Session – Political Issues Analysis System using iFish

This session will be used to explore the evolving applications of online political communication strategies and tools in order to understand the ‘deliberative’ processes of users. The session will be related to an ongoing project that deals with ‘political issues’ such as health, the economy, and environment and how users discover and make sense of these issues. 

Emerging research suggests that the Internet’s capacity to easily produce information has also led to data overload, undermining its deliberative potential.  With the advent of the National Broadband Network the ‘data deluge’ promises to intensify increasing the need for political information—in its various guises—to be delivered in much more meaningful ways.

We’ve partially developed one tool to be applied and extended we call ‘Poli-Fish’. It aggregates and rates the policies of registered Australian political parties (from their web sites) and displays them within various political spectrums. Through sliders, the user can explore a broad spectrum of policies along with the associated political parties. The prototype can be seen in action here:

The approach we are attempting is both innovative and unique because it combines the theoretical understandings of Politics and Media Studies with the technical proficiency of Humanities Computing, eDemocracy and Information Systems to expose important issues of online political information to critique in ways that were previously unavailable. This all raises various discussion points for the session on the dichotomy between the availability of government and other data sources and effective online deliberative design. The work may open up theoretical and technological pathways towards a more genuinely identifiable (and sustainable) online political engagement.

The Poli-Fish application is an instance of another project called iFish. The iFish project addresses the challenging problems of using online environments to offer advice relating to complex sets of data. The challenge is to maintain a user’s engagement in the system long enough to explore possible outcomes in a system that is not completely deterministic and offers no single right answer. Our particular research interest in using an engaging, affective interface to attract and maintain a person’s attention, whilst at the same time trying to keep their focus on the task presented. Hence we want to encourage exploration with mind on task. More information on the iFish project can be found here:


About Mitchell Harrop

I'm a PhD student in the department of Information Systems at the University of Melbourne. My research is on the negotiation of rules in online multiplayer games. I also work on the iFish project which is an interface for playfully exploring datasets:
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