PARTICIPATORY DESIGN OF A CROSS-MEDIA COMMUNITY FOR SOCIETAL ACTION: LESSONS FROM AVATOPIA

YLVA GISLÉN, JONAS LÖWGREN, ULF MYRESTAM

Abstract


A cross-media platform was designed for a community of young teenagers oriented towards societal change, a task which motivated a deeply sociotechnical participatory design process. The final outcome involved an interactive web forum featuring creative and communicative collaborative tools in a 3D avatar environment, combined with a weekly show in national public-service television. An assessment of our work indicates that a participatory design process, where participants transition into the role of mentors and norm carriers upon deployment, can be a feasible way to support subcultural community building towards »difficult« topics, even though it entails considerable resource demands. This result is potentially relevant to other practitioners of participatory design outside the traditional settings of workplaces and well-defined user groups. Moreover, we argue that an integrated spiral of production and consumption across the two media channels involved is a viable design concept to support community building. That claim, unlike our methodological finding, is rather limited in scope to interaction design, and specifically to the genre of cross-media products and services.


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