New Public "spent two years reviewing the literature and talked to over 100 experts from disciplines ranging from social psychology to urban planning about the qualities of flourishing public, or semi-public, spaces" for their Building better digital public spaces report. The goal: "to support engineers, designers and builders who want to create more flourishing, inclusive digital public spaces ... [plus] measurement framework for externally evaluating how platforms are doing". They also tested the resulting framework "with thousands of digital citizens in 20 countries".
Apart from the content itself, the interactive guided presentation is a superb example of scrollytelling: https://newpublic.org/interactive.
There are four building blocks for a "flourishing digital public space...:
- welcoming and safe to all,
- help us understand and make sense of the world
- connect people near and far across hierarchies and divides,
- enable us to act together."
For each block there are a number of signals, encapsulated by a question - 14 in total. Of particular interest to me, given my work in participation in an EU context:
- Welcome: "Does everyone feel invited to participate?" Or is this something for the Brussels Bubble?
- Connect: "is also about bridging effectively between different groups and connecting to those in positions of power... Does the space encourage fruitful connections between groups that aren’t naturally alike... strengthen emotional, structural, and participative ties to geographically local communities? ...
- Understand: "making sure everyone has access to reliable, factual information that increases... our understanding of the world beyond our own experiences... context that helps us agree on the fundamental shared reality" - cf providing quality content as a conversational underpinning, such as setting out EU added value via thematic, not organisational interfaces written for an interested general public, not EU specialists.
- Act: how does "our behavior in digital spaces spills over into physical spaces, inspiring us to work together ... become better, more informed... citizens?" - I'd go further and ask how well integrated the digital space is with physical spaces and civic activity.