“Virtual Town Hall” design doc

People interested in politics are more and more frequently using online media to become better informed, hear other viewpoints and exercise their voices. This application, called Virtual Town Hall, would provide this political discussion-thirsting audience a virtual social space to pursue online political discussion about both federal and local issues in an involved, organized, ongoing way. It is an online interactive application that combines aspects of existing online discussion tools (i.e. chat rooms, blogs, comment threads, message boards, etc.) and takes it to the next level by centralizing the discussion  format around data visualization, live conversation and an appropriate town hall theme. With the key audience of adults who enjoy discussing US politics and news in their free time, this medium is designed to improve the discussion experience in a way that appeals to their needs. It also is optimized for online integration capability with sites that this audience already congregates at, allowing opportunity for outside-account support and for both user-generated content and commentary on already-existing content. Furthermore, this application incorporates other social and game-like features such as avatars, ranks and friends lists. It sets itself apart from other online discussion tools because of its special features, unique discussion format, and visual theme that creates an appropriate context for the conversation. It could be the must-have interactive online installation of all news and politics-based media. With Virtual Town Hall, people who love talking politics can finally facilitate live, thoughtful discussions at any time, about any topic, with anyone.

This design document provides a general overview of the application and the design process behind it. However, it primarily focuses on the unique chat feature–discussion circles.

Here’s a short presentation to summarize the concept:

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