Democratic participation in civil society is not merely an issue of electronic
voting, but also of campaigning, organising and participation in policy formation
through a wide variety of groups and collaborations. These groups may be formally
constituted such as trade-unions, political parties, voluntary groups or campaigning
'non-governmental organisations' (NGOs), or may take the form of informal collections
of individuals and organisations conducting conversations and sharing electronic
material e.g. email petitions, weblogs and satirical emails such as those circulated
opposing the war in Iraq.
What kinds of design methods and media are most appropriate to these settings?
How can we design systems to enable and encourage access and participatory
democracy in a world of computer mediated communication and digital divides?
How might practitioners maximise the impact of electronic tools on their
Which design and evaluation techniques are appropriate for such movements
and organisations, and is there a need to develop new methods and techniques?
What kinds of design and development tools can be made available for (generally
inexperienced) volunteers to make best use of available technologies?
What lessons can be learned from case studies of social movement and civil
society informatics applications;
How can we study the interactions between participants in social movements
and systems designed to support them?
How does engagement with electronic campaigns relate to 'real world' activism?
What are the challenges in attempting to counter undesirable developments,
e.g. campaigning by racist or sectarian groups, and how might this differ
when computer mediated methods are used?
Can open-source be used to support such groups, without technical and usability
challenges undermining dissemination?
How can campaigns integrate electronic and physical information systems
to maintain involvement?
How can social movements use ICT to organise across boundaries of language,
organisations and culture?
What consequences for social movements arise from differing social and technological
contexts in different parts of the world?
How might different developments of internet governance arrangements and
intellectual property rights relate to such groups?