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Online Dialogue & Deliberation

Written by NCDD director Sandy Heierbacher to expand upon the text on our “What Are Dialogue & Deliberation?” page.

Online formats for dialogue and deliberation have improved dramatically in the last few years. Although much of what is called “online dialogue” these days is still little more than a series of anonymous posts in a forum or blog, some groups who have made much progress in creating online spaces for effective dialogue and deliberation — oftentimes, as a complement to face-to-face approaches.

Here are a few of the pioneering programs we’ve been watching…

dropping knowledge – www.droppingknowledge.org

dropping knowledge is a global initiative to turn apathy into activity. By hosting an open conversation on the most pressing issues of our times, we will foster a worldwide exchange of viewpoints, ideas and people-powered solutions. However knowledge is defined, by dropping it freely to others, we all gain wisdom. An international project based in Germany and the USA, dropping knowledge arose from a need for new thinking on how to make positive change in the world, and from an understanding of how questions, values, new technology and visual communication can be powerful catalysts for that change.

E-Democracy.Org / Minnesota E-Democracy – www.e-democracy.org

Minnesota E-Democracy is a non-partisan citizen-based organization whose mission is to improve participation in democracy in Minnesota through the use of information networks and communication technologies. Minnesota E-Democracy was established in 1994 and created the world’s first election-oriented website. They sponsor election-year online partnerships to promote citizen access to election information and interaction. Their year-round focus is on the use of the Internet to improve citizen participation and real world governance through online discussions and information and knowledge exchange.

OpenSpace Online – www.openspace-online.com

Change Facilitator Gabriela Ender and her team from Germany developed the internet real-time methodology OpenSpace-Online, which promotes autonomous, responsible, respectful, and results-oriented collaboration. Available in German and English, the Internet Conference method features successive phases in which 5 to 75 people can work simultaneously. The participants work together in a goal and solution-oriented manner for 2 to about 8 hours.

Soliya’s Connect Program – www.soliya.net

Utilizing new web-based videoconferencing technology, small groups of university students from the US and predominantly Muslim Countries in the Middle East meet weekly on-line with the help of skilled facilitators. Together they engage in intensive dialogue about the relationship between the U.S. and the Arab and Muslim World, with a particular emphasis on the role of the media in shaping perceptions of the “other.”

TruthMapping.com – http://truthmapping.com

TruthMapping.com is a free online tool that provides a focused, rational method for adversarial discussion that overcomes the limitations of standard message boards, e-mail and even conversation; it is a site for persons who believe that reasoning should be at the heart of public debate. The goal of TruthMapping.com is simply to elevate the level of public discourse.

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