World Power League: A Futurelab Prototype Research Report
01 August 2005
The World Power League project set out to explore the possibility of creating a web application that would allow young people to engage with issues of power, citizenship and politics. It was intended to support the development of their active participation as citizens. A literature survey identified the need for the system to make users feel that they have a 'voice' and that their views 'count'; to allow them to appreciate others' perspectives, values and beliefs; and to identify how power, politics and citizenship acts take place in local communities as well as nationally and internationally.
The project has led to the development of the World Power League, a prototype web-based application created in late spring and early summer 2005. It allows users to cast votes in a series of 'duels': two people are randomly selected from a database, and users have to vote for which they feel ought to have more power. The results of voting are automatically arrangement hierarchically in the league itself, allowing users to see the results of group voting, and to see if their votes match up with the overall tally. They can also then nominate themselves as candidates in the league by drafting a manifesto, identifying issues related to power, politics and citizenship that they would like to change, and submitting it to the system.
Trials of the application took place at two school sites in summer 2005. Students were generally engaged by and enthusiastic about their use of the World Power League. They liked the voting system, and thought that the randomness and incongruity of mixing politics with entertainment and with 'normal people' made it interesting. They also thought it occasionally stimulated some quite difficult decision-making, as when one boy reported that he had to choose between Saddam Hussain and George Bush.