Factors Affecting Conversation Design for Digital Political Personae
Digital political personae are common on social media, representing a potential avenue to inform and engage citizens in political conversation. While personae that function as a digital extension of politicians and commentators are clearly identifiable, large numbers of automated personae of limited sophistication also engage in political exchanges in online spaces. Despite their prevalence, little prior work has addressed conversation design approaches to maximise the effectiveness of digital political personae in their interactions with users. A review of the literature highlighted a range of approaches for effective use of digital tools in political contexts, including strategies for conveying information, sustaining engagement and employing and responding to emotive language on polarising topics. Examination of interactions with existing political personae on social media revealed that many of these approaches were limited or absent from the current conversational paradigm. Chatbot software was used to explore methods that would address the issues identified with existing digital political personae through an iterative design process. A layered interaction scenario was developed that supports branching political conversation on a central topic, with a base of secondary topics to enhance the utility of the persona. The conversation design developed incorporates lessons from the literature on use of effective digital tools for political conversation, and has the potential to engage and inform large numbers of participants, as well as gather information from them for analysis.