Cooperative Technologies in
Democratic Processes
- Beyond e-Voting

COOP 2014 - Whole day Workshop -
27th May 2014, Nice, France


Information technologies are penetrating society at large to a degree where governments like the Danish have decided to provide service and access only through electronic media. This can be an opportunity for the development of new forms of participation in democratic processes. The aim of this workshop is to discuss how cooperative technologies can support democratic processes, in particular in local settings. The aim is to better understand technology support for active engagement in knowledge sharing, debate and deliberation.

Description of the theme of the workshop

Information technologies, including the Internet, have hit high penetration in most western countries, opening for wide application of cooperative technologies in civic life, such as local democracy, public debate etc. Over the last many years e-voting systems have been thought of as a possible way to get more people to engage in democracy: Such systems do, however, not support new forms of engagement in the development of alternatives. They do not foster active citizenship but contrarily they maintain a principle of a political elite developing the politics and the grey masses voting for a few fixed options.

We see an increasing need, especially in civil society organizations, but also in new political movements and parties, for collaborative deliberation, to help increase citizens possibilities of playing a role in the public sphere, in policy making. Similarly, we see a need for enabling people to engage in and influence volunteer work, non-government organizations etc. in new ways.

Emerging software (e.g., LiquidFeedback and its forks) have been developed for this purpose, and already experimented in some real-life cases.

We invite approaches to cooperative technologies that can support new forms of civic engagement. This could be through public debate in a wide sense, through making information available for relevant people, through ideation and development of alternatives or through online deliberation and decision-making. Focus will be on support for active engagement by people.

We encourage submission and participation focusing on a broad range of aspects of the outlined question of technology support for democratic process: on specific deliberative or cooperative systems; on actual cases where experiments, from workshops with mockups to fully fledged experiments, have been carried out; on discussions of domains, prospects and challenges; as well as more theoretical contributions.

Possible questions to address include:

  • How do technical features of deliberative software influence and shape the democratic processes?
  • When such features enforce cooperation, when they trigger competitive behaviors?
  • What kind of communities are existing and emerging software solutions working for? E.g. closed homogeneous groups, open publics, citizens.
  • To what extend is participation in civic life limited as a product of insufficient infrastructures?
  • What are the limits for technology mediated civic processes?

The goal of the workshop is to better understand technology support for forms of democracy such as direct and deliberative varieties by discussing the concrete cases and technologies and by exploring conceptual and technical frameworks and approaches. We will aim for exemplars rather than a complete map of this emerging terrain. We further hope that the workshop can help an ongoing attempt to form a consortium that successfully can attract funding for further development of technologies and concepts and exploration in concrete contexts.

Organization of the workshop

The goal is to build increased awareness of the emerging topic of cooperative technologies for deliberation and democracy.

Prior to the workshop accepted submissions will be distributed among the participants to ensure maximum preparation. Accepted submissions will be made available through the workshop webpage. If a sufficient number of good position papers are accepted printed proceedings will be produced.

The day will be organized to ensure interaction and development of new ideas rather than by a forum for presentations. Early morning will focus on setting the territory and having a number of short presentations to kick of work. Most of the day will be organized around thematic discussions, in plenary or break out format. We will aim to end the day with some sort of synthesis and conclusion.

Program for the day can be found here

After the workshop

Depending on participation, the workshop will be sustained in some format. The collection of accepted position papers will be published in the Aarhus University, Computer Science Report Series. Additionally, we will consider the possibilities for a special issue of a journal or a joint paper, based on the submissions.

How to participate

If you want to participate please submit either a workshop paper or shorter position statements.

  • Workshop Papers are up to 8 pages long, and will present a (possibly tentative) result, a case, a concept, a technology, or some thing else in relation to the workshop theme. Workshop papers will provide a clear message talking to the theme of the workshop.
  • Position statements are up to 2 pages long and present the authors views, previous work, and interests in relation to the workshop.

Please use the conference publication format by following the instructions for book chapter formatting on this link:

Please submit your contribution, in PDF format, by email to no later than April 2, 2014.

Submissions will be reviewed by the organizers.

Accepted contributions will be published in the Workshop Proceedings.

About the organizers

Olav W Bertelsen () is an associate professor in human-computer interaction and associated with the Center for Participatory IT (PIT) at Aarhus University, Denmark. He has published on voluntary organizations, and has been involved in the social housing movement in Denmark for two decades.

Susanne Bødker () is professor of human-computer interaction at the Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University. She has done research in participatory design, CSCW and HCI since the early 1980s. Current research includes public services and citizen participation. She is co-managing the Aarhus University inter-disciplinary Center for Participatory IT.

Fiorella de Cindio () is an Associate professor in computer science at the University of Milano, Italy. She has been working with deliberative systems and conducted large interventions for several decades.

Volkmar Pipek () holds a professorship at the Institute for Information Systems at the University of Siegen, Germany. Since 2006 his research is focused on the domain of emergency management.

Last update: 15. June, 2014