Democratising Technology:
a Method (DemTech)

"Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand." Confucius, BC 450

How can we imagine the future? "Democratising Technology" engages people who are marginalised by design decisions about digital technologies in choosing how our world might be. In an age of computer networks and growing (but intangible) connectivity between people and things, we offer a series of techniques, suitable for a wide range of groups, which encourage participation, imaginative re-thinking and making connections to help us articulate how we'd like to interact in the future. Using such techniques, we can involve more people more democratically in the design of our society and choose socially desirable paths for innovation.

In a series of videoed interviews and demonstrations, a team including computer scientists, performance artists and researchers shows how we worked with groups of older people using DemTech methods. Excerpts are available here.

The Democratising Technology method (DemTech) comes out of a research project funded by the AHRC/EPSRC's "Designing for the 21st Century" programme.

The project's goals were

  • to explore the effectiveness of performance techniques in supporting people outside the design world to envision alternative social arrangements enabled by technology
  • to link performance envisioning methods with the way we actually adopt tools so as to produce new techniques in design
  • to devise forms of interaction that require the minimum amount of input from researchers so that people's own values and interests lead the work. We hope that the result may find use in training designers, working with non-professionals in design and involving stakeholders in the design process for new technology. 
The project produced a public exhibition of commissioned artworks, research documentation and interactive exhibits; a series of workshop activities with community groups; and a performance lecture. All these are documented, as well as more formal academic outputs, in these pages.