“The post-2015 development agenda debate is generating a lot of words on what should follow the popular Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) come 2015, which is the point at which they were supposed to have been met. There are hundreds of international meetings going on, as well as global and national consultations, plenty of think-tank reports, op-eds and news coverage.
But for someone who’s interested in the discussion – and how decisions are being taken – it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on. So, inspired by an earlier effort by Jan Goossenaerts, I’ve started a new graph of the debate. It tries to bring disparate strands of the debate together in one place.
This is just a start. There is a vast amount of information missing. I’ve mainly based it so far on stories from my twitter timeline – there are many more voices out there, particularly in developing countries.
I have so far only mentioned a few specific goal suggestions – those made in Save the Children’s recent report. There must be more to add. And although it does seem like there will be a new set of goals (perhaps up to 2030), there is still room for a debate as to whether goals are the right tactic for improving global outcomes, or whether there are other ways of approaching the agenda.
There is also much to be discussed in terms of delivery and accountability. If the world isn’t going to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, what’s to say any new goals will be met?
So join in. Anyone can edit the graph above. DebateGraph is a fantastic tool, which allows many layers of debate, critique and argumentation. Give it a go: sign up, navigate back to the post2015 map and start adding material, links, or refining what’s already there.”
William Gibson coined the term “cyberspace”, for his 1982 short story Burning Chrome to create a “a narrative engine, and a territory in which the narrative could take place”. Twenty years on, cyberspace is the world’s narrative engine: and an uncharted territory to which the world is still coming to terms.
Political, industrial, and civic leaders are gathering at the Foreign Office’s London Conference on Cyberspace next week to think through the implications, opportunities and contradictions of this emerging world.
The conference will explore key themes – prosperity; social good; freedom of access and expression; cyber crime and international security – with the aim of deepening mutual understanding and beginning to outline a political, social and economic strategy to secure the benefits of cyberspace while addressing the concomitant threats to personal and national security.
To start exploring the map – which we have seeded with the initial framework of the conference – click on the small bubbles to move deeper into the debate and on the larger bubbles to move back up.
You can gain an insight into the range and scope of the debate by watching the map evolve here, but you are welcome to add your voice to the debate online by adding new ideas and comments to the map and by rating the ideas, or by suggesting new ideas and questions via Twitter using the #LondonCyber hashtag and/or the Foreign Secretary’s Facebook channel (both of which we will be monitoring as well).
As discussed before, the whole structure of the map is like a wiki – every aspect is provisional, and open to further refinement – and everyone can add new issues, positions, arguments and evidence to the map.
The aim is to weave together all of the arguments into a rich, transparent, non-linear structure that anyone can explore and understand quickly.
As with the other maps in the The Independent series you can keep up to date with developments via @TheIndyDebate on Twitter, and you are welcome to embed the map (like a YouTube video) on your own site or blog using the code shown below:
If you missed lat night’s episode, it’s available via Podcast here.
Debategraph’s working with Amanpour’s production team and viewers to create debate maps around the interviews and global issues addressed in the programs – and to provide a forum for non-linear, interactive and cumulative debate to complement the program’s thought-provoking analysis and interviews with the global leaders confronting those issues.
Christiane’s aims for the program“to offer multiple perspectives… and serve as the hub for a global community of inquiring minds, hungry for a more daring perspective and a strong, clear, thoughtful take on international stories” emphasize the resonance between our mutual approaches and the reason why Peter and I are delighted to be collaborating with Amanpour’s New York based production team.
“I want this show to stir the global conscience. I have witnessed so much that it’s time to start making real sense of it all”
The program airs on Monday to Thursday at 2100 CET, with a round-up of the best of the week on Fridays on CNN International and Sundays on CNN in the United States – and tonight’s show features interviews with Tony Blair, Terje Roed-Larsen (UN Middle East Envoy), Dan Meridor (Israeli Intelligence Minister), and Saeb Erakat (Chief Palestinian Negotiator).
In conjunction with the launch of program, Peter and I have released a new interface for Debategraph (which will also feature in the forthcoming WAVE climate change project for the European Commission). More on both later — but for now here’s a quick video introduction to the new Debategraph Stream interface:
When you are developing a web application one of the most delightful compliments anyone can pay you is to start building on your work. And when the person building is an expert in multiple fields including your own, your joy is complete.
“SharePoint is a terrific product for aggregating disparate information into a single integrated view. However it is oriented around linear, “list based” information, such as calendars, tasks, documents and the like. Argument visualisation tools like Debategraph do an excellent job of exposing the deep structure of complex problems or issues in a manner that makes argumentation and decision rationale accessible.
The Seven Sigma Debategraph web part for SharePoint provides a means to surface Debategraph argumentation maps within SharePoint. Through the release of this web part, Seven Sigma hopes to increase use of argumentation mapping techniques as a means to facilitate cohesive and productive discussions on complex issues.”
To illustrate the potential, and working with fellow SharePoint gurus Andrew Jolly and Ruven Gotz, Paul has created the Debategraph below on SharePoint Governance – which is also the default starting map when you install the web part:
"However tough things looked in the past, I have never felt such a sense of despair about Palestine and Israel. Reason has been drowned in blood. It seems as though the politics of hope have given way to the politics of the cemetery. Poor Palestine. Poor Israel."
Independent readers and the Debategraph community have started to explore the options for peace in the Middle East over the last few weeks, and, though the map is still at an early stage of development, it already provides a succinct insight into the nature and scale of the challenge; showing how strong views at either end of the spectrum pull the peace proposals towards the gyre of despair.
One of the advantages of visual mapping in this context, though, at least at the outset, is that it’s not asking anyone to take sides: just asking everyone to pool their understanding to map the contours of the problem.
The visual mapping process also opens up the possibility of creative brainstorming and lateral suggestions, such as the proposal to relocate the UN headquarters to Jerusalem, illustrated below – and we would like to see more contributions of this kind as the map develops over the coming weeks.
Given the progress made with the map so far, and the work still ahead, we’re extending the first mapping phase through the spring, and, will be including other partners in the process as we seek to engage the main actors in the region.
Anyone who would like to join us in this process is welcome to do so, and, if you would like to involve your own blog or website readers in the debate, you can embed the map—like a YouTube video—using the embed code shown below:
In the meantime, I will be examining different areas of the map in detail on the blog over the coming weeks and will present the mapping community’s work-in-progress to a conflict resolution forum in Haifa later this year.
And so the kaleidoscope turns, and we see the world anew.
Or do we?
Barack Obama’s inaugurationtoday as the 44th President of the United States of America, marks the end of a remarkable personal and national journey. Arrival at such a destination is a cause for global celebration. But as with all great journeys the arrival is also only a beginning.
Obama is taking a leading role in a world system that is severely perturbed on multiple levels. Such perturbation often proceeds collapse: and can proceed the emergence of a more sophisticated and better-adapted system.
It’s not clear—it never is—to what extent the choice of branching paths is open to us. But it surely behoves us to act as if it is.
My (personal) sense is that we face a mess of complex, interrelated and non-linear problems; sane responses to which lie beyond our existing methods and tools. In essence, we need to re-configure our modes of political thinking and organization to enable us—as local, national, and international communities—to move significantly closer to collective maxima of intelligence (both reasoned and emotional).
For those for whom the analogy is familiar, we’re awaiting The Mother of All Demos in the political realm to match Doug Engelbart’s technological masterpiece 40 years ago (which pre-figured much of the technological landscape that we inhabit and take for granted today). It’s the social dimension of Engelbart’s vision of augmented collective intelligence that lags behind our technological achievements: and it needs to catch up quickly.
The signs are that Obama, and the team around him, are mindful of this. As othershave noted already, one of the most encouraging aspect of the Change.gov experiment was the speed at which the interaction on the site improved iteratively across the transition. The challenge now is how to crystallize this process—to enable genuine and deeply collaborative sensemaking—and how to set this process in motion in the first few months of the administration when the opportunity and receptivity to change are greatest—and when the character of the administration will be forged.
Readers of The Independent and others who have joined in developing the Obama and Gaza maps over the last couple of months have demonstrated on a smaller scale and in vitro that different and radically collaborative models of sensemaking are possible—and we are grateful to everyone who has participated directly so far, blogged about and embedded the maps, and to the BBC World Service’s Digital Planet, BBC Technology and PRI’s The World: Technology podcast for their support in spreading the maps more widely.
Both maps will continue to develop as exploratory exemplars of the kinds of cumulative, comprehensive and distillative sensemaking processes that the web is starting to enable—with the Obama map, in particular, shifting to a focus on the first 100 days.
Deeper challenges remain. The emerging set of collaborative sensemaking and deliberation tools of which Debategraph, is one example, are still nascent, still figuring out the basic principles—still more VisiCalc than Excel. The tools require a basic visual literacy that itself is only just beginning to emerge in society. And the maps, and other sensemaking constructs, require time to build and time for reflection in an impatient and attention-poor age.
But, today, of all days, is a day for optimism. The day on which Barack Obama embodies the realization that long journeys towards distant mountain tops can reach the summit.
The Gaza map (above)—which will require significant iteration and community input from a wide range of voices to reach maturity—is motivated by two medium-term objectives:
(1)to present the different worldviews that underpin the conflict fairly and succinctly on a common map.
(2)to map creatively and constructively the options open to the participants in the conflict and the international community, and the arguments for and against the different options.
This is an emotive subject, and the map is at an early stage of development; so if you see statements with which you disagree strongly or spot gaps in the arguments, please help us to address these on the map.
After logging-in, anyone can add new issues, positions and arguments, edit and restructure the map, and evaluate the different arguments; so the whole structure evolves as new perspectives are added to the map.
Hence, every aspect of the map at this stage should be regarded as mutable and provisional—with the aim being to enrich the structure iteratively and collaboratively until the map reflects a maximum of community intelligence.
As Jimmy observed in his blog on the Huffington Post, mastery of internet campaigning is not the same as delivering government via the web. So it has been fascinating the observe the first edemocratic steps on Obama’s Change.gov site.
The Change.gov process so far has included blogging, YouTube insights and feedback (example below), threaded commenting, and the admirable step of opening up the content on the site via a Creative Commons license—and the volume and variety of the feedback on the discussions around health care (3,701 comments) and the economy (3,563 and counting) illustrate the potential and the challenges involved in processes of this kind.
Sustaining this openness to iterative experimentation will be one of the keys to fulfilling the transition team’s early promise beyond the inauguration. In part, this is because the capabilities of the web are evolving rapidly. YouTube and Twitter, for example, two of the most significant on-line tools used during the campaign, didn’t exist at the time of the last Presidential inauguration (and Twitter was only formally incorporated after Obama declared that he was running for office).
But, more fundamentally, it is because this openness to iterative and collaborative experimentation and improvement is one of the web’s deep lessons and, potentially, contains the means to transform our understanding and experience of governance.
Doc Searls refers to this wider emerging process as the "Live Web", and so, in his honour, we might characterise the opportunity ahead for the Obama transition team as being the chance to the effect significant shift towards "Live Government".
More smart people outside government than within it
For the first time in modern industrial society, governments have the chance to realise the potential embodied in Bill Joy’s observation that there will always be more smart people outside government than within it…
And, in view of the scale and complexity of the challenges faced in the early 21st century, there has never been a more urgent time to realise this latent, distributed potential.
Live Government will take many forms that we can’t see clearly yet; however, two dimensions that seem central to the concept based on current trends are:
(1) Making the data of governance fluid, transparent, mashable and easily discoverable in context; getting the data in front of the people who have a contribution to make, and ensuring that the data is continuously up to date. This trend can be seen in the US in the form the Sunlight Foundation and the recent Apps for Democracy competition—both of which owe something to the pioneering work of the MySociety team in the UK.
(2) Externalising the current policy thinking of government in a open structured form to which people can contribute continuously, directly, precisely, cumulatively, and with a high signal-to-noise ratio. This trend, still comparatively nascent, can be seen in a prototypical form in policy wikis, annotation tools and sensemaking tools (of which Debategraph is an example).
"…we’re inviting the American public to take a seat at the table and engage in a dialogue about these important issues and ideas—at the same time members of our team review these documents themselves."
It will be fascinating to see if the Obama transition team can carry this energised enthusiasm into office.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the development of the map over the last week, and to the people below for helping the map meme to circulate in the blogosphere: