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Designing Controversies and Their Publics

Tommaso Venturini, Donato Ricci, Michele Mauri, Lucy Kimbell, Axel Meunier

Controversy mapping is a teaching and research method derived from the Science and Technology Studies and meant to explore and represent modern sociotechnical issues. Striving to make the intricacy of scientific debate readable for a larger public, controversy mapping is trapped in a classic simplicity/complexity trade-?‐off: how to respect the richness of controversies without designing maps too complicated to be useful? Having worked on the question for almost two years in a project bringing together social scientists and designers (emapsproject.com1), we can now propose a way out of this contradiction and suggest three ways of moving through the simplicity/complexity continuum. The first movement -?‐by multiplying the number of maps and by taking into account users before the beginning and after the end of the design process-?‐ allows to bypass the simplicity/complexity trade-?‐off. The second movement bind together narration and exploration and allows the publics to venture in the maze of controversies unraveling the story that will guide them out. The third movement allows to involve the publics through all the phases of a cartographic campaign and to engage it again and again.