Designing Systems that Support the Blogosphere for Deliberative Discourse
by David Schuff, Temple University,Ozgur Turetken, Ryerson University and Asif Zaheeruddin, Institute of Business Administration Karachi.
Web 2.0 has great potential to serve as a public sphere (Habermas, 1974; Habermas, 1989) – a distributed arena of voices where all who want to do so can participate. A well-functioning public sphere is important for pluralistic decision-making at many levels, ranging from small organizations to society at large. In this paper, we analyze the capability of the blogosphere in its current form to support such a role. This analysis leads to the identification of the principal issues that prevent the blogosphere from realizing its full potential as a public sphere. Most significantly, we propose that the sheer volume of content overwhelms blog readers, forcing them to restrict themselves to only a small subset of valuable content. This ultimately reduces their level of informedness. Based on past research on managing discourse, we propose four design artifacts that would alleviate these issues: a communal repository, textual clustering, visual cues, and a participation facility for blog users. We present a prototype system, called FeedWiz, which implements several of these design artifacts. Based on this initial design, we formulate a research agenda for the creation of new tools that effectively harness the potential of the growing body of user-generated content in the blogosphere and beyond.