ParEvo: A free web-assisted participatory process for the exploration of alternative futures
The presentation will: (a) introduce and explain the functioning of the free-to-use ParEvo web app (parevo.org), (b) summarise the 13 exercises completed to date, (c) describe the analytic opportunities presented by the data that is generated, (d) explain the theory underpinning the design of the app.
ParEvo is a method of developing alternative futures, using a participatory evolutionary process (hence ParEvo). This involves the re-iteration of variation, selection and reproduction i.e. the evolutionary algorithm (Campbell, 1960; Dennett, 1996:48-60). The process is designed to be used by multiple people, to produce a collective good – a set of storylines. In addition, the process generates data on how value has been created individually and collectively.
The ParEvo app has two broad purposes. The first is to enable participants to improve the design, monitoring, and evaluation of activities designed to bring about change. This is done through the participatory identification of alternative storylines/scenarios about what might happen in the future, and the evaluation of those storylines, and the analysis of the implications of those storylines.
The second is to provide a platform where people can experiment with different ways of running participatory explorations of alternative futures. That is, a location where multiple ParEvo exercises will be carried out, and all the data from those exercises will be retained and available for comparison and analysis.
ParEvo is different from many scenario planning approaches in the very structured nature of people’s participation, and the ability to analyse participation data and its relationship to the types of scenarios that are developed. One important source of theory and research findings to inform this kind of analysis is the field of collective intelligence (whereby groups can be more productive and creative than their best individual members).