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It was an exciting day yesterday when we pulled up the curtains and opened up the website to everyone. We’re currently in alpha, which means that we’re sharing this first iteration of our experiment with you and would love to hear your thoughts and feedback about what works and what doesn’t. You can read the statement that we prepared for more info on this here.

So play around with the pies and let us know what you think either by replying to this post or on twitter!

Happy participying! (we’ll push this pun as far as it will go)

As part of the ‘Extreme Data/Extreme Story’ session at the 2012 MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference, Cesar Hidalgo talked about “Truly Crazy Data” and spent some minutes talking about the Participie project.

From the conference page:

In this conference, we’re exploring the relationship between storytelling and data — this plenary session features a storyteller who’s going to amazing lengths to tell the story of human migration, and a scientist using data to unpack the mysteries of economics.

Watch live streaming video from knightfoundation at livestream.com

One of the great suggestions we got from colleagues is that the website in its present form assumes that the user is an informed one and hence may not prove to be as useful or engaging for the average citizen.  For that reason, we decided to create a discussion page to go along with each pie that allows users to post their arguments supporting the increase or decrease of a particular slice in a pie.  Arguments are voted on by others, allowing the best ones to percolate to the top.

Here are a couple of screenshots of the discussion page for the federal budget pie.

Discussion page showing one of the slices

Users are able to add to the discussion

Updated menu bar

A few more updates done this week:

  1. Mousing over ‘the bakery’ in the menu bar reveals a tab that gives you the option to go straight to the Bake a Pie page or the Wall of Pies page depending on which of those two pages you’re on, so that you’re not forced to go to the bakery first.
  2. A box at the top of the Wall of Pies page shows some stats about the pies as well as the latest comments.
  3. When a filter is selected on the Wall of Pies page, we now update the average pies as well.
  4. Some misc. aesthetic changes done throughout

Filter option added

Just one new addition this week: a new feature added to the Wall of Pies page for each of our questions allows you to now filter submissions by age, gender and politics.

We’ll be regrouping again once finals are over and then setting a plan of action to determine what to work on in our final stretch, after which we’ll be opening up the website for public access.

Stay tuned!

Cesar Hidalgo gave a talk at this year’s 2012 Spring Member Meeting, dubbed IO: Community, alongside other notable speakers John Maeda, Sep Kamvar and Reid Hoffman. Cesar talked about human beings’ apparent tendency towards ‘oversimplification’ and brought to light some of the problems associated with that.

The talk also unveiled, for the first time, the currently in-progress Participie project. Watch the segment below or visit the Media Lab website for the entire archive.

Hearting permalinks

Permalinks are now enabled, which means that you can easily share your pies, either immediately after submission via social sharing buttons that we provide, or at some point in the future via the heart icons beside each pie.

Professor Cesar A. Hidalgo recently attended the World Economic Forum and talked about the future of online forms of political participation. He outlined the need to push three agendas (i) a research agenda, geared towards understanding the issues and ranges of relevant participation (ii) a design agenda, looking at the creation of engaging tools, and (iii) a political agenda, that gets the needed buy-in from the current political establishment. He concluded by discussing the promises and limitations of direct forms of online political participation.

Average pies added

A useful new addition to the website now shows the average pies for each category (Federal Budget and Talking Points) on the Bakery page. There’s also a new row of average pies at the top of each category’s Wall of Pies page, showing the average pie split by political affiliation.

Other than that, quite a few minor additions, changes and tweaks have been added.  The social sharing buttons and pie sorting dropbown are currently being worked on and should start working within the coming couple of days.  After that, we should be in good shape to open up the website for a beta trial and then go from there!