Dissecting the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement

As part of The Independent’s visual mapping of the election and its aftermath, we have broken down the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement into an interactive visual graph that lets you comment on and rate each of the proposals.

By surfacing their shared agenda for the next Parliament explicitly in this way, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats  have given the electorate an unusually swift and detailed opportunity to give feedback on the proposals they have drawn together in our name.

Both parties have also indicated the desire to open public policy deliberation to wider public input online during the coming parliament; so it’s a timely opportunity as well to consider to what degree—under the intense pressure they faced and in a closed rather than an open process—the party negotiating teams were able to find an agreement close to a mutual optimum.

As well as rating and commenting, you can use the interactive graph to add arguments for and against the Coalition proposals and to suggest alternative ideas that might have been missed.

So, in the new spirit of collaboration, what do you make of the agreement?

CNN, Amanpour and Debategraph

As you may have spotted already, the collaboration between Amanpour and Debategraph launched on CNN last night, with Christiane’s new live global program featuring interviews with the Secretary General of Nato and the Prime Minister of Spain.

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.

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“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:

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Collaborative Democracy in the White House

If you have been following the White House’s groundbreaking Open Government Initiative over the past few weeks, you’ll be aware already that Debategraph has been mapping the proposals emerging from the Open Government Brainstorming sessions on Participation, Transparency and Collaboration.

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The Open Government Initiative moved into the third, and most significant, Drafting phase today—and we’re delighted to note that the White House’s Open Government team has entrusted this vital phase to our favourite wiki team at MixedInk (who, if you haven’t discovered them yet, offer a truly innovative and powerful approach to the task of collaborative writing, which is ready to be applied in multiple contexts).

The initial Open Government Brainstorming and Discussion phases have been stimulating and generative, but the real collaborative work, the real collaborative responsibility, and the real collaborative opportunity lie in the next phase of synthesis.

So get writing!

…and, to help you on your way, here’s the combined Debategraph of the redacted proposals from the three brainstorming sessions:

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Integrating Debategraph with SharePoint

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.

So a huge thank you today to Paul Culmsee and his colleagues at Seven Sigma Business Solutions for building and releasing the free Seven Sigma Debategraph WebPart for SharePoint – which lets you embed live debate maps into SharePoint sites and tune the display to fit enterprise SharePoint portals.

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Paul, who has written a brilliant series of posts on the value of issue mapping to SharePoint projects, explains the underlying motivation for the web part:

“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:

If you are SharePoint user and would like to experiment with the web part, you can download it here – where Paul also provides short video guides on installing and using the web part.

…and if you would like to learn more about the background to the web part and our collaboration with Seven Sigma, read Paul’s characteristically insightful and engaging blog post here.

 

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Crowdsourcing Public Services 2.0

In November 2009, the EU Ministerial declaration on eGovernment will be published at the Malmo conference.

Building on the Public Services 2.0 workshop in Brussels early this year, and at the initiative of David Osimo and Paul Johnston, we are teaming up other partners to crowdsource an Open Declaration on Public Services 2.0 to sit alongside November’s ministerial declaration.

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Echoing the Open Government initiatives currently underway at the White House, the process is beginning with an open brainstorming session to identify and evaluate a range of ways in which EU governments can harness the emerging power of the web to transform European public services.

We would love you to participate in this process by adding your suggestions and voting for others here before 15th July.

More details, including the plans for the second collaborative phase and the subsequent public endorsement are available here.

…and, in parallel with the formal process, I’ll be keeping an informal eye on the proposals as they develop via the debate map below:

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Mapping the Power of Information Taskforce Report

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As a follow up to the Public Services 2.0 workshop in Brussels last month, and in keeping with the collaborative ethos and intention of the event, Richard Stirling, one of the Cabinet Office secretaries to the Power of Information Taskforce, asked me to receate the Taskforce’s landmark report in Debategraph.

The initial map (shown in the Debategraph Explorer view above) foregrounds the report’s recommendations—although the full text of the report is also included in the expanded text of the relevant elements on the map (which you can view by clicking on the Green + button above).

Once in this format, anyone can comment on, support or oppose, and rate the individual recommendations—and also begin to increase the granularity of the analysis by, for example, breaking out the arguments presented in the report in support of the recommendations by the Taskforce.

This Explorer view of the report (above) can also be shared and embedded on blogs and other websites using the following code:

<iframe src=’http://debategraph.org/flash/fv.aspx?r=14255&d=2&i=1′ frameborder=’0′ width=’450′ height=’600′></iframe>

As ever feedback about the work-in-progress, either directly on the map, or in the comments below, will be very welcome—and, in the meantime, for a quick insight into the way that the ideas articulated in the Power of Information Taskforce’s report are percolating in the US, check out Ellen Miller’s Sunlight Foundation blog.

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Public Services 2.0

Thanks to David Osimo‘s pioneering energy and imagination (and the enabling support of FutureGov and Headshift), I was privileged to have the opportunity to outline some of the thinking behind Debategraph at the European Commission’s Public Services 2.0 workshop in Brussels last month.

As David described in the agenda for the workshop:

“Over the last 3 years, we have seen a dramatic rise in user driven, web 2.0 style initiatives in and around public sector service provision. Initiatives such as Patient Opinion, Farmsubsidy and Theyworkforyou all seek to challenge, disrupt and improve on traditional models of public service delivery from the outside, built on the web 2.0 principles of openness, transparency and sharing.

Against this background the workshop “aimed to bring together the best experiences from all over Europe” to: share experience and knowledge between the people running the web 2.0 initiatives; promote a surge of collaborative initiatives; and raise awareness and better understanding between government officials about why and how to promote web 2.0 in government.

The workshop was a great success across all these dimensions, and the slides and videos for all of the presentations are worth exploring in depth.

On a personal note, one of the joys of the event was the chance it afforded to meet people whose work I have long admired from a distance including James Munro, Lee Bryant, Anna Maybank, Dominic Campbell, Justin Kerr-Stevens, Emma Mulqueeny, Richard Stirling, Ivo Gormley – whose highly recommended film Us Now features Debategraph briefly and tantalisingly on screen at a key moment – and Søren Duus Østergaard.

In the aftermath of the workshop it has been delightful to see the same sense experimental adventure bubbling up elsewhere, and in the European context, the next collaborative step, emerging as spontaneous initiative from the workshop, is to imbue the European Commission’s imminent consultation on the i2020 strategy with more of the same spirit.

Of which more later.

Dissecting the G-20 Communiqué

So what are we to make of the G20 Communiqué?

As part of The Independent’s visual mapping of the London Summit, we have broken down the G20 communiqué into an interactive visual graph, that lets you comment on and rate each of the major points.

…and we want to know what you think about the measures proposed.

So, start exploring the interactive graph below—by clicking on the spheres—and log-in to tell us if you’re feeling quantitatively eased or squeezed.

And why?


Debategraph in the Classroom

When Peter and I first set out to create Debategraph, one of our fondest hopes was that the tool might help to enrich the collaborative and visual learning experience for students in schools and universities.

So it has been a joy for us this semester to be experimenting with Debategraph in classroom with Dr Sharon Chanley and her politics students at Western Illinois University—and we are tremendously grateful to Sharon and the students for having the curiosity and courage to innovate in this way.

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 Dr Sharon Chanley and the students of POLS 275

Sharon’s class is exploring issues of poverty and wealth inequality in the U.S. and the historical and existing public policy responses to these, and Sharon explained to us what initially captured her imagination about Debategraph:

When I first came upon the DebateGraph in my search for policy-mapping examples, I felt as if someone had designed it specifically for my approach to teaching — almost as if they had observed my discussion-based classes and then depicted them graphically. In teaching policy issues and the political processes involved, I want students to understand their complexity and the interrelatedness of the issues. DebateGraph allows me to do that in a way that two-dimensional images and discussion alone can’t. Students develop their ability to research their positions, find answers to the compelling questions, and enhance their critical thinking skills while providing me a way to comment on and complete individual assessment of their work — all important to their learning in and beyond the classroom. And, they can do it in a format that fits into their familiarity with the computer, the Internet, and their preference for the visual and importantly in a way that connects them with the rest of the world.”

During the first phase of the course Sharon and the WIU students—Brandon, Colisha, Derek, James, Jan, Jared, John, Julio, Kimberly, Patrick, Robert, and Ruth—are using Debategraph to build an informal collaborative overview of the policy domain. You can see their work in progress below—and in the next phase of the course the emphasis will shift more to deepening the map and developing a more formal structure for the material.

We have been delighted with the enthusiastic feedback from the students so far, who have taken to this new approach to learning in fine style:

I like the DebateGraph as a learning tool because it teaches us how to do in-depth research. It also allows us to open up class discussions, which allows us to hear other people’s points of view.

The DebateGraph is an excellent learning tool which helps students learn through critical thinking. I really enjoy the exercise.

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I think the DebateGraph is an outstanding learning tool. It forces the student to look in-depth at a particular subject. It makes people come up with questions to see if the particular problem can be resolved.

In general, I like the graphics display as a study tool. The generation tends to like information that is bite-sized, easily accessible, and fast paced, so the point and click nature makes it very easy to find information and explore related topics which may have been otherwise overlooked.

DebateGraph is not only a great tool, but it has allowed me to gain new knowledge. It is also a great tool for students to learn about policy issues, and it is also a great tool to use.

The DebateGraph is a really cool way to debate topics so that there is a structure and much more information can be transferred.

The students’ feedback is all more gratifying given that 40% of their overall course grade is being assessed on their individual and collaborative contributions to the map. And Sharon has been employing the RSS feed, email alerts, and edit history to support her grading process—and the map Message Board to ask, and answer, student questions outside class hours.

From our perspective it has been a wonderful start, and an experience from which Peter and I are learning much too about the ways in which Debategraph can be used in the classroom; a learning experience for which we would like to give Sharon and her pioneering students a wholehearted Anglo-Australian vote of thanks.