Time-lines: A World-Building Activity for Values Advocacy

Difficulty Level:

Method Overview

Time-lines is a design activity created for an individual or group of technology professionals to engage in perspective-taking scenarios that form discussions about ethics and values in technology.  

Framework of ethics used:

Method Intentions:

Getting Started

You will need 


  • A large timeline triangle drawn on a large piece of paper or white board. For group facilitation – large 25 by 30 inch pads of paper or drew the triangle on a whiteboard. 
  • Sticky Notes 
  •  Index Cards 
  •  Sharpies or markers

Participants: individual, group

Steps (Timelines: A World-Building Activity for Values Applied):

  1. Decide on an artifact—a technology, system, or feature—that you want to explore.
  2. On index cards, brainstorm stakeholders—someone who is related to the artifact, either directly or indirectly.
  3. Using sticky notes, brainstorm potential news headlines related to the artifact. 
  4. Take turns to place the headlines on the large shared timeline triangle to create stories of events related to the artifact.
  5. Return to the stakeholder index cards from Step 2. Brainstorm possible social media posts from situated points of view of different stakeholders.
  6. Share your social media posts, and shift into a broader discussion to reflect on insights from the activity. 

Further Reading

Edmond Awad, Sohan Dsouza, Richard Kim, Jonathan Schulz, Joseph Henrich, Azim Sharif, Jean-François Bonnefon, and Iyad Rahwan. 2018. The Moral Machine experiment. Nature 563, 7729 (nov 2018), 59–64. https://doi.org/10.1038/ s41586-018-0637-6 

Stephanie Ballard, Karen M. Chappell, and Kristen Kennedy. 2019. Judgment Call the Game: Using value sensitive design and design fiction to surface ethical concerns related to technology. In Proceedings of the 2019 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference – DIS ’19. ACM Press, New York, New York, USA, 421–433. https://doi.org/10.1145/3322276.3323697


Richmond Y. Wong and Tonya Nguyen. 2021. Timelines: A World-Building Activity for Values Advocacy. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’21), May 8–13, 2021, Yokohama, Japan. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 15 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3411764.3445447

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