping will be multifaceted (that is, a single harm might implicate multiple values, such as both security and autonomy).
  • Conduct a Conceptual Investigation of Key Values. Develop careful working definitions for each of the key values. Drawing on the philosophical literature can be helpful here.
  • Identify Potential Value Conflicts. For the purposes of design, value conflicts should usually not be conceived of as “either/or” situations, but as constraints on the design space. Typical value conflicts include accountability vs. privacy, trust vs. security, environmental sustainability vs. economic development, privacy vs. security, and hierarchical control vs. democratization.
  • Technical Investigation Heuristic – Value Conflicts. Technical mechanisms will often adjudicate multiple if not conflicting values, often in the form of design trade-offs. It may be helpful to make explicit how a design trade-off maps onto a value conflict and differentially affects different groups of stakeholders.
  • Technical Investigation Heuristic – Unanticipated Consequences and Value Conflicts. In order to be positioned to respond agiley to unanticipated consequences and value conflicts, when possible, design flexibility into the underlying technical architecture so support post-deployment modifications.

Note: Much of the material in this pattern was adapted from Friedman and Kahn (2003) and Friedman, Kahn, and Borning (2006).

Solution: 

Human values and ethical considerations are fundamentally part of design practice. Value Sensitive Design offers one viable principled approach to systematically considering human values throughout the design and deployment of information and other technologies. Through its theory and methods, Value Sensitive Design asks that we extend the traditional criteria (e.g., reliability, correctness) by which we judge the quality of systems to include those of human values.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Human values should be actively considered in the design and development of information and communication systems. Increasingly, it is through these systems that people engage in dialog, educate their children, gain access to resources and systems of justice, conduct business, and participate in government. Value Sensitive Design provides theory and methods to account for human values in a principled and systematic manner throughout the design process.

Pattern status: 
Released

Design for Unintended Use

Pattern ID: 
477
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
84
Erik Stolterman
Indiana University
Version: 
2
Problem: 

A designable and open technology like the Internet is never finished or final. This type of open technology invites ongoing creative use, which in turn drives the evolution and development of the technology. While creative use is associated with active and engaged users, it can present severe challenges in the design of public systems. From the perspective of the designer, the creative user is unpredictable and random and uses the system in unintended ways that can be detrimental to the overall functionality and robustness of the system.

Unfortunately this often leads designers to create closed systems with little or no room for user action outside the intended scope. This approach, however, can result in systems that are unattractive to a creative and imaginative community that desires ownership and opportunity to developing a system that is effective from their perspective.

Context: 

Unintended use exists wherever open and designable technology is used. People tend to use systems in creative ways insofar as the design of the technology allows it. The Internet and related technologies have historically benefited from a concept and infrastructure supporting unintended use. We continue to be surprised on a daily basis by new and inventive applications of the Internet.

Although the internet has changed over time, this essential foundation remains. This technology is well-suited for large, open communities that grant people (as users) ample freedom in the ways they can relate to and apply it. This technological foundation can be exploited for a creative user-driven design.

Discussion: 

A successful tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author. -- S. C. Johnson

Many observations, both scientific and anecdotal, describe how people use technology in unintended ways. Studies show this happens within organizational settings as well as on the open Web. However, the predominant concept is that the design of a technology should make its use obvious, that it should be user-friendly. Studies have shown that in many cases such systems leave users feeling they are just users (or even customers) of a community system and not participants (Ciborra, 1992; Carroll & Rosson, 1987).

Instead of viewing unintended use as a problem, it is possible to define it as an opportunity; instead of designing to protect" the system for creative use, design the system to support and withstand creative use. A system that can handle unintended use will be well equipped to evolve over time and to be updated, and thereby continue to be relevant to users in the community.

To be able to design for unintended use, we must study how people as users deal with and approach technology in everyday life, rather than focusing on what they should do when using it in the "correct" way. Creative unintended use is and will always be context- and situation-specific, and it will probably not be possible to produce abstractions that could subsequently be used to produce generalized knowledge or concise design principles.

The important thing, however, is to find out how people understand, imagine and approach technology. Since Internet technology is designable, community support systems can never be moved from one community to another without adaptation. This means a tool or a specific use that is simply copied will not work the same way under two different circumstances. The tool must be redesigned. The most important knowledge question is, therefore, what kind of knowledge and understanding of the technology is needed to create a solid foundation for these kinds of context-specific redesigns.

A community is always changing. People develop new needs and wants. The technology for supporting such a community must build on the idea of "unintended use." Unintended use is not a threat to the supporting system; instead unintended use should be understood as a creative driving force. Creative unintended use is a way for users to "take control" of the technology, to make it relevant to them. Unintended use is fact of life in a community support system - not a problem.

Solution: 

The solution is to intentionally design for creative unintended use. Design principles for creative unintended use can be formulated and used to inform new designs (Stolterman, 2001). Some examples of such principles are: (1) the system must be sufficiently robust to withstand creative use “attacks” from users, (2) the system must also be "forgiving," which means it has some ability to accept creative use changes without demanding complete safety, (3) a system whose purpose is to elicit creative and radical use, must also present a sufficiently rich, inspiring, and complex environment, and (4) also provide the user with tools for exploring and changing the system itself, (5) the system must also be designed as an open system, i.e., it should be possible for users to expand the scope and breadth of the system without demanding too much structure and administration. These high-level design principles must be further developed and expanded. There is a need for experimental approaches to design for unintended use that are relevant to the situation at hand.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Designable, open technology invites ongoing creative use, which in turn drives further evolution and development. The solution is to intentionally Design for Unintended Use. Users should be able to expand the scope and breadth of the system without demanding too much structure and administration. The high-level design principles must be developed and expanded, through a variety of experimental and other approaches.

Pattern status: 
Released

Wholesome Design for Wicked Problems

Pattern ID: 
809
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
82
Rob Knapp
Evergreen State College
Version: 
2
Problem: 

One often regards difficulties or issues as problems to be solved, but one must beware the implication that the first step is to define the problem, and the next is to find one or more solutions to it. The significant issues and difficulties in the world do not sit still for this orderly strategy: every attempt to define these problems changes them, and so does each step in any attempted solution. Moreover, there are no sound rules to tell when a solution to such a problem is complete, nor any ways to test it off-line.

Context: 

This pattern addresses the mindset one brings to a problem; it may be especially useful for people weighed down by the complexities of the problem they confront, and by the accumulation of previous failed solutions that complex problems tend to accumulate about themselves.

Discussion: 

The system theorist Horst Rittel coined the term "wicked problem" in the early 1970's as a corrective to the rationalist approach to planning and design of large-scale systems. The late 1960's and early 1970's were a heyday for rationalist planning, which can be summarized as the process of fully and explicitly laying out goals, assumptions, and constraints of a problem situation, generating and evaluating alternative solutions, and expecting that the preferred solution will emerge clearly, backed by good reasons. This approach grew, among other things, from the rise of digital computation, the activist Federal mood of the 1960's, and the prospect of bypassing bitter political struggles over such things as urban extensions of the Interstate highway system. Among its applications were low-cost public housing projects, flood control initiatives, moon missions, and Vietnam war strategy. The hope was that objective, data-driven analytical approaches would provide a broadly applicable toolkit for solving large-scale social and environmental problems.

Rittel saw that this hope was doomed, because the problem situations in view could not be defined in agreed, unchanging ways. These problems are intrinsically ill-defined, and attempts to define them are already actions which reshape the problem and commit the analyst to a course of problem-solving which omits legitimate alternatives —and there is no way of escaping this. An extreme example is the Israel-Palestine question: a storm of protest and counter-protest greets every attempt to say what "the question" is, much less propose answers. But much milder situations exhibit wickedness. Consider low-cost housing, middle-school math curriculum, or the length of the salmon-fishing season. Indeed, every building project and most social action, down to the smallest scale, has elements of wickedness. In each case, the interests in play, the intangibility of key values, and the elusiveness of key information mean that a commonly agreed base for problem solving is not objectively available.

There are, however, ways forward. The first is to shift the goal of action on significant problems from "solution" to "intervention." Instead of seeking just the right moves to eliminate a problem once and for all, one should recognize that any actions occur in an ongoing process, in which further actions will be needed later on. This is not to accept injustice or suffering quietly. If there are ways to eliminate smallpox as a public health problem, and the vaccination campaigns of the 1970's proved there were, one should pursue them by all means. But one should realize that smallpox will remain a part of the global health situation in some way. (And so it has, most recently as a potential bioterror weapon.) The intervention mentality recognizes that situations tend to continue, even if their form changes radically.

There is a natural fit between the wicked-problem mentality and the DESIGN STANCE (see the pattern of that name). While design has often aimed at closed, once-and-for-all solutions, the multi-factor, iterative, imagination-based process of generating designs is very congenial to what is needed for intervening in wicked problems. Design naturally generates multiple possibilities before settling on one proposal; design naturally engages in a sort of dialogue with the problem situation, in which drawings or other representations of the design idea reveal consequences or relationships which call for changes in the design idea, and vice versa. The precise definition of the problem evolves alongside the ideas for interventions until they converge on action.

A second way to work with the wickedness of significant problems is to admit the significant actors to the design process. A typical wicked problem is shaped and reshaped by multiple actors whose influence cannot be closed out. The long maneuvering over the reconstruction of Ground Zero in New York City is a classic example. Both the rationalist tradition in architecture, engineering, public policy, and most other fields and what could be called the now-we-need-a-genius tradition in those same fields have relied on an expert (or sometimes a team of experts) generating a solution in isolation. But the multiple actors in wicked problems can not only obstruct such a solution, they can change the problem’s definition while the solution is being generated.

A third step is to design "loose-fit" actions. Instead of tailoring an intervention tightly to the understood conditions of a problem, for example choosing sealed windows and central air conditioning for an office building, one should allow for uses, costs, and regulations to change in unforeseen ways, for example drastic escalation in energy costs. Architecture is one area where one can now see that the rationalist, optimizing mood of the 1970's (and after) has saddled businesses and communities with rapidly obsolescing buildings of many kinds, but the need for loose-fit designs or plans occurs in any area with wicked problems.

A powerful example of successful handling of a wicked problem is passive solar design of buildings. The problem area emerged from the oil crises of the 1970’s, as activists’ strong desires to make use of solar energy as a renewable, free alternative to oil encountered technical difficulties such as low efficiency and daily and seasonal variability, economic challenges such as high first cost and low availability of experienced suppliers, and political/cultural resistances including vested interests, suspicion of unfamiliar technologies, and opposition to ideas perceived as counter-cultural. This mix of difficulties and disparate actors is typically wicked.

Slowly, over two decades, the problem and goals shifted (e.g. from replacing oil heat to reducing the need for it), experimentation revealed unforeseen directions of development (e.g. building orientation and control of overheating became more critical than total window area), knowledge from traditional practices as well as from engineering measurement began to accumulate, and designers found more and more ways to blend solar performance with standard building functions. A growing consensus on good practice included building code officials and contractors, as well as solar enthusiasts and academics. Discovery, development, and a degree of controversy continue, but the U.S. is now at a point where passive solar guidelines are widely available and used, at times in such routine guise as to be invisible.

Solution: 

Address significant problems with a design mentality that expects them to be “wicked”, recognizes the kinds of wickedness at work, and understands the design process, from initiation to proposals, as an intervention in a flow of events, not a fixed change in a static scene. Admit the significant actors to the design process. Pursue "loose-fit" interventions which have good potential to adapt to unforeseen changes in needs or impacts.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

According to Horst Rittel "wicked problems" are resistant to the rationalist approach to planning and design of large-scale systems. There are, however, ways forward. The first is to shift the goal of action on significant problems from "solution" to "intervention." Instead of seeking the answer that totally eliminates a problem, one should recognize that actions occur in an ongoing process, and further actions will always be needed.

Pattern status: 
Released
Information about introductory graphic: 
Rob Knapp

Academic Technology Investments

Pattern ID: 
409
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
81
Sarah Stein
North Carolina State University
Version: 
2
Problem: 

New technologies have been making rapid inroads in higher education, and, in many ways, are changing methods of teaching, learning and research. Yet, strict segregation of academic disciplines, industrial-age concepts of technological ownership and control, and entrenched silos across institutions place limits on the kinds of innovation and extension of learning and research that computer-mediated communication networks can help facilitate.

Context: 

Institutions of higher education afford significant benefits to students and researchers within their walls as well as the broader public. At the same time, economic downturns have resulted in diminishing revenue streams for legislative support of higher education, and for-profit as well as international educational institutions offer increasing competition. Academic institutions need to explore the greater opportunities enabled by information technologies for inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional pedagogical and administrative partnerships, in order to revitalize their economic circumstances and re-establish their social relevance.

Discussion: 

Institutions of higher education play a critical role in the maintenance and advancement of a nation and a culture. They are also often mired in organizational fiefdoms and disciplinary rivalries arising from competition over scarce resources. In turn, opportunities for collaboration are neglected that can advance the education of students and the production of knowledge.

Information communication technologies (ICTs) enable faculty and students to interact with others in academies across the nation and around the world. Courses engaging other institutions are being taught through video conferencing and computer-based classrooms; groups activities for students using databases and computer-generated learning objects are revolutionizing large lecture courses in physics and other sciences; researchers are using high performance computing to conduct experiments with international colleagues, at the same time that the extra computing power is leveraged to make available to students at their desktops expensive software through virtual computing labs.

Yet, the rapid and continual development of ICTs leave administrative budgets and personnel at universities struggling to adapt to the constant rate of change. In an age of vastly distributed information networks that can speed data and news around the globe, transparency and accountability are still lacking at traditional universities and other academic institutions. Despite the proliferation of communication devices and channels, faculty, staff, and students too often feel that their needs and views go unheard. Though the complexity of technological advances make it impossible for any one person or group to know all that is needed to make the best implementation plans, for example, ICT investment decisions continue to be made without soliciting other viewpoints.

At the same time, academic communication systems such as email and electronic calendaring that have become inextricably interwoven with the day-to-day operations of universities are still being run by multiple units and departments who have developed a sense of distrust and distance from central operations. Educational institutions within the same region and state continue to run routine technology networks individually instead of investigating the significant cost-sharing possible through inter-institutional cooperation, and beliefs in the necessity of institutional branding outweigh the advantages to be found in inter-collegiate curricula and teaching.

Part of what hinders the realization of more of the collaborative advantages communication networks can offer is an administrative hierarchy that tends to favor corporate-style decision-making in the hopes of producing corporate-style efficiencies, especially in light of the huge costs and rapid change of educational technologies. Yet, Institutions of higher education are built on principles of peer-review of evidence, and communal sharing of knowledge. When the diverse constituencies of the academy—students, faculty, administrators, technical staff—are not consulted in top-down decisions, and have no forums in which to engage with each other, those foundational principles are discarded and progressive initiatives can be resisted and even sabotaged.

A Chronicle of Higher Education article titled "The Role of Colleges in an Era of Mistrust” lays out ten communication principles by which colleges can provide leadership and maintain good faith in the public eye. Reporting on a University of California controversy over the cancellation of an invited speaker by the university’s president without consulting faculty or students, the authors press for a process of communication that includes diverse perspectives: “When it is possible to make deliberations open and transparent, colleges must do so. When open-door meetings are not prudent or practical, colleges must be careful to ensure that all the affected parties have a place at the table. Just as important, they must emerge with a clear account not only of what was decided but of how that decision was reached.”

Multiplying communication channels do not necessarily yield greater communication. An inclusive environment that fosters transparency and accountability within all academic sectors can go a long way to eliciting the sense of mission and dedication that characterizes the motives of people in choosing to be part of an educational community. Collaborative learning opportunities, inter-institutional partnerships, and inter-disciplinary scholarship are all developments that are supported by ICTs; creating a climate of openness and engagement across the university enterprise will further their realization.

Solution: 

ICTs can facilitate the development of new models of teaching, learning and research that take advantage of inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations in higher education and contribute to the quality of an information society. Such developments can be hindered by the persistence of traditional top-down decision-making that excludes the voices of the wider academic community, and in turn perpetuates a climate of disciplinary rivalry and entrenched silos. The constructive realization of the network capacities of new communication technologies in higher education need to be guided by insights and perspectives from a diverse collective.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Segregation of disciplines and institutions hinder innovation, learning, and research in higher education. Institutions need to explore opportunities enabled by information and communication technologies for new partnerships. These incorporate interaction with others around the world via conferencing, learning objects, and high performance computing. Fostering transparency and accountability can encourage a dedicated sense of mission.

Pattern status: 
Released

Users' IT Quality Network

Pattern ID: 
591
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
80
Aake Walldius
CID/NADA/KTH
Yngve Sundblad
CID/NADA/KTH
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Competitive software suppliers need demanding customers who can articulate sophisticated user requirements for the software they use in their daily work. However, it takes people from different professions to articulate requirements that serve both the employees, the (co)owners, and the customers of tomorrow. If the contact between the end-users and the people who purchase their software is too loose, then the purchasing personnel only get their information from the dominant software suppliers of today.

Context: 

The competition between suppliers of communication services is different from that between suppliers of physical goods, since what the former deliver is not just a platform for communication, but the access to service providers and to other users who have already invested in that platform. Other economic forces tend to further decrease competition in the software market. This makes it even more important to support the articulation of end-user quality demands.

Discussion: 

Examples
TCO Development, www.tcodevelopment.com
Krav Organic Labeling, www.krav.se
Users' Award, www.usersaward.com

An example of an emerging Users' IT quality network is the UsersAward network which was initiated in 1997 by a group of trade union activists and researchers who wanted to address the problem of expensive and centralistic workplace IT systems. Many such planning and control systems had become a bureaucratic hindrance for both employees and employers in Swedish firms. In 2002, the project, which by then engaged a consortium of researchers from four universities, had developed a quality certification method and demonstrated its viability by certifying two software packages in Sweden.

The Users' Award network is open for employees who want to take part in efforts to raise the quality of software for use in the workplace. The network arranges User Conferences where Exemplary software is showcased and discussed. It initiates periodic User surveys to gain hard facts about user preferences and user satisfaction with the major software services in the marketplace. A yearly Users' IT Prize contest has been held since the year 2000. Since 2002 the User Certified 2002 certificat has been issued to software suppliers who have passed the certification process developed by the research consortium which is an important part of the network. See image below.

Forces
The former software design manager at Apple, HP, and UNext sums up his design philosophy in the epigraph of his book Things that make us Smart [2]: "People Propose, Science Studies, Technology Conforms." This is a sharp criticism of what Norman claims to be the dominant division of roles today, that industry proposes, science studies, and consumers conform. The critique is elaborated in the book The Invisible Computer where Norman argues that 1) the typical computer user the last ten years has been a person with substantial technical expertise, 2) that, due to the fast dissemination of IT services, the typical user in the coming years will be a person without technical expertise, 3) that this will force a fundamental reorientation upon the hardware and software industries, bringing policies of user orientation to the fore.

Donald Normans analysis has been one of the inspirations for the UsersAward initiative. In the quote above, Norman identifies three social institutions as key actors in the overall process of innovation. We want to point out a fourth crucial actor, "the media", or three divisions of it to be more exact. Thus, the following social forces interact in complex ways to support the articulation of problems and solutions, an ongoing articulation process that could be further institutionalised in User-driven software labelling, (as it already has been for computer hardware):

- User groups complain about recurrent software problems and point out alternatives,
- popular media inform the general public about complaints and alternative solutions,
- research groups study the complaints and invent solutions,
- trade press scrutinise the research results,
- national media comment the research results,
- user oriented software suppliers implement proposed solutions,
- regulators and standards organisations confirm principles behind the solutions.

Dependencies
From APL (1):
Network of learning, University as marketplace.

From this proposed language:
IT quality survey (101), Users IT quality centre (102),
IT research consortium (103), Users' IT prize contest (382),
IT quality conference (383),
Users' IT quality certification (384)

Solution: 

Support initiatives in workshops, offices, schools and universities to articulate user requirements for the software you work with. Take part by formulating concrete demands that enhance the quality of the software you use in your group. Make it fit the decentralized teamwork organisations of tomorrow. If a Users' IT quality centre already exist in your region, support it by participating in its many activities. If it does not exist, take part in forming one.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Competitive software suppliers need demanding customers who can articulate sophisticated user requirements for the software they use in their daily work. Economic forces make it very important to support the articulation of end-user quality demands through initiatives in workshops, offices, schools and universities. If a Users' Information Technology Quality Network already exists in your region, support it by participating. If it does not exist, take part in forming one.

Pattern status: 
Released

Multi-Party Negotiation for Conflict Resolution

Pattern ID: 
759
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
79
Helena Meyer-Knapp
The Evergreen State College
Stewart Dutfield
Graduate and Continuing Education, Marist College
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Any challenge to the status quo can lead to conflict, which raises a key problem: how to shift the conflict creatively to achieve real change. Even within like-minded social change communities, participants can find themselves in conflict with each other. To negotiate over disagreements on the basis that only one of the affected parties can gain at the expense of all the others is to perpetuate the status quo, and often leads to everyone involved feeling that they have lost more than they have gained.

Context: 

Organizations and communities dedicated to social change will encounter intense disagreements since they are working among people with strongly held beliefs and differing agendas. Many strategic action choices set up conflicts that do more to perpetuate the status quo than to change it: protests, negative media campaigns, lawsuits and regulation battles are time-honored tactics, but their win/lose dynamic tends to polarize opinions around longstanding hostilities. Problems can also arise when attempting to resolve conflicts by relying on a third party to mediate the issues, particularly if the dispute affects multiple divergent and distinct parties. Increasingly, social change actions are developed in settings at which participant decision-makers represent people from around the world. The UN Decade of the Women

Discussion: 

Starting in 1981 with the publication of the Ury and Fisher book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In,” Americans, in particular, learned to imagine solutions to conflicts in which constructive win/win solutions replaced the win/lose model. Ury and Fisher centered on negotiation, and negotiation remains a critical conflict strategy. Their Program on Negotiation at Harvard University Law School, operates as a training and research center with a particular focus on large scale and international conflicts, using a fourfold process: (a) separate the people from the problem; (b) focus on interests, not positions; (c) invent options for mutual gain; and (d) insist on using objective criteria. Central to this process is the ability to recognize whether a proposed agreement is in one’s interest; the best alternative to no agreement (BATNA) is a clear understanding of what one will do if no agreement is reached.

Good communication skills and versatile approaches to problem definition are critical to negotiation and to conflict resolution in general. There is no single posture or style which connects across all cultures and power differences, but many people have found Marshall Rosenberg’s training useful for learning to listen effectively and learning to ask clearly. Michelle Le Baron’s book offers detailed descriptions of good practice for respecting specific cultural factors that will impact any negotiation. Meyer-Knapp’s analysis of attempts to end wars highlights some additional factors: secrecy can facilitate progress in difficult talks, key leaders must be involved and success often depends on all parties publicly agreeing to end retributive and punitive actions.

Some conflicts become so embedded in communities that it comes to seem impossible even to discuss them. Two programs illustrate options for opening up the dialogue. The Public Conversations Project has set up forums for private and extended dialogue on abortion in the United States. In the cities where they have worked there is an increasing willingness to reach across the divisions. The Health Bridge Project in the former Yugoslavia achieved a similar effect by setting up clinics and health care recovery projects staffed by professionals from among the hostile Serb, Croat and Bosnian Moslem communities. One particular peacetime derivative of military “gaming” uses an intensive negotiation/planning protocol in which the stakeholders are explicitly required to negotiate from the perspective of someone other than themselves.

Intra-organizational disputes can be softened if workers and board-members routinely engage in mediation and facilitation training. Then, should a disagreement arise, they can use the skills on their own behalf. However managers must remember that in US law and culture, once an organizational dispute has arisen, decisions that withstand leglistic challenges are based in well grounded due process. The essentials of due process are timely handling of complaints, neutrality of decision-makers in relation to the dispute, the right of appeal, and an opportunity for all sides to have their point of view heard.

This pattern links to Conversational Support Across Boundaries, Citizen Diplomacy, Peaceful Public Demonstrations, Collective Decision-Making, Appreciative Collaboration

Solution: 

Conflict can supply a positive impetus to improve the situation, often through negotiations among a variety of opposing parties. So, approach change prepared to acknowledge and actively deal with conflict. To generate lasting change, use an imaginative array of conflict strategies and skills including negotiation, multi-party process, and cross cultural dialogue. To enable constructive outcomes, negotiate with flexible and compassionate attitudes to opposing parties. Organizations should develop and regularly review their capacity for negotiation and dialogue, both internally and externally. Schools at all levels should be teaching skills in negotiation, conflict resolution, and communication. In complex situations, each participant must be willing to assume the responsibility of negotiating for themselves.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Is it possible to shift conflict creatively to achieve real change? Recently people have begun to imagine solutions to conflicts in which constructive win/win solutions replace the win/lose model. To generate lasting change, use an imaginative array of strategies and skills including negotiation, multi-party processes, and cross cultural dialogue.

Pattern status: 
Released

Mobile ICT Learning Facilities

Pattern ID: 
485
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
77
Grant Hearn
University of the Western Cape
Version: 
2
Problem: 

In many countries, the lack of access to technology and Information and Communication Technology in particular, is an acute problem of both resources and location. Solutions must focus on making scarce resources cover as much ground as possible.

Context: 

Placing fixed computer facilities in communities with government or donor funding limits the benefits to the particular communities in question.

Discussion: 

One solution that has long been available in the sphere of basic literacy is the mobile library, whereby suitable motor vehicles carry libraries on wheels to those unable to otherwise access them. This makes good use of financial resources and allows a scarce and important asset to be brought to where it is most needed and reused continually.

The provision of similar traveling computer laboratories, the drivers of which are trained computer literacy educators, could play a similar role in bringing the ICT “mountain” to the disempowered. Self-contained units with their own power generation ability will grant ICT access to many people in remote locations or simply living in communities which are too poor to support such access in other ways. Encouraging community participation in the program will help to ensure that those in the community who could most benefit by the program will be helped first. The goals of such a program would be to:

  • Bring scarce and economically empowering assets to communities desperately in need of them or otherwise simply lacking in access to these assets by virtue of their remote location
  • Contribute to reducing the geographic and economic isolation of many communities
  • Begin to bring the wider world to communities who wish to gain knowledge of it and interact with it.
  • Contribute to the knowledge and skills of those joining the exodus from rural to urban areas in an attempt to provide survival strategies that move away from begging, menial labor and crime

In South Africa a similar initiative which focuses on bringing science and technology to disadvantaged communities is already in place. A bus called the Discovery Mobile travels to communities and gives young people the opportunity to interact with a wide range of exhibits inside the bus.

Solution: 

By working together with government, donors and communities, mobile computer laboratory facilities can be established to begin to answer the needs of many communities for exposure to and training in the use of information and communication technologies.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

In many countries, the lack of access to Information and Communication Technology is an acute problem. Just as the mobile library brings books to those who lack access, traveling computer laboratories with computer literacy educators as drivers can play similar roles. In South Africa, the Discovery Mobile bus travels to communities and gives people the opportunity to interact with science and technology exhibits.

Pattern status: 
Released
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