Archive for the 'Online deliberation' Category

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.

Personal Democracy Forum 2007: I have an extra ticket an I'm giving it away for free!

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Update: Registration is now closed. The happy winner will be notified shortly.

Well, almost for free. Read on.

Some background:

I’ve been working on a little side project in the area of online dialogue and deliberation over the past few months. Nothing much to show yet, but we’re slowly making progress. I can brief you if you’re interested.

In March, I attended the Politics Online Conference 2007 in Washington D.C., which was quite insightful. Based on a few recommendations from people I respect, I bought my ticket to the 4th Annual Personal Democracy Forum shortly afterwards. PDF will be held in New York City on May 18, and I was really looking forward to going as it looks like it will be an interesting event with lots of interesting people (plus, it’s New York so what more to ask).

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go. I have a wedding to attend that Saturday which also requires my involvement on Friday. And being that I’m in California there is no way I can make the trip (trust me, I checked).

Now, I don’t want to let my ticket go to waste. I checked with the organizers and it’s ok to transfer the ticket to someone else. It’s a USD 295 value (I paid USD 245 for early registration).

Here’s how you can pick it up.

You:

  • Are interested in politics and the internet, and how the two fit together.
  • May have a background in dialogue and deliberation (if you follow this organization you probably know what I’m talking about).
  • Can be a student (or anyone, really, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the conference).
  • You have your own blog and are comfortable using social media.

In return, here’s what I would like to ask of you:

  • In addition to the paid conference, you should make sure to participate in the PDF Unconference on Saturday, May 19 as well.
  • As much as possible and as much as your time during the day allows, you should document both events using whatever kind of social media you’re comfortable with (blogging, podcasting, video, Twitter — you name it).

There are no strings attached. I’m giving away the ticket for free and it’s up to you what you do with it. I won’t hold you accountable if you don’t blog etc. However, if you do I will link to you prominently.

If you’re interested, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly. If you know someone for whom you think this might be a good opportunity, please pass them on to me.

I hope this works out and I look forward to seeing next week’s reports from the conference.

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.

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

Sensemaking how-to

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Dan Russell over at Creating Passionate Users has a nice article (part two of a three-part series): Sensemaking 2: What I do to make sense

His personal process is as follows:

  • FIRST: Figure out what it is that you’re trying to understand or get done–let’s call this the domain. This is crucial because you can waste a lot of time doing various experiments or studies on the wrong thing. …
  • SECOND: Collect a lot of information about the domain. I like to read about how others think about the domain, what works and (just as importantly) what doesn’t work. Sometimes people will say how they think about the whole domain, and that’s often incredibly useful because they’ll have already organized things in a way that’s useful. …
  • THIRD: Organize the information. Depending on what the domain is, you might look for an organization that helps you see the entire structure of what’s known, or you might end up building a very detailed model. In almost every case, I spend a lot of time figuring out how to organize the information I have into some kind of representation. …
  • FOURTH: Iterate. Realize that you almost never get it right the first time. Sometimes I’ll get the original domain wrong, and I’ll be studying the wrong thing. Sometimes I’ll collect a lot of junk information that I have to winnow out. And sometimes I’ll just create representations of that information that don’t work out.
  • FIFTH: Do. As in, do whatever it was you wanted when you figured out what the domain was. Research of the kind I work on is always trying to figure out something so you can do the next thing.

I’d be interested in learning more about how sensemaking works, for individuals but also collaboratively among (large) groups, and if and how it can be done over the web. To what extent does divison of labor work here? Can sensemaking be split up into many small tasks so as to allow for more of a swarm approach?

A real-life example as well as third and final part of the series are scheduled to come out later this week.

Politicopia

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

From the Beehive State comes another wiki project that aims at bridging the gap between citizens and people in office:

Politicopia gives people a solid handle on the Utah Legislature. Users create summaries of bills, pro and con arguments, comments, links, and more. For example, check out these pages:

Payday Lending
Vouchers for Private School Tuition
In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens

Help Wanted. Anyone can edit or create a page. To discourage trolls and spammers, registration is required. This is an experiment in open democracy.

On the pro and con arguments, please stick to your side. If you don’t like the other side’s argument, rebut it on the other side of the ledger or tear it apart in the comments.

Be cool.

This is in some ways similar to Campaigns Wikia (which doesn’t seem to be very active at this point, as far as I can tell).

One challenge I see with a pure wiki approach in this context is the fact that in order for participants to contribute they must make edits. And while that is ok when collaboratively writing a document, it does not scale well when it comes to any type of polling or voting.

Secondly, the unstructured nature of the data makes filtering, aggregation, or visualization — in short, anything that helps with the consumption of large amounts of data — very difficult.

Via Personal Democracy Forum: The Revolution Will Be Wikified

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!

Connected Citizens — Enabling Common Ground

Friday, January 5th, 2007

The Canadian Community for Dialogue and Deliberation (C2D2) 2007 Conference has been scheduled for November 12-14, 2007 in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada).

Three potential main themes are currently being evaluated:

  • Citizenship: the character of an individual viewed as a member of a democratic society; behaviour in terms of the duties, obligations, and functions of a citizen.

[...]

  • Common ground: Some people say that an objective of dialogue and deliberation is to find common ground. In many cases, people with different perspectives can look beyond differences to see what they have in common. Common ground would be a great theme for the conference as this could be used to support many different concepts, such as:
    1. Bringing the community together on common ground for the conference;
    2. D&D approaches to finding common ground;
    3. Establishing common ground for the D&D community in Canada.

[...]

  • Interconnectivity: Interconnectivity is another idea being considered as a conference theme. The concept of being interconnected has many powerful interpretations and meanings. Many people are familiar with the concept of six degrees of separation. This is the idea that everyone on the earth is connected to everyone else through six people. This is a neat idea in showing that not only are people in the D&D community connected to each other, but we also use D&D to bring others together to increase understanding, address challenges, find solutions, etc.

I’m interested in all three, hence my suggestion for a combination: Connected Citizens — Enabling Common Ground

In order to help them better prepare the conference, you are invited to complete their online workbook and suggest your own topics or themes.

Via NCDD: C2D2 News - Online Survey & 2007 Conference

Phil Nobel on online politics in Europe

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Nicole just did a nice pre-conference interview with Phil Noble, founder of Politics Online. He has some pretty interesting things to say about citizens, politics, and the internet in Europe and elsewhere:

Nicole: When you look at Europe (and from your experience), what is most astonishing to you that politicians don’t do because it would be so easy to do today. What would you give as advice to somebody who wants to use the internet today?

Phil: Well, it’s really not too surprising to me that the politicians haven’t adopted the internet as aggressively as they could have. What has surprised me is that there hasn’t been more independent citizen organizations, more independent online organizations.

And again, I think that goes back to the political culture and tradition. In this country, politics is very entrepreneurial in the sense that if I decide I wanna run for governor of South Carolina I walked out my front door, call five reporters and say “I’m running for governor of South Carolina.” And if I can raise enough money and run an effective campaign, I win! And I don’t even have to — you know, other than paying my $5,000 to put my name on the ballot — I don’t even have to talk to the Democratic party establishment. And so we are very entrepreneurial.

And France and Europe in general you’re much more bureaucratic, your party structure is much more rigid. And what surprises me is that there’re not more online organizations and structures and campaigns created by individuals totally outside of that party structure. That’s what surprises me most about Europe.

Nicole: Loïc said he could imagine that for the next European election there might actually be a party of bloggers or internet-savvy people who could run as a party and try to change things. And the more I look at how Europe is structured or the European government is structured, I actually believe there could be a chance for it.

For the moment, I think most people don’t really see European government as something which is important (the national elections are much more important than that). But more and more, Europe is taking over, you have government decisions from Europe which have to be transported into national law and everything.

So it would actually be a good idea to have somebody running as independent and writing in English about what’s happening in the European Union itself to get more information, to get more unbiased information as well. But so far, I don’t see that coming.

Phil: I think that’s right. I used to do some work for the party of European Socialists in the European Parliament back in the late ’90s. And it has been something that has surprised me as to why some of the European parties have not moved aggressively to use the internet to really reach out to individual citizens.

And again, I think it goes back to the European tradition. The party of European Socialists or the EPP, or whatever, all these things, they are a creation of national parties. And so, you know, they are most concerned about being responsive to and trying to be directed by the parties — but not the individuals, not individual citizens.

And so I think that’s what’s really missing is that we haven’t had in Europe political organizations that have been interested in bypassing their party structures and empowering and linking and creating a real citizen movement. And I think it could happen. I think it’s more likely to happen on the extremes, you know, some of the, um, on the far right or the far left — I think they are more likely to use it effectively in the short term.

Although I must admit, for example, David Cameron in the UK: I’m very impressed with what he’s trying to do online. You know, I think in Germany, what Angela Merkel… I think she shows that she has some understanding of it, you know. And I think obviously the most intersting one right now is Ségolène Royal. I mean, what is she gonna do with it? I think she has the potential to be a real breakthrough in Europe because she has used her blog and internet in a way that nobody else has. And I think she may be the first real online European politician.

Citizen-centric politics? Citzen-centric parties, even? Smart use of online tools? Empowering citizens? Sounds like a recipe for success for whomever wants to get in (or stay in) the game.

I’ve been on the Politics Online newsletter for almost a decade now (Electofix, one little project of mine, even scored a mention as HotSite of the week last August). If things work out as planned, I hope to get to go to Washington D.C. next March for the Politics Online Conference 2007 (Upcoming).