Congreso Interactivo, Elegilegi and DEMOS - Presentation at TICTeC
Measuring citizen engagement in Argentina
1. Introduction and political context
2. Will NGOs use our PMO?
3. Did we just make 200.000 argentinians
question their vote?
4. Is the Buenos Aires city council opening up?
5 minutes for each topic, and then a conversation.
What are we going to cover?
So what is this Argentina you're
talking about? A personal perspective.
● 45M people
● Independence from
Spain in 1810/6.
● Small amount of
● 24 democratically
● 5 military coups in
● Currently 32 years
What was happening when I started
● 76' to 83' military
coup 30k dead.
● '84 "never more"
● 91' military
● Privatized state
● Double digit
● IMF rules the
Do I have a future?
● I had 15. Biggest
economic crisis in 2001.
● I saw the president resign
and run away in a
● I start working for the web,
I wanted to follow web
● It took me until 2009 to
realize I'm a citizen and I
had my share of
The congress around 2009
Interesting projects and debates.
● Media reform. Licenses handled by military.
● Gay rights. Inclusion should be for
● Nationalizations. Privatizations failed.
● Progressive taxes and retirement.
People started to take notice.
Will NGOs use our PMO?
Can user research help us improve the
Redesigning the legislative UX
Or is it citizen experience?
● Valuable information for all citizens.
● Processes that claim to represent all
● Mediated and biased access.
● Paths of action are hard to discover.
Defining key concepts: Mental Model
"The models people have of
themselves, others, the
environment. People form mental
models through experience, training,
- Don Norman
Defining key concepts: Persona
"User models, or personas,
are detailed, composite user
archetypes that represent
distinct groupings of
aptitudes, goals, and
motivations observed during
the Research phase."
Quotations from our interviews
● Talk directly to users (7 interviews)
● Observe them use the site
Tomás "the party member" Luly "the citizen"
● "I already know how to
vote and who to follow"
● "My party informs me of
the new laws they are
planning to pass"
● "I listen to the radio" tv or
● "I don't look for
information about the
Conclusions: First research round
● We enjoyed the research method and
thought it was useful.
● We had a hard time getting the volunteers to
actually perform the interviews.
● Our hypothetical personas were wrong.
● All citizens are not interested.
● Politized citizens already their
Second research round
On getting it right
● New personas hypothesis
● Five more interviews
Ricardo "the researcher" Julieta "the committed citizen"
● "we want to show the
congress is empty, that
no one is there fighting
for your rights"
● "they make it confusing
so its hard to access"
● "I went to the radio and
formed an association to
change the law"
● "It took me five years to
understand how to do it"
Interface design and usability
What tools do we need to build?
● Understanding activity
● Understanding actionability
How do we know they work?
● User testing in controlled settings
● Task-oriented measuring of failures
● 5 usability tests with NGOs
● 2 co-design sessions with designers and
● Improved language in many areas
● Added information based on requests
● Clarified the homepage introduction
Usability of the PMO
How do we know we are delivering what
Ensuring the match between the interface
model and the user mental model is the key.
Will they use it?
They said they would, and we have 100 users a
Did we just make 200.000
people question their vote?
With just a simple game.
How many people did we affect?
Stats for July 24th, 2013 - August 18th, 2013. Primaries where on August 11th.
Trends can be hidden by granularity
Interest decreases as
default view can hide
Peak of 4600
sessions in one hour
occurred at midnight,
9 days before the
And how can I say it made them
question their vote?
"When it comes to deciding a
vote, a useful and fun instrument
is the Elegilegi.org game"
- Horacio Verbitsky, human rights activist,
director of the Center for Legal and Social
Is the city council
Experimenting with DemocracyOS
in Buenos Aires
Demos, based in DemocracyOS
New forms of citizen participation in city council
How was the experiment?
Citizens ranked 16 projects by how interested
they were in voting them. 3 were selected.
Citizens debated and voted 3 projects.
The reps haven't voted on the projects yet.
Measures of citizen participation
● 20.000 users.
● 2.400 votes cast.
● 700 comments.
● Project authors engaged in
● The most voted project reached committee
debate after being frozen for two years.
● Users suggestions are compiled and will be
sent to the reps.
● Year ended before other projects could be
● None of the citizen-ranked projects reach the
● UX research and evaluation is a good way of
ensuring user acceptance of tools.
● Web analytics are a good way of evaluating
reach and engagement.
● Following parliamentary activity is needed
for evaluating whether participation
experiments effectively impact policy.
Let's have a conversation.