Idea Terminals comprise a network of feedback stations intended to promote dialogue between citizens and the political class. In using an idea terminal citizens submit critiques or concepts around specific topics. Each submission is then clustered by topic and visualized at City Hall. This output provides politicians with an ambient indication of the city's sentiment. Passersby at city hall can approach a podium to hear the real voices of the city.
The Idea Terminal is conceived as a piece of speculative design — just practical enough to make its point. That said, design decisions were informed and inspired by extreme user research. The team conducted multiple field interviews with extreme users throughout the Washington, D.C. area. These included a globe-trekking healthcare advocate, a die-hard Tea Partier, and a pro-smoking advocate with an insatiable hunger for free speech.
These interviews helped illuminate key issues facing politically active citizens, for example the 'fact paradox', whereby both sides of a debate believe their opponents are tragically misled, and would come around if only they had the facts.