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Update from the Online Dialogue and Deliberation Infrastructure (ODDI) Working Group


This post is from Mark Frischmuth of DemocracyLab.org, who has been leading a group of NCDDers with expertise in online engagement to develop a proposal for the Catalyst Awards. If you’re interested in getting involved in this project now or down the road, add a comment to this blog post, with your name, organization, email and what role you might see yourself playing in this project.

Dear NCDD Community:

At the NCDD Conference in Seattle, a number of like minded D&D practitioners and social entrepreneurs got together to discuss the largely untapped potential of online dialogue and deliberation.  This project is the result of those discussions.  If this project is of interest to you, you can join the 40+ members of our working group here: http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/oddi.

What follows below is an excerpt from the draft of our final proposal submission for the Catalyst Awards.

Open Source Infrastructure for Online Dialogue and Deliberation

Online Engagement is in its infancy. While the tools of today are astounding compared to what existed a decade ago, the quest to use the collective intelligence of humanity to solve community problems remains unfulfilled.

We propose to lay the foundation for a suite of open-source online resources that will make the best practices of the Dialogue and Deliberation Community scalable in a way that has never before been possible, resulting in wiser real-world decisions.

Technology has created an opportunity to engage anyone with an internet connection in deliberative processes about issues that matter to them.  Our project will create an extensible library of online tools that will grow and evolve over time, scaling best practices and providing fertile ground for experimentation with new methods. Over time this will magnify the benefits of dialogue and deliberation, strengthen our communities, and improve the quality of our lives.

Project Plan Details

There are numerous online tools that allow people to connect over the internet, from Facebook and Twitter, to homegrown startups experimenting with innovative methods of engaging communities. Right now, all of these efforts are in competition.  Over time, the marketplace should sort out winners and losers, and effective tools should emerge.

But is that the best way forward?

We propose cooperatively charting a more deliberative path.  There is a wealth of accumulated knowledge in the D&D community, most of which hasn’t yet translated to the online space. Our project will allow the D&D community to collectively design and build online infrastructure that facilitates the development of a suite of applications that adapt the best practices of in-person dialogue and deliberation to the virtual world.

To read more, please view (and comment!) on our draft proposal here: http://tinyurl.com/aqw7avv

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. My experience is more with face-to-face collaboration, rather than online collaboration. But I wish you well with this! And when it comes to online facilitation, Nancy White is my all-time fave… I hope you have her on your team! all best wishes…

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