This paper discusses the challenges encountered when using technology to elicit social values around environmental decisions. Environmental decisions around biodiversity management occurs within a market environment and is always priced. This pricing is based on decisions around costs, time, tourism and, most importantly, social ‘values’. So, what is it all worth and what is it worth according to the people who live near the environment in question? Standard processes for economic valuations of the environment call on us to elicit public values. One of the most common approaches to eliciting environmental economic values from the public is discreet choice experiment, and increasingly, such experiments are done using technological tools that not only simplify data collection, but also provide almost instantaneous analysis. Yet for all the virtues of using technology for eliciting environmental economic values from the public, they also come with significant challenges. In this project, we worked with members of the local community to develop an economic valuation for the Otago Peninsula using a discrete choice experiment technology and asked: How does the specific practice and the specific setting of doing a technologically-based discrete choice experiment matter? Instead of focusing on the data generated by the experiment, we paid attention to the participants’ experience of participating in this technologically based discrete choice experiment. Doing so revealed some challenges and limitations of relying on technology for environmental economic evaluations and provided insights to consider in our valuation practice around commodification and power relations.
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