Archive for the 'E-democracy' Category

Checking in with four current examples of wiki-based dialogue and deliberation

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

I’m following a variety of projects in the area of online dialogue and deliberation. This past weekend, I took the time to look in a little more detail at four of the ones that follow a purely wiki-based approach to find out how they have been doing lately (screenshots on Flickr).

Please note that all four projects have slightly different objectives, covering such things as dialogue, deliberation, debate, discussion or argument mapping.

1. More Perfect

About More Perfect: “Imagine an entirely new approach to democracy where everyone is able to participate. Imagine a way to enable more direct public involvement and participation, creating a marketplace of ideas where the public can collaborate with each other on the matters that affect their daily lives. Fundamentally change the way policy makers and citizens approach the creation of laws today. That’s our vision.”

For the ten weeks between April 20 and June 29, 2007, a total of 43 edits occured according to the recent changes page. That’s an average of about 0.6 edits per day for this 71 day period.

2. Politicopia

I had mentioned Politicopia back in January. According to the wiki, Politicopia “gives people a solid handle on the Utah Legislature. Users create summaries of bills, pro and con arguments, comments, links, and more.”

There don’t seem to have occured any edits recently, though the wiki does not allow to examine this in more detail. As a proxy, I looked at number of revisions per page. The wiki currently lists a total of 116 pages. I count 1240 revisions, bringing the average to 10.7 revisions per page. The wiki has been live for roughly six months. Assuming a time period between December 25, 2006 and June 29, 2007 (184 days), the average is 6.7 revisions/edits per day.

To be fair, however, the wiki may have just been a first pilot to prepare for future projects. It was most active during the 45-day legislative session which ended in mid-February. Based on this shorter period (45 days), the average is about 27.6 revisions/edits per day.

3. Debatepedia

About Debatepedia: “Debatepedia is the free wiki encyclopedia of A-to-Z debates and pro and con arguments. It is the home and future of sound reasoning. Debatepedia is a project of the International Debate Education Association’s (IDEA) and Debatemedia, Inc. Debatepedia enables anyone (you included) to click “edit” and engage in a collective endeavor of documenting and structuring unique pro and con arguments on any topic, even topics that you initiate. Debatepedia is quickly becoming an indispensable resource for debaters, students, citizens, and even politicians to uncover salient arguments in important public debates and develop rational positions and perspectives. At its highest level, Debatepedia will help improve the quality of decision-making itself.”

Between March 23 and June 29, 2007, a total of 106 individual edits occured on the wiki. That is an average of about 1.1 edits per day during this 99 day period.

4. Campaigns Wikia

Back in January, I had already noticed a slow-down in activity at Campaigns Wikia. According to their mission statement, “it’s time for politics to become more intelligent, and for democracy to really involve the people. Broadcast media tells you what to think and doesn’t let you get involved. It’s time to focus on what you need, what you care about, and the messages you want to get out.” And: “This website, Campaigns Wikia, has the goal of bringing together people from diverse political perspectives who may not share much else, but who share the idea that they would rather see democratic politics be about engaging with the serious ideas of intelligent opponents, about activating and motivating ordinary people to get involved and really care about politics beyond the television soundbites.”

Between May 12 and June 29, 2007, a total of 447 individual edits occured. That’s an average of about 9.1 edits per day during this 49 day period.

I’m leaving the conclusions and evaluations for a later post, but the obvious question here is why neither of the four projects seems to be able to gain any significant traction.

Civic sensemaking

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Just sayin’.

C2D2 2007, November 12-14

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Another one I’d really like to go to:

Facing Complex Issues Together

We live in complex times and face complex issues. Balancing the demands of social needs, economic stability with environmental sustainability is just one example of our multifaceted challenges and responsibilities. Responding wisely requires constructive and innovative approaches. We need better ways of talking and working together.

Join us in Vancouver, for the second conference sponsored by the Canadian Community for Dialogue and Deliberation as we focus on the constructive role that dialogue and deliberation can play in meeting today’s challenges. Dialogue offers some constructive and hopeful ways to relate to one another while deliberation influences how we make decisions. D & D encompasses the tools we need to:

  • Create conditions for collaborative action on the global and local issues of our times
  • Facilitate better informed, balanced actions and decisions
  • Transform conflicted relationships and increase understanding
  • Encourage people to deepen their understanding, create shared meaning, look for common ground, encourage information-sharing, deepen their awareness of values and help set good direction
  • Develop collective insight and intelligence
  • Provide opportunities for stakeholder and public input to influence decisions affecting our future
  • Provide decision makers with the benefit of the understanding and insights of key stakeholders and the public
  • Encourage citizens to be actively involved in their communities

All sectors of human activity — public, private, business, community, non-profit, academia — benefit by learning to use processes that engage ideas and people more effectively.

We shall see how the year goes and if I get to go to Vacouver (which, by the way, has been on my list for quite some time now).

More info at the C2D2 website.

Greetings from Washington, DC

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

It’s been a busy week. I have a few more hours to spend in sunny Washington, DC before I head back to the Bay Area. Lots of interesting content to digest, and a long list of people to follow up with.

Both South By Southwest Interactive as well as the Politics Online Conference 2007 were worth going, and I’ll try to be back next year.

Using Twitter extensively at SXSW was a fun experiment. To me, it was yet another glimpse into the future when everybody’s location will be a known fact at any given time more or less and where it will seem perfectly normal to make use of that information for the purpose of social interaction.

Off to Malibu

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

I’ll be attending the Deliberative Democracy in California conference at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA tomorrow and Saturday. Leaving now for a rainy drive down 101.

The race to reach 1,000,000 supporters on Facebook

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

RunObama.com: Talking ‘Bout An Obama Facebook Revolution

On January 16, someone named Farouk Olu Aregbe created an Obama Facebook Group with the (admittedly) audacious goal of reaching one million members. The group, entitled “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)” even had a timeline for reaching one million:

A million members would easily it largest Facebook group period (I believe). And it would dwarf, no swamp, any other single political group out there. For example, The Democratic Party’s Facebook group has only 4,480 members, the College Democrats clock in at 3,374.

But of course, 10,000, which was reached on January 20th, is a long way from 1,000,000.

Yesterday, when I blogged about the group on RunObama.com, I noticed it had grown from 66,599 to 66,730 in a matter of minutes as I was writing about it. Which means the group added 56,730 members in just 5 days, which opened my eyes.

But nothing compared to today, when I logged in at around 3:30pm to find that the group had grown to 90,094 members.

As of right now, the group has 127,774 members.

Via Personal Democracy Forum: One Million Strong for Barack?

Clinton on Yahoo! Answers

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

The San Jose Mercury News ran this story yesterday: Sen. Clinton adds new twist to Web campaigns

Sen. Hillary Clinton signaled that hers would be an Internet-savvy presidential campaign by announcing her candidacy with a video posted on her Web site and e-mails to supporters. Throughout the week, she has been hosting live video chats. And on Thursday, Clinton held her first townhall meeting in cyberspace.

Clinton, a New York Democrat, used the Yahoo Answers service to ask voters: “Based on your own family’s experience, what do you think we should do to improve health care in America?”

By 5 p.m., Clinton had gotten more than 33,000 answers, making her question the second-most popular in the history of Yahoo Answers. Clinton is trumped by Oprah, who received 37,000 answers to the question: “If you were given $1,000 to change the life of a perfect stranger, what would you do?”

You can see her question her (currently at 36,033 answers and counting): Based on your own family’s experience, what do you think we should do to improve health care in America?

A random glance at some of the top-ranked answers she’s received so far suggests that people are actually responding, making suggestings, sharing their stories.

I think this tells you a number of things:

  • It’s not simply about blogs (or bloggers, for that matter — inviting a few bloggers into your campaign ain’t gonna win you the Presidency).
  • It’s too early to tell who among the candidates really gets it.
  • Looks like at least someone in the Clinton campaign has a clue (who knew?).
  • Health care will be a big issue in ‘08 (some say it will be the issue).

PoliticsBlog agrees: On the Web, Clinton Leads the Pack

And CBS News has this: Meet Hillary 2.0

Clinton entered the presidential race by posting a Web video. And to run its Web operation, her campaign scooped up at least four political bloggers, including Peter Daou, who worked on Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and blogs for Salon and the Huffington Post.

“Internet and technology has become an integral part of politics, and it is a great way for Sen. Clinton to have a conversation with people,” Daou, the campaign’s Internet director, told CBSNews.com. “It is a wonderful democratic medium that allows people to connect with each other and with the campaign.”

The Hillary for President blog is still getting up and running, pending the end of a contest to “write the very first guest post.” According to Daou, thousands of submissions have been received.

Nobody can know for sure how serious Clinton really is about conversation, but according to Wikipedia during her 1999/2000 US Senate campaign she did just that (emphasis mine):

While Clinton had a solid base of support in New York City, candidates and observers expected the race to be decided in upstate New York where 45 percent of the state’s voters live. During the campaign, Clinton vowed to improve the economic picture in upstate New York, promising that her plan would deliver 200,000 New York jobs over six years. Her plan included specific tax credits with the purpose of rewarding job creation and encouraging business investment, especially in the high-tech sector. She called for targeted personal tax cuts for college tuition and long-term care. Clinton began her campaign by visiting every county in the state, in a “listening tour” of small-group settings. During the race, she spent considerable time in traditionally Republican upstate regions.

Listening. What can I say…

Via Blog the Campaign in 08: Hillary Clinton Asks, Yahoo Answers: It’s Healthcare, Stupid

Campaigns Wikia: Six months in, progress slowing?

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

I noticed in my previous post that the Campaigns Wikia does not seem to be very active at the moment (see their recent changes).

They’ve only seen 500 edits in January so far, coming from anywhere between 30 and 50 contributors (including spammers), and of those, only a handful seem to be carrying the bulkload of the work.

There’s currently a total of 686 article pages in the entire wiki.

Hilary Clinton: “I’m in” — Enters race for 2008 White House with call for “national conversation”

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

Read the announcement on her website (emphasis mine):

I’m in. And I’m in to win.

Today I am announcing that I will form an exploratory committee to run for president.

And I want you to join me not just for the campaign but for a conversation about the future of our country — about the bold but practical changes we need to overcome six years of Bush administration failures.

I am going to take this conversation directly to the people of America, and I’m starting by inviting all of you to join me in a series of web chats over the next few days.

The stakes will be high when America chooses a new president in 2008.

As a senator, I will spend two years doing everything in my power to limit the damage George W. Bush can do. But only a new president will be able to undo Bush’s mistakes and restore our hope and optimism.

Only a new president can renew the promise of America — the idea that if you work hard you can count on the health care, education, and retirement security that you need to raise your family. These are the basic values of America that are under attack from this administration every day.

And only a new president can regain America’s position as a respected leader in the world.

I believe that change is coming November 4, 2008. And I am forming my exploratory committee because I believe that together we can bring the leadership that this country needs. I’m going to start this campaign with a national conversation about how we can work to get our country back on track.

This is a big election with some very big questions. How do we bring the war in Iraq to the right end? How can we make sure every American has access to adequate health care? How will we ensure our children inherit a clean environment and energy independence? How can we reduce the deficits that threaten Social Security and Medicare?

No matter where you live, no matter what your political views, I want you to be a part of this important conversation right at the start. So to begin, I’m going to spend the next several days answering your questions in a series of live video web discussions. Starting Monday, January 22, at 7 p.m. EST for three nights in a row, I’ll sit down to answer your questions about how we can work together for a better future. And you can participate live at my website. Sign up to join the conversation here.

[...]

I need you to be a part of this campaign, and I hope you’ll start by joining me in this national conversation.

As we campaign to win the White House, we will make history and remake our future. We can only break barriers if we dare to confront them, and if we have the determined and committed support of others.

This campaign is our moment, our chance to stand up for the principles and values that we cherish; to bring new ideas, energy, and leadership to a uniquely challenging time. It’s our chance to say “we can” and “we will.”

Let’s go to work. America’s future is calling us.

Conversation is almost always a good thing. The question is, do we have the right tools in place yet that will enable us to really scale to the national level? Is social media ready to take on this challenge?

While Clinton’s blog is not up and running yet, she’s adding a nice twist to it by crowdsourcing the first entry (emphasis mine):

Soon we’ll launch the official blog of HillaryClinton.com, a crucial part of our exciting national conversation about the direction of our country and the place to go to learn more about Hillary.

We know our readers are going to have a lot to say, so we want to give you the first word.

We’re looking for your ideas on how we can work together for change. If you’d like to write the very first guest post on the HillaryClinton.com blog, submit your entry in the form below. And if you already have your own blog or other website, please post your entry there and let us know about it. We’ll select one entry as the first guest post on our blog.

Here’s my transcript of her video announcement (again, emphasis mine):

I announced today that I’m forming a presidential exploratory committee. I’m not just starting a campaign, though, I’m beginning a conversation — with you, with America.

Because we all need to be part of the discussion if we’re all going to be part of the solution. And all of us have to be part of the solution.

Let’s talk about how to bring the right end to the war in Iraq and to restore respect for America around the world. How to make us energy-independent and free of foreign oil. How to end the deficits that threaten social security and medicare. And let’s definitely talk about how every American can have quality, affordable healthcare.

You know, after six years of George Bush, it is time to renew the promise of America. Our basic bargain that no matter who you are of where you live, if you work hard and play by the rules you can build a good life for yourself and your family.

I grew up in a middle-class family in the middle of America and we believed in that promise. I still do. I’ve spent my entire life trying to make good on it. Whether it was fighting for women’s basic rights or children’s basic healthcare, protecting our social security or protecting our soldiers. It’s a kind of basic bargain, and we’ve got to keep up our end.

So let’s talk, let’s chat. Let’s start a dialogue about your ideas and mine. Because the conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don’t you think? And we can all see how well that works.

And while I can’t visit everyone’s living room, I can try. And with a little help from modern technology I’ll be holding live online video chats this week starting Monday.

So let the conversation begin! I have a feeling it’s going to be very interesting.

It will be interesting indeed to watch just how the Clinton campaign (as well as the other contenders) will use the web for rolling out and managing that conversation and what listening skills they will show.

Because dialogue is all about listening.

Via Blog the Campaign in 08: Hillary is in….and with a blog writing competition!

Wikileaks

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Another large-scale wiki project:

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.

We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. Many governments would benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people. We believe this scrutiny requires information. Historically that information has been costly - in terms of human life and human rights. Wikileaks will facilitate safety in the ethical leaking movement.

Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide. Wikileaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability. They will be able to interpret documents and explain their relevance to the public. If a document comes from the Chinese government, the entire Chinese dissident community can freely scrutinize and discuss it; if a document arrives from Iran, the entire Farsi community can analyze it and put it in context.

Who is behind Wikileaks?

Wikileaks was founded by Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

Our advisory board, which is still forming, includes representatives from expatriate Russian and Tibetan refugee communities, reporters, a former US intelligence analyst and cryptographers.

There are currently 22 people directly involved in the project and counting.

Via SmartMobs: Freedom of Information, the Wiki Way