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NCDD-DISCUSSION  January 2010, Week 2

NCDD-DISCUSSION January 2010, Week 2

Subject:

Re: Public engagement and crowdsourcing

From:

Brian Sullivan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Brian Sullivan <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 12 Jan 2010 11:36:33 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (35 lines)

Hi Tim and all,

Everybody has made some great points and pointed to interesting blog posts.

Crowdsourcing is about aggregating public input. As pointed out by others it has huge pitfalls for governance including lack of inclusiveness, inability to address trade-offs, and the fact that it is easily manipulated by activists. Aggregation, including crowdsourcing, doesn't create wisdom, but it can certainly expose new ideas and hint at their relative importance.

But ideas are only a small part of the equation in solving community problems, ie governance. Community problem solving must strive toward being a collaborative and creative effort open to all stakeholders. Collaboration differs from aggregation in that collaboration inevitably involves compromise which is best achieved through reflective dialogue (ie deliberation).

Deliberation is primarily concerned with understanding and addressing the differences and interactions between differing actors and ideas. Aggregative systems aren't attuned to these forces. Aggregation and crowdsourcing can identify objectively better or even correct answers - wikipedia evolves toward factually correct entries while actively removing opinionated entries. What crowdsourcing can't do is identify the best subjective answer for a group. The best subjective answer can only arise from reflective dialogue among stakeholders. The best subjective answer evolves from the interplay of various ideas and values, perhaps ideas and values that arise from crowdsourcing.

I believe online deliberation systems can play a useful role in the overall process of governance by allowing more stakeholders to engage with each other in creative and reflective collaboration that can identify, develop, and refine best answers for the group and pass these on to their elected representatives who will eventually feel compelled to give it the respect it deserves. The goal is to influence public policy, not to make it in detail - analogous to the way our representatives debate the intent and mechanisms of legislation but have experts write the actual statutes to implement the desired policy. Online deliberation can provide very high quality inputs to the process of our governance.

Of the many challenges we face in trying to champion (online) deliberation, the greatest may be the conflation of truth, politics, government and governance into a zero sum war with winners and losers. There is no accepted truth about many hot button issues in our society such as abortion, climate change, gay rights, taxation, public welfare, and gun control. For each of these issues there are facts, competing facts, and values. Too many of us believe in the truth of our facts and our values and can't fathom the idea of compromising them–never mind learning how to do it through deliberation. Yet creative, collaborative community problem solving based on deliberation is the only way we can constructively address these issues and achieve the necessary compromises that allow us to move forward with common cause.

We need to open our eyes and recognize (and respect!) ourselves as co-creators and stewards of our joint governance.

I believe that effective opportunities to engage in online community problem solving and deliberation (starting small and local) can not only generate very useful inputs for our governance, but perhaps more importantly, these experiences can start to undo this poisonous conflation which allows politics to diminish our communities, our country, and our world.



--

Brian Sullivan
Practical Evolution, LLC
San Francisco, CA USA
[log in to unmask]
415.305.3651

Sponsor of CivicEvolution
http://civicevolution.org

---

NCDD's discussion and announcement lists are generously provided by L-Soft ( www.lsoft.com ) and are powered by L-Soft's LISTSERV mailing list management software ( www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html ).  Learn more about NCDD's email lists in the community section of the NCDD website ( www.thataway.org/community/lists/ ).  Please read this mailing list's rules ( www.thataway.org/community/listrules ) before you post.

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