to ITC home page

back to publications

This site is now an archive. Please visit us at the Centre for Social Informatics (September 2011)

skip to navigation

Seeing the point of politics: exploring the use of CSAV techniques as aids to understanding the content of political debates in the Scottish Parliament

Governments now recognise the potential for ICTs to improve the way in which they can engage with the population, whether conducting online consultations to elicit the people’s views on proposed policy, or disseminating information via websites. However, much of the information remains in text format, leaving the task of extracting data the viewer’s responsibility. This can be a daunting prospect, especially in the case of reports of parliamentary proceedings. In the past, Argument Visualisation techniques were used in training law students to render legal cases easier to comprehend; now, enhanced by all the advantages ICT has to offer, these techniques are employed to help make sense of thorny problems in academia and business. The possibility exists that such methods might also serve to clarify complex political issues of interest to the public. This paper describes an investigation into such a possibility. Two debates taken from the Scottish Parliament 2003 Autumn session were converted into argument visualisations and presented for comparison with the ‘Official Report’ to assess whether the visualisations offered any advantages over the textual alternative.