Archive for the 'E-democracy' Category

Dropping Knowledge

Monday, September 4th, 2006

dropping knowledge is an initiative in the wider area of online dialogue and deliberation. From the FAQ and the overview:

dropping knowledge is a web-based platform for the exchange of multiple viewpoints, open to every citizen of the world. dropping knowledge is committed to heightening social awareness, challenging habitual ways of thinking and acting, fostering a global dialogue and inspiring real-world initiatives.

On September 9, 2006, 112 scientists, social entrepreneurs, philosophers, writers, artists and activists from around the world will come together in Berlin, Germany, as guests of dropping knowledge. They will individually answer 100 pre-selected questions from the vast pool submitted to our website by the global public.

On September 10, 2006, dropping knowledge will launch a freely accessible Copyleft knowledge portal and dialogue forum, seeded with audiovisual content from the first Table of Free Voices. Founded on a catalog of 23,000 interconnected problem classes, the platform will empower the global public to ask and answer questions, exchange viewpoints and ideas, and join in dialog around the most comprehensive hierarchy of social topics ever compiled.

Navigating by natural language search and an intuitive visual browser, users will come together to ‘inhabit’ shared themes of concern, setting up camp around the topics that matter most to them. By igniting global discussion covering the most pressing questions of our time, dropping knowledge will foster new thoughts, reflections and sustainable solutions to inspire communities of action within the emerging global society.

A transparent initiative to support global knowledge-sharing, dropping knowledge is a way of asking and answering the questions that matter to you. When you question in order to understand, when you answer in order to share, you are dropping knowledge.

The project is the brainchild of Ralf Schmerberg (founder and CEO of Berlin-based Trigger Happy Productions, a full-service production company for commercials, documentation and feature film), Cindy Gantz and Jackie Wallace. The “Living Library” software is being developed by Professor Hans Uszkoreit of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence.

German insurance company Allianz Group is a partner to the project (the partnership was announced on February 15, 2006: Global dialog gets underway, see also the Founding Partner Agreement). They have more information on their dropping knowledge project microsite:

Dropping Knowledge Principles

INCLUSIVENESS dropping knowledge is an open public resource that seeks to include every citizen of the world, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or class.

SUSTAINABILITY dropping knowledge will convene future tables of free voices around the world, expand the reach and access of the living library and stimulate new initiatives and partnerships among individuals, NGOs and corporations.

COPYLEFT dropping knowledge abides by a CopyLeft principle of distribution. All content donated to or generated by dropping knowledge is freely available to all for all time.

PUBLIC OWNERSHIP dropping knowledge is an open-source platform with 100% stakeholder perspective. dropping knowledge cannot be owned by any organization, corporation or individual. It belongs to the people of the world.

TRANSPARENCY dropping knowledge commits to full transparency and disclosure, informing our community of donors, participants and users of the way it spends its donated resources.

At this point, Wikipedia only has a brief article on dropping knowledge (the German version is up for deletion even).

Some mentions on the web (mostly in German):

You can visit The Drop, the dropping knowledge weblog, to follow the project.

It will be interesting to watch how this works out. I only came across the site by accident last night and I am still trying to figure out what to make of it. Many questions come to mind, but I will leave those to another post.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts about dropping knowledge?

BarCamp at Stanford during BarCampEarth

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

I’ll be camping out (likely) at BarCamp Stanford, August 25-27. I’d like to follow up on some ideas that came out of NCDD with regard to online deliberation, and maybe continue work on this baby.

NCDD: An Open Evening of Great Conversation

Friday, August 4th, 2006

Susan Partnow hosted An Open Evening of Great Conversation. She gave a one-hour trainig session on how to become a Conversation Cafe host, a very simple approach to achieve deeper and more meaningful conversations. The instructions fit on small piece of paper, anyone can do it, and practically anywhere (in public, at work, at home etc.).

What followed was a 70-minute sample conversation with six to eight people per table. Though the main motive for attending was to learn about and apply this format, it was amazing to see how quickly the conversations (our topic: “Tell about a time in the democratic process when you used your voice and felt heard”) gained a level of quality and intimacy that seems quite rare in today’s world.

NCDD: Taking Dialogue & Deliberation to Scale

Friday, August 4th, 2006

NCDD was off to a good start yesterday with a pre-conference session on Taking Dialogue & Deliberation to Scale, by Ashley Boyd and Janet Fiero of AmeriaSpeaks.

Some of the topics that we covered:

  • AmericaSpeaks methodology
  • 7 key principles to large-scale townhall meetings
  • AmericaSpeaks’ Voices & Choices project in Northeastern Ohio
  • How to develop trust
  • How to sustain citizen engagement

I gained many valuable insights (and took many notes, which I hope to post later in a more digested version).

Summer reading

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Ordered a bunch of books today that had accumulated on my Amazon wishlist over the past few months:

  • Defensive Design for the Web: How to improve error messages, help, forms, and other crisis points (Voices That Matter) — 37signals
  • A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series) — Christopher Alexander
  • The Deliberative Democracy Handbook: Strategies for Effective Civic Engagement in the Twenty-First Century — John Gastil
  • Cultivating Communities of Practice — Etienne Wenger
  • Visualizing Argumentation: Software Tools for Collaborative and Educational Sense-Making (Computer Supported Cooperative Work) — Paul Arthur Kirschner
  • The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter — Juanita Brown
  • Hollywood Haven: Homes and Haunts of the European Emigres and Exiles in Los Angeles (Studies in Austrian Literature, Culture, and Thought Translation Series) — Cornelius Schnauber

Web Monday Cologne follow-up: Citizen Think Tank

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

I’ve posted the slides to my presentation at Web Monday Cologne: Citizen Think Tank (HTML). A little more background information can be found on the Web Monday wiki: Citizen Think Tank.

For anyone who was not present at Monday’s meeting, please note that these are little more than idea fragments and should be viewed as such. I hope to work out some of the concepts in more detail over the coming weeks.

That said, feel free to contact me if you are working on similar projects or want to give feedback. I will be happy to hear from you.

2006 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

I’ll be attending the 2006 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation in San Francisco, August 3-6.

Goals for the 2006 NCDD Conference

Build community & foster renewal among dialogue & deliberation practitioners, scholars, & activists.
NCDD conferences are designed to unite and strengthen the dialogue & deliberation community by providing a space for renewal, reflection and connection. Our primary goal is to provide opportunities for conference participants to engage with one another about their work, their struggles, their innovations and their vision, so they may leave the conference with new, collaborative relationships and a renewed sense of inspiration.

Provide opportunities for individual and collective learning and skill-building
It is our hope that the 2006 NCDD conference will empower conference participants to employ dialogue and deliberation models & practices more effectively, and to equip them with tools to share these skills with others. We intend to create a space where collective knowledge can be built about the power and challenges of applying D&D to foster participatory democracy, conflict resolution, learning and collective action.

Address key issues facing the field
Although we are a young community of practice, we face some common challenges that can only be addressed if we work together. We aim to make the most of our time together by addressing some of the issues that hinder our potential as a field, a movement and/or a community of practice. Issues such as the accessibility of dialogue & deliberation—whether some of our own practices & beliefs are preventing us from being inclusive, accessible and effective—and issues such as the need to demonstrate & evaluate the impact of our work so that when it’s not up to us, we may be given the chance to make a difference.

Chris will run a one-day BrainJam. He writes about it here: NCDD Pre Conference Planning Report.

I will attend the pre-conference session on Taking Dialogue & Deliberation to Scale, hosted by AmericaSpeaks, which I first learned about in 2000 at the National Civic League’s 106th National Conference on Governance in Washington D.C. titled “Wired for Civic Engagement: Using New Technology to Build Community” (press release still available on

I look forward to hearing what Todd has to say about Community Engagement and Online Deliberation (scroll down) where he’ll probably talk about Deme. Hopefully, other attendees of last year’s ODDC face-to-face meeting in Minneapolis will attend as well.

The conference workshops look interesting. My goal is to learn as much as possible about ways to “bubble up the good stuff” in large-scale citizen engagement environments. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of food for thought, which I plan to apply towards Startupgermany, a citizen think tank (at least that’s one of the longer-term ideas) about the future made in Germany (not much there to see yet besides the blog).

NetSquared Conference 2006, May 30-31

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

I will be at the NetSquared Conference 2006, May 30-31 in San Jose, CA.

About Net2

Our mission is to help non-profit organizations understand, use and expand the social web.There’s a whole new generation of online tools available – tools that make it easier than ever before to collaborate, share information and mobilize support. These tools include blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, podcasting, and more. Some people describe them as “Web 2.0″; we call them the social web, because their power comes from the relationships they enable.

The list of confirmed presenters looks nice, and so does the conference schedule and the conference attendee list.

Listening to the City

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

Steven Clift highlights a case study of Listening to the City, a large-group deliberation project.

More e-democracy case studies on the DoWire wiki.

Electofix receives PoliticsOnline HotSite award

Saturday, August 20th, 2005

Electofix (a little personal project of mine) was just named HotSite of the week by PoliticsOnline last week. Whee!