Empowerment is not simply a Goal, but Civic Technology still needs it as one

2019. Graeff, E. “Empowerment is not simply a Goal, but Civic Technology still needs it as one.” CSCW 2019 Workshop on Design and the Politics of Collaboration: A Grassroots Perspective.

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The use of technology platforms for civic engagement is transforming the practices and experience of democracy, as well as the processes of political empowerment and civic education. This demands that such technology be designed more consciously to support citizen empowerment and civic learning. I have developed new metrics and methods to evaluate technology platforms in terms of citizen empowerment in order to replace more common metrics that merely look at a technology’s efficiency. This can help establish citizen empowerment as a design goal for civic technology. However, empowerment is not a goal, it is a process and experience. True empowerment will require that the creation of technology be a collaboration of stakeholders, wherein power and agency throughout the design process are shared. Still, I believe that articulating a goal of and metrics for empowerment can be a helpful milestone to making civic technology in empowering ways.

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