Researchers studying 10,000 Solutions participatory online platform

September 23, 2011

What are the conditions that increase and sustain collective action?

Arizona State University researchers are working to answer this question through a National Science Foundation RAPID research grant that will study participation in 10,000 Solutions, a problem solving participatory Web site initiated by ASU that addresses local and global challenges.

10,000 Solutions is a newly launched project that releases the power of collaborative imagination to create solutions to issues. The project seeks input from the ASU community and the public for solutions to the world's greatest challenges on topics ranging from education to technology and from health to human rights.

Participatory challenge Web sites where citizens contribute to problem solving are an increasingly popular tool that governmental organizations are utilizing.

"Challenge Web sites are a new approach to utilize information from the public. We anticipate learning about this new medium's effectiveness and potential during this study," said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

Researchers are in the advantageous position of being able to study the ASU community, unique as a student body in both diversity and size. Part of the research will use current governance studies to guide the design of the 10,000 Solutions Web site.

"This is the first large-scale study of the online participatory platform's effectiveness that we're aware of," said Erik Johnston, one of the principal investigators for the study and an assistant professor in ASU's School of Public Affairs in the College of Public Programs. "Challenge online sites will be part of the next wave of governance, but to realize their potential, systematic research is necessary."

Rounding out the research team are: Marty Anderies, associate professor in the ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Marco Janssen, associate professor in the ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change; Spiro Maroulis, assistant professor in the ASU School of Public Affairs in the College of Public Programs; and Hari Sundaram, associate professor in the ASU School of Arts Media and Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The National Science Foundation grant for $200,000 during the first year will support three stages of the program. During the first stage, researchers will map how participation spreads as the community proposes solutions to the world's challenges. Real-time feedback will be tested to find out how being aware of one's place within a community influences network dynamics such as who is communicated with, collaborated with and the degree to which people participate.

"We're interested in finding out what happens when we provide information about the networks they are in and how this encourages increased participation," Johnston said.

The second stage will examine different voting mechanisms and how those change community dynamics, perceptions of accountability and legitimacy and how ongoing participation is encouraged.

"We're hoping that when people know their ideas are earning the attention of the community, they feel like they are part of a collaborative community, invest time in developing their ideas, and therefore are less likely to drop out," Johnston said.

During the third phase of the research, participant teams interested in similar solutions will be combined to develop improved solutions and figure out how to implement their vision.

"That's where the rubber hits the road. We want problem solving," Johnston said.

Researchers will also study how the quality of solutions generated varies depending on how teams are formed, the structure of the teams and diversity of participants within teams. Since this aims to be a multi-year project, researchers can also study how participant's behavior and attitudes change over time and how next year's class learns from this year's experience. The research team will utilize the Elinor Ostrom Multi-Method Lab in the ASU Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity to study specific aspects about teams working together.

Research could provide valuable feedback on the viability of participatory online sites in government and other organizations.

"We need to rethink and rebuild the relationship between individuals and their government at every level. In the last 20 to 30 years, people have largely thought of government as a distant organization that will take care of issues. Anyone following the news can see that model is not sustainable," Johnston said.
-end-


Arizona State University

Related Human Evolution Articles from Brightsurf:

Cell-autonomous immunity shaped human evolution
Every human cell harbors its own defenses against microbial invaders, relying on strategies that date back to some of the earliest events in the history of life, researchers report.

Hunter-gatherer networks accelerated human evolution
Humans began developing a complex culture as early as the Stone Age.

Ancient gut microbiomes shed light on human evolution
The microbiome of our ancestors might have been more important for human evolution than previously thought.

Environment, not evolution, might underlie some human-ape differences
Apes' abilities have been unfairly measured, throwing into doubt the assumed belief that human infants are superior to adult chimpanzees, according to a new study by leaders in the field of ape cognition.

Neandertal genes give clues to human brain evolution
A distinctive feature of modern humans is our round (globular) skulls and brains.

Dryer, less predictable environment may have spurred human evolution
Evidence of a variable but progressively drying climate coincides with a major shift in stone-tool-making abilities and the appearance of modern Homo sapiens.

Evolution of psychiatric disorders and human personality traits
How and why human-unique characteristics such as highly social behavior, languages and complex culture have evolved is a long-standing question.

What gorilla poop tells us about evolution and human health
A study of the microbiomes of wild gorillas and chimpanzees offers insights into the evolution of the human microbiome and might even have implications for human health.

Why expressive brows might have mattered in human evolution
Highly mobile eyebrows that can be used to express a wide range of subtle emotions may have played a crucial role in human survival, new research from the University of York suggests.

Interdisciplinary approach yields new insights into human evolution
The evolution of human biology should be considered part and parcel with the evolution of humanity itself, proposes Nicole Creanza, assistant professor of biological sciences.

Read More: Human Evolution News and Human Evolution Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.