A participatory internet

May 20, 2021

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading New Public a lot lately, or because I saw this post on Instagram, but I can’t stop thinking about how we all relate to and trust the internet.

When the internet was first created it was primarily for use by government and for research purposes. But in the 90’s and 2000’s, the internet, as we know it today, started to be used more widely, for things like emails, e-commerce, and online forums. Later, Web 2.0 came around, which describes an approach in which websites focus on allowing users to interact and collaborate with each other. (Source: History of the Internet).

So, in really not a lot of time, the internet has become a place where we learn, share, interact, make things, find things, and ultimately, spend a whole lot of our time. But in the age of misinformation and an increasing distrust in media (and often, one another), how will we move from this sense of losing control, to a more collective and engaged way of interacting with the internet? And what might a participatory mindset bring to our approaches?

I'm not here to provide answers but I can share some resources that are supporting my thinking.


Portals to Beautiful Futures: A speculative trends report

What if instead of having the future prescribed by others, we create collective processes for people to feel part of designing their futures?

If there’s one thing you takeaway from this post, I hope it’s having a look at this report. To create this report, the Guild of Future Architects invited 1000+ people to participate in sessions where they would imagine and articulate shared visions for how we might reimagine systems.

To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks

Much of our communal life now unfolds in digital spaces that feel public but are not.

I loved this piece by Eli Pariser, mostly because I think there’s no better way to understand digital spaces than by comparing them to something we’ve been existing in for a while longer, the physical world. Here, Eli argues that in order to fix the internet we need to build spaces that allow us to gather, communicate, and share.

This place of mine

This project invited young Greater Manchester creatives to co-imagine the future of their high streets and town centres through digital art, culture and creativity. Through online collaboration and creative discussion, the project is an example of creating an online space for expressing thoughts and ideas and influencing change.


This was originally published on my newsletter, Design With. It was archived in 2023.