Then tag the post TheIndyDebate. When you do this, we’ll detect the post and start to include your thoughts in the map.
Embedding the map will let your readers watch the map evolve in situ on your blog. And, if you link to or embed the map, we’ll publish a reciprocal link (both here and on the Independent Minds blog) back to your blog.
Over the next 10 weeks, Independent readers and the Debategraph team will develop a series of interrelated debate maps of the key policy and political questions facing Obama as he prepares for office.
Whether it’s tackling the global financial crisis, deciding who to appoint to key cabinet posts, or determining how to proceed on climate change, Iraq or the crisis in the Congo, you are welcome to join us in building comprehensive maps of the political choices open to Obama, the arguments for and against the different options, and the path you think Obama should follow.
You can watch the maps evolve in the build up to the inauguration, or better still register and begin to comment, suggest new issues, rate the options and arguments, and add new options and arguments of your own.
ESSENCE is the world’s first global climate collective intelligence event—designed to bring together scientists, industrialists, campaigners and policy makers, and the emerging set of web-based sensemaking tools, to pool and deepen our understanding of the issues and options facing the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.
The event, starts online in January 2009 and culminates with the UN Climate Change Conference at the end of this year.
During the pre-launch phase, we are beginning to identify and assemble teams of scientists, industrialists, campaigners and policy makers to work with the tool developers on specific aspects of the complex set of issues around climate change.
The aim is to develop a comprehensive, distilled, visual map of the issues, evidence, arguments and options facing the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, that will be available for all to explore and enrich across the web.
The project is founded on principles of openness, transparency, and discovery; with no preconceptions about the conclusions that will emerge from the event.
If you are scientist, industrialist, campaigner, policy maker, tool maker—or someone with other ideas and resources to contribute—and are interested in learning more about and participating in ESSENCE, please get in touch.
The granular addressability is shown at the paragraph level in this example; however, CommentPress—which is being applied imaginatively to several publicconsultations in the UK—allows the user to define a deeper level of granularity, enabling a finer one-to-one correspondence between the source document and the map.
The hope embodied in this experiment is that in the build up to the Presidential election in November it might be possible exemplify the potential of the emerging web technologies to shift the modus of political debate (a degree or two) away from the calculated cacophony of ephemeral soundbites toward a more considered, constructive and cumulative conversation.
If you are willing to help in the pursuit of this goal—working on the transcripts, mapping and tying together the arguments, highlighting inconsistencies and areas of agreement, and holding the candidates transparently accountable to their words—please join us.
I love the simplicity of the CommentOnThis and CommentPress approach, which is clearly motivated by similar urge to transparency and read/write participation as Debategraph.
The document-centric approach of CommentOnThis / CommentPress also makes it comparatively simple to enable public participation once the initial time, energy and resources has been expended on creating the original consultation documents.
Debategraph takes a more radical, subject-oriented approach to the same challenge, which if followed to its logical conclusion could (we think) significantly reduce the overall time spent by the consulting body and its stakeholders on the consultation process.
Instead of creating a long consultation document at the outset, the consultation team could start building a public debate map of the consultation issues, and invite the stakeholders to join them in this process—decomposing the subject matter into the individual issue, positions, arguments, evidence and scenarios, and allowing the stakeholders as well as the consultation team to edit, rate, challenge or support the individual arguments.
As each element on the map is also its own wiki-page it’s easy to layer in longer commentaries (up to 50,000 words), images, tables, and charts etc as the map builds towards maturity. And as the core, hierarchical structure of the map is similar to the hierarchical outline of a standard report, it’s relatively straightforward at the end of the consultation period to automatically generate the basis of a final report directly from map—with the a key difference being that everyone’s contributions are already represented in the report.
In this way, rather than having multiple people create multiple documents that redundantly repeat many of the same arguments (each of which has to be written and read multiple times), everyone can focus collaboratively and directly on the issues at hand and ensure that all pertinent considerations and all voices are represented fairly on the map. Visualising and exploring the issues and arguments in this way also enhances transparency and trust in the consultation process and helps to ensure that every issues is surfaced and addressed comprehensively.
As well as potentially reducing the cycle time of the consultation process, the debate map could save further time and resources when the next consultation round on the topic begins; as many of the relevant arguments will already be in place on the map and will not need to be recreated from scratch. Indeed, once created, the debate map can be updated over time by the different stakeholders as new arguments, evidence and scenarios emerge; providing a continuously evolving view of the subject; so that when the next formal consultation process begins the majority of the thinking and work involved may have been accomplished on the map already.
“Barack Obama has promised to tear down the stone wall and dense bushes with which the current administration has barricaded the White House. Good. Democracy without transparency is at best assumed.
And, Obama has promised to take advantage of our new connective technology — the Internets and all its associated tubeware — to enable a level of citizen participation undreamed of since our population outgrew the local town hall.
So, how about if the campaign starts now by opening up the vice presidential selection process?”
…so here’s a debate map featuring some of the mooted VP candidates and the arguments for and against their candidacy. Anyone can add new candidates and new arguments. Anyone can rate the candidates and the arguments for and against. And anyone can embed this (automatically updating) map of the debate on their blog; so that changes made anywhere will be displayed everywhere.
It was a fascinating day, exploring the Information Society Directorate’s long-term research agenda in this field, against a background, outlined by David BrosterHead of Unit for eGovernment and CIP Operations, of the movement of web 2.0 tools from the social and professional domain into the political and policy domains (see slide below).
“Only connect… Live in fragments no longer.” E. M. Forster, Howards End (1910).
The lightweight, collaborative, multiway technologies emerging across the web, and the new patterns of social interaction associated with them, are about to transform the shape of government, our experience of government, and our participation in government. To misquote Clay Shirky: government that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.
But what kinds of government will emerge from this process?
A less Hierarchical Public Sector: Government 2.0 will have moved away from command and control, devolving much more decision-making to local units and frontline staff.
A Collaborative, Joined-up Public Sector: Government 2.0 will offer a more joined-up face to citizens and will use collaborative models and tools to break down silo barriers, maximise the use of precious resources and dramatically reduce process time cycles.
A Public Purpose Sector: The boundaries of Government 2.0 will be wider and more flexible, enabling creation of public value by a ‘public purpose’ sector which will be much broader and more diverse than the traditional public sector.
Empowered Citizens: Government 2.0 will enable citizens to do more for themselves, either individually or collectively, as co-producers of services and shapers of public policies.
A Feedback-driven Public Sector: Government 2.0 will be radically closer to citizens and will give multiple and real opportunities for feedback, and will ensure the feedback has a real impact in shaping its decisions.
Open and Transparent Government: Government 2.0 will be radically more open and transparent than current models in relation to policy making, service delivery, internal administration and accountability processes.
Facilitative Government: Government 2.0 will see government’s role shift much more towards creating context, orchestrating and facilitating, rather than controlling and delivering, public discourse and service delivery.
Obviously Tom’s closing observations about the importance of teaching of students how to think and engage in rational discourse strike a chord here. And our belief in the potential multiplier gains to society from helping children to develop their thinking skills explicitly rather than implicitly, has been one of our primary motivations in making Debategraph freely available to schools and colleges as an open education resource.
Viewed as a whole, though, what do you think of points Tom’s making? What are the other issues and voices in the debate?
I have embedded a rough starting point for the debate map below, using the arguments presented on Tom’s Not On the Test site, and would welcome input from teachers, students and educational policy specialists to help develop the map into a comprehensive overview of this vital debate.