University of Oulu

The design and evaluation of an interactive “Soapbox” platform for civic engagement

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Author: Wang, Kai1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.4 MB)
Persistent link: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:oulu-201609142781
Language: English
Published: Oulu : K. Wang, 2016
Publish Date: 2016-09-19
Physical Description: 75 p.
Thesis type: Master's thesis (tech)
Tutor: Kukka, Hannu
Reviewer: Kukka, Hannu
Jurmu, Marko
Description:

Abstract

This thesis presents an interactive Soapbox platform, which utilizes the networked public displays to encourage local citizens to participate in civic engagement. The Soapbox is comprised of three subsystems: Soapbox for speaker, Soapbox for audience and Shoutbox. Soapbox for speaker allows people to deliver a speech to the public. It also receives and displays the feedback sent by the audience. Soapbox for audience enables users to watch a speech and give feedback to it, such as thumbs-up, thumbs-down and report. The feedback will be synchronously sent to all connected public displays. Shoutbox is seen as an input tool that runs on personal devices, to edit comments and share them on the public displays. With Shoutbox, the local citizens can express their opinions and exchange ideas with the speaker and other audiences. In addition, the audience can also give thumbs-up or thumbs-down through Shoutbox.

The Soapbox platform was evaluated in both the lab and the field. In the lab study, twelve participants were recruited to implement the prepared tasks and evaluate the system by filling a questionnaire generated by AttrakDiff. Apart from that, we conducted a short interview about their feeling of using the system. In the field trials, we deployed four public displays at the campus of the University of Oulu for seven weekdays, during which we conducted 28h observations and interviewed 21 participants (seven speakers, fourteen audience members). The respondents were also asked to evaluate the system through a semi-structured questionnaire. In total, 23 speakers tried and experienced the system, and 39 audience members joined Shoutbox and sent 92 comments.

We studied users’ behaviors when they interacted with the Soapbox platform. The evaluation shows that the users are curious and positive about trying Soapbox platform, and they can quickly grasp how to use it. The honey pot effect made a significant difference in increasing the number of speakers and audiences participating in civic engagement. The questionnaire results show that the Soapbox platform is perceived as a simple, practical, straightforward, predictable, stylish, attractive, inviting, appealing and motivating system. The chi-square test shows that during a speech, females tend to give more encouraging comments to speakers than males. We argue that the Soapbox’s design as a practical and stylish tool is very appropriate for its purpose, and believe that the interactive Soapbox platform can effectively attract more citizens to participate in the civic engagement.

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Copyright information: © Kai Wang, 2016. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.