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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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).
The ever inspiring mySociety launched its first campaign on Tuesday, with a characteristically simple, pragmatic and catalytic focus: to open up the legislative process to wider and more effective scrutiny by publishing Bills in a semantically marked-up form that can be automatically interpreted and used across the web in imaginative ways.
It’s a small, manageable change, with a potentially big pay back to public life. And it won immediate endorsement from David Cameron and Lynne Featherstone.
To celebrate David’s and Nigel’s millionth download, we thought that it might be fun to map one of the podcasts. So here’s my first rough take on Michael Sandel on Sport and Genetic Enhancement. Feel free to enhance any shortcomings on my part…
If you are interested in pursuing the arguments in more detail, Michael Sandel’s views on sport and genetic enhancement are set out in full in his book The Case Against Perfection and summarised in the Atlantic Monthly.
“We are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning. Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. These educators are creating a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. They are also planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go.
This emerging open education movement combines the established tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow educators and the collaborative, interactive culture of the Internet. It is built on the belief that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint. Educators, learners and others who share this belief are gathering together as part of a worldwide effort to make education both more accessible and more effective.”
With historic forms of education in kaleidoscopic flux, it’s a remarkable and inspiring time to be alive. And, as the range and depth of the Creative Commons licensed debate maps mature, Debategraph is committed to making a novel and substantive contribution to this revolutionary movement.