Whatfutures: designing large-scale engagements on WhatsApp

Daniel Lambton-Howard, Robert Anderson, Kyle Montague, Andrew Garbett, Shaun Hazeldine, Carlos Alvarez, John A. Sweeney, Patrick Olivier, Ahmed Kharrufa

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    WhatsApp, as the world’s most popular messaging application, offers significant opportunities for improving the reach and effectiveness of engagement projects. In collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) we designed WhatFutures, a collaborative future forecasting engagement for global youth using WhatsApp. WhatFutures was successfully deployed with 487 players across 5 countries (Kenya, Bulgaria, Finland, Australia and Hong Kong) to inform strategic change within the IFRC. Based on our analysis of the activity - including 16,100 messages, 95 multimedia artifacts, and a post-engagement survey - we present a reflection upon the design decisions underpinning WhatFutures and identify how decisions made around group structures, processes and externalization of outputs influenced engagement and data quality. We conclude with the wider implications of our findings for the design of engagements that best utilize the affordances of existing messaging applications.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
    EditorsAnna Cox, Vassilis Kostakos
    Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
    PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Electronic)9781450359702
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventInternational Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2019 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
    Duration: 4 May 20199 May 2019
    Conference number: 37th
    https://dl.acm.org/doi/proceedings/10.1145/3290605 (Proceedings)


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2019
    Abbreviated titleCHI 2019
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


    • Collaborative content creation
    • Engagement
    • WhatsApp

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