Why we need EDV

Even though social media is thoroughly embedded in voters’ culture we have yet to come up with an engaging, interactive way to share our feedback on election debates, but perhaps all that is about to change.

The Election Debate Visualisation (EDV) project – a collaboration between KMi and the University of Leeds has created an attractive feedback tool which could provide an alternative to sharing your feedback through Twitter. What’s more, the project also aims to analyse the responses of users.

Viewers can express their feelings and thoughts by using digital cards which capture different reflective statements. They can say – for instance – ‘I’m losing interest’ or ‘S/he’s just saying what people want to hear’ and so on. At the same time, viewers can also watch the live feed of reactions from other users interacting with the tool.

When the first televised debates took place ahead of the 2010 General Election, research identified a public appetite for understanding more about the political parties and their policies, but discovered viewers were often left feeling disengaged.

Last Thursday saw the first of two televised debates between candidates for this year’s General Election on 7th May. Halfway through the debate you could be forgiven for feeling disconnected with your fellow voters.  The audience feedback available from following #ElectionDebate on Twitter, although occasionally amusing, arguably didn’t really provide a high quality insight into the public’s reaction to the arguments being made. Some users also found that they were quickly being spammed by tweets from political parties giving their own feedback to the speakers’ performances.

Once the debate was finished, it was over to the BBC to analyse the public’s reaction using “the Worm”, which shows quantitative rather than qualitative data and does not provide the split of negative and positive feedback in discernible detail.

Alternatively the EDV’s Democratic Reflection app, available on laptops, tablets and mobile devices, aims to capture viewers’ views and feelings and use this to build a richer understanding of our democratic needs, engagement and reflections on the political debate.

You will be able to try it on 16th to have your say on the Challenger Debate between five opposition party leaders – Labour, SNP, UKIP, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru. Keep your eye on KMi’s website for news of when it goes live.


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