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Public Lab Research note

Seeking input on prioritizing Topic page updates

by bhamster | July 02, 2020 15:07 02 Jul 15:07 | #24079 | #24079

Hello community members!

As part of my role at Public Lab, I'll be helping to review and update our Topics pages so that they are as current, comprehensive, and useful as possible to the community. I would love to collaborate on this process and in choosing which Topics (a.k.a. Research Areas) to prioritize. If you'd like to join, please read on!

I'll be building on previous thinking on Research Area Reviews (captured here, here, and here). The first collaborative task is to choose four Topics to focus attention on for the rest of the year. Check out the list of Topics currently featured on Public Lab here.


What would you find helpful or effective in a collaborative process for choosing Topics? An open call where we all convene at one time? A page calling for votes on Topics, where you can add thoughts at any time? Both? Any specific approaches or practices to use/avoid?

I'd appreciate any thoughts, ideas, or questions on this! Please comment below to share.

Also, stay tuned for more information on an upcoming community event, hopefully in August, where we can continue the conversation.


Great post! I'm wondering if anyone has noticed the 17 Topics that are now featured on this site's Navigation Bar and in the footer? If so, what do you think of these Topics?

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What is the relationship between the Topics page and the Tags page?

I'd be excited to see water, soil, air, and organizing prioritized as categories for 2020. There's a lot of content there, and including organizing would provide some space for cross-pollination and pulling together different strategies across research areas.

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Thank you so much for writing back Katie! Short answer is that Topics are curated "Research areas" that area relevant to environmental justice inquiry whereas tags are simply all tags that have ever been used.

"water, soil, air, and organizing" are each big, and together they are enormous...essentially the entire website. There are many research areas within each of water, air, and soil, so taking on these broadest categories would exceed our capacity to review in the next 5 months, ad we would fail 😅 .

I'm wondering if you were to try to narrow down to what part of "water" would be most helpful, what you might come up with? Same for "air" and "soil"?

Thanks again for engaging with this meta question!

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One more bit on this. The question being posed here is how would you (meaning anyone reading this :), prefer to have a conversation about which Topics to prioritize? @bhamster and I are asking ahead of time so that we can take preferences into account when designing our prioritization process.

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Potential date for the event where community members and staff would work together to prioritize topics may be August 20, so we'll be designing the format before then. Thank you!

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