The relational atlas as a learning and collaborative tool

The atlas helps web users develop a more complete and “systemic” vision of a territory and its complexity.

By revealing groups of relationships, the atlas makes it possible to launch a debate, develop a different view on a theme, and access feedback that completes its own action.

With the atlas, you can spot focal points and possible angles of approach, identify available experiences, and confirm an approach.

In this case, direct entry through the atlas is to be favoured. With this type of browsing you can first look at the theme globally, including its relationships and neighbours, before moving onto a more practical approach through the website’s resources.

In the framework of a project on participatory democracy, users will carry out a search in the atlas’ search engine. The search produces several descriptors. Users chose to start by the easiest, “participatory democracy”, in order to develop a broad vision of the theme.

In the framework of our example, the level 1/ general descriptor “democratic system” interests users particularly, as it describes the operating environment of the institutions that organize the territory. It describes the model that governs the political space in which society evolves.

Relationships and new, more precise descriptors are built on the basis of this constituent descriptor of the atlas’ matrix. This is the case for “participatory democracy”. As an element of a democratic system, participatory democracy can be addressed through the entries relating to the involved actors (inhabitants, citizens), the typologies of practices (local, formal and substantial democracy), the dynamic created on the territory (social demand for participation, citizen mobilization), the tools/means that can be used to bring it to life (developing the power to act of citizens, the control of public action, citizen panels, citizen conferences), to name a few.

This browsing allows two things:

  • Moving to an always finer level of detail. For example, finding experiences that chronicle processes and methods of participatory democracy, supported by the development of the power to act of citizens and by citizen initiatives, making it possible to ascertain on the ground the way in which these initiatives contribute to the improvement of processes of participatory democracy
  • To move back to a level 1, towards another large category. For example, participatory democracy is interested in inhabitants. These inhabitants are actors of the urban fabric, and more globally actors of the organization of space and of urban planning

In the course of this browsing, the atlas makes it possible to understand participatory democracy as a way to mobilize inhabitants on topics of spatial organization. Conversely, the organization of a territory’s urban planning could not disregard its inhabitants and their participation.

Therefore, with the atlas you can access resources such as capitalizations of experience which, unlike traditional aggregations, are confronted / crossed with one another. For example, 41 documents are indexed to the descriptor “participatory democracy”, which corresponds to as many resources that can be used, confronted, or crossed with one another.