I finished my PhD at MIT this August, on “Large Scale Participatory Futures Systems: a Comparative Study of Online Scenario Planning Approaches”.
I’ll write more soon, but here is the full PDF (11.4 megabytes) and the slides from my defense, below.
From the abstract:
This dissertation explores the role that participatory online collective intelligence systems might play in urban planning research. Specifically, it examines methodological and practical issues raised by the design and use of such systems in long-term policy formulation, with a focus on their potential as data collection instruments and analytical platforms for qualitative scenario planning.
The research questions addressed herein examine how the use of collective intelligence platforms can inform the process of scenario planning in urban public policy. Specifically, how (if at all) does the design and deployment of such platforms influence the number and type of participants involved, people’s reasons for participation, the kinds of activities they perform, and the speed and timeline of the scenario creation process? Finally, what methodological considerations does the use of such instruments raise for urban planning research in the future?
Two prototypical online platforms were developed to explore these issues. In-depth interviews with experts in the fields of urban planning, public participation, crowdsourcing, and scenarios were conducted, combined with secondary analysis of comparable approaches in other fields. The results were used to create an analytical framework for comparing systems across a common set of measurement constructs. This framework was used to analyze the case studies relative to a base case and three additional comparative examples. The dissertation closes with a reflection on how the use of such online approaches might impact the role and process of qualitative scenario research in public policy formulation in the future, and what this suggests for subsequent scholarly inquiry.
As you can see, this was a community affair, to which I owe everything to my many friends and collaborators. Thanks to all of you who helped make this happen.