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Issues Forums

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Sites like Technorati allow searching of 'World Live Web', E-Democracy Forums Today page ... Open forums are rare on government websites ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Issues Forums


1
Issues Forums
  • By Steven Clift, E-Democracy.Org

2
Agenda
  • Introduction
  • British Expedition
  • How Issues Forums Work
  • Participant Interviews
  • UK Pilots and Products
  • Analysis
  • UK Panel and Discussion
  • GroupServer Demonstration
  • Whats Next for Issues Forums in the UK?

3
DQ
4
(No Transcript)
5
(No Transcript)
6
Doug Grow, Most read newspaper columnist
  • Quotes, Council member Carol Johnson
  • They've got public officials twisted around
    their little fingers."

7
The British Expedition
8
UK ODPM/E-democracy Project Visit
  • July 2004 visit by ODPM and UK Local E-democracy
    National Project Visit
  • Met forum managers, and citizen volunteers
    involved with local forums in Minneapolis, St.
    Paul, and Winona
  • Gathered samples to plant back in the UK

Images from Northfield.org Visit
9
E-Democracy.Org History
  • Launched worlds first election-oriented web
    site in 1994
  • Included citizen-to-citizen MN-POLITICS e-mail
    discussion forum, people kept talking
  • Model localized with 1998 launch of Minneapolis
    Issues Forum
  • Volunteer-based, non-profit community
    organization

10
Why Issues Forums are Needed
  • Effective citizen engagement any time, anywhere
    agenda-setting
  • Share community knowledge of public leaders and
    active citizens with all civic learning
  • Openness and accountability accountability of
    citizens, the local media, and government

11
Why Issues Forum are Needed
  • Most non-partisan e-democracy efforts are
    government-based, need cost-effective complement
    to e-consultations
  • Most citizen efforts have a view point and
    advocate politically often anti-something
  • Many local forums are anonymous rough and tumble
    exchanges privately owned spaces, few offer
    e-mail options
  • Cost-effective starting point provides
    e-citizen foundation for additional activities
    like

12
How Issues Forums Work
13
How Issues Forums Work
Starting with private citizens moving toward
public e-citizens
Citizens
Extensive personal e-mail networks exist
friends, family, co-workers
14
How Issues Forums Work
Local E-Democracy group creates the public
space, defines charter (scope)
Citizens
Issues Forum GroupServer e-mails posts web view
15
How Issues Forums Work
Recruit citizens, councillors, media, etc. with
sticky opt-in
Citizens
Issues Forum GroupServer e-mails posts web view
Subscribe once Commitment secured
16
How Issues Forums Work
  • Participants agree to rules
  • Sign real name
  • Post no more than twice a day
  • Stay within scope of charter
  • Understand that with two warnings they can be
    suspended for two weeks, three warnings six
    months, etc..
  • Forum is facilitated, NOT pre-moderated, those
    posting content are 100 responsible for what
    they post

17
How Issues Forums Work
Position forum in center of real power
Mayor
Researcher
Citizen 1
Student
Reporter
Citizen 2
Citizens
Issues Forum GroupServer e-mails posts web view
Candidate
Post via e-mail/web
Political Activist
Citizen 500
City Council
e-publish, many-to-many
Crazy Person
Neighborhood Leader
Forum Manager
18
How Forums Rock and Roll
Agenda-setting discussions, e-mail leaks,
facilitation and rule enforcement key
Mayor
Researcher
Citizen 1
Student
Reporter
Online discussions in the heart of local power
Citizen 2
Citizens
Issues Forum GroupServer e-mails posts web view
Candidate
Subscribe once Commitment secured Post via
e-mail/web
Political Activist
Citizen 500
City Council
Crazy Person
Neighborhood Leader
Forum Manager
19
Dori from St. Paul
  • Active citizens and average citizens raise
    their voices
  • Ten minute GSE (Gopher State Ethanol) video at
  • http//e-democracy.org/experience
  • Dori Ullman raises her voice about the stench

20
Jamal from Minneapolis
  • Large Somali community in Minneapolis
  • Their voice was missing despite outreach
  • Bus strike provided motivation and real world
    reason to join and post to forum

21
Mayor Rybak from Minneapolis
  • In 2001, RT Rybak announced mayoral candidacy on
    forum before press conference
  • Continues to post monthly
  • Video clips
  • The Seven O'clock Meeting
  • Budget Issues - Informing
  • Lets Ski - Gathering Ideas
  • Two-way Wont Kill You

22
(No Transcript)
23
Squirrel Story
  • From Southwest Journal newspaper
  • by Martiga Lohn
  • Most days, mpls-issues is a substantive
    discussion of important public policy issues
  • However here are a few excerpts from this
    burning issue
  • gtGo to hardware storebuy trapset trackkill
    squirrel. End of public policy question.
  • gtGrab a trap and KILL the squirrel????????? Why
    must we destroy a living thing as a solution?
  • gtRocky and his friends are out of control. If
    you want
  • evidence, try to eat a sandwich on a bench in
    Loring Park.
  • gtQuit telling people to move their nasty attack
    squirrels to wooded areas (i.e., Minneapolis
    parks) we already have our fair share.
  • gtI ran on an anti-squirrel platform for Student
    Legislature at Syracuse University in my freshman
    year in college. I promised to eradicate the
    nuisance squirrel population. It was my first
    election loss.

24
UK Issues Forums
25
UK Issues Forums
  • Call for interest Brighton Hove, Newham
    emerge
  • Guidebook produced
  • Steering committees
  • Charter and rules
  • Forum managers
  • Recruitment
  • Launch and facilitation
  • GroupServer used, released open source
  • Case study, evaluation, multimedia, etc.

26
Brighton Hove Today
27
Newham Today
28
Analysis
29
Creating Public in Private e-Life
  • Online Civic Communication Model 1994-98

Issues Forum serves as public group communication
organizer, multiplier, and amplifier leaks
back into private communication
Group communication remains highly private via
e-mail without public spaces
vs.
E-mailForum
30
One-way versus Forum Dynamic
  • Online Civic Communication Model 1998

One-way content, semi-public online advocacy
expands
Forum diffusion, viable two-way options tied to
online advocacy and one-way content
vs.
IssuesForum
31
Blogofest Destiny?
  • Blogs democratize media, provide accountability
  • Compared to forums, most are highly
    individualistic often privately controlled spaces
    with some dialogue
  • Need own blog to join the e-ristocracy
  • As a whole, blogging, RSS, and aggregation of
    whats now is fundamentally underappreciated

32
Value from Blogging
  • Headline syndication
  • Blogs can share headlines and display current
    content from other sources
  • XML-based GroupServer provides RSS headlines for
    Issues Forums
  • Aggregation
  • Sites like Technorati allow searching of World
    Live Web, E-Democracy Forums Today page
  • Aggregation strategy both display of local
    feeds, like future local government or media
    headlines required
  • Other standards
  • Pinging, Trackback, Permalink options etc. need
    to be explored to position forums as ultimate
    many-to-many multi-editor blog

33
Forum Hosts - Media
  • Media
  • Promotional ability for its own forums (about 40
    online news sites in U.S. have them) is strength
  • Normally promote or allow pseudo-anonymity and
    remove highly offensive posts
  • Elected officials, much less, government
    officials rarely post
  • Reporter use Issues Forums for story ideas and
    access to sources rarely use their own forums
    (you dont quote a letter to the editor)
  • Media, could be important outreach partners IF
    forums not viewed as competitive effort

34
Example Media Forum
  • A different kind of exchange
  • Satire on media hosted forums about lamp posts
    causing poor community behaviour ends with
  • Brighton Councillors are EVIL. They EAT BABIES
    and do other NASTY THINGS. They are the most
    EVIL people ever. All the nasty people of
    History Hitler, Stalin, Jack the Ripper, Graham
    Norton are NICE compare to the EVIL
    councillors, who are all WICKED.
  • Despite satire, name calling is against
    E-Democracy rules.

35
Forum Hosts - Government
  • Open forums are rare on government websites
  • Citizens often expect service when clearly paid
    for by tax dollars
  • Issues of responsiveness censorship, control,
    liability
  • Fujisawa, Japan innovation one column with
    government selected topics and another for
    citizen driven discussions
  • UK Local Authorities encouraged to host forums
    with E-Democracy.Org using citizen steering
    committee as essential management buffer
  • Key complement to e-consultations, e-panels
    chicken Issues Forums as egg
  • Issues Forum approach may be adapted by anyone
    our goals is citizen participation in local
    democracy

36
The big picture someday?
Communities of Practice for Policy
Implementation Public Net-Work
or Neighbourhood community forums
Etc.
37
Forum Hosts - Others
  • Individuals, community associations, small
    businesses, etc.
  • E-Democracy.Org/UK should organise and link to
    similar many-to-many non-partisan/multi-issue and
    perspective local forums
  • Need to respect different models, but web forums
    often lack e-mail access and many are virtual
    ghost towns
  • Over the long-term, an open question is Can we
    craft E-Democracy.Org forums as public parks or
    townhalls owned by the community or are they
    niche debate clubs of sorts

38
How to Start One
39
How to Start One
  • Watch Experience
  • http//e-democracy.org/experience
  • Read Guidebook
  • http//e-democracy.org/uk
  • Join Liftoff
  • http//forums.e-democracy.org
  • Contact E-Democracy.Org UK
  • Volunteer-based model that requires at least 4
    citizens on your local steering committee

40
How to Start One
  • Recruitment phase essential if local
    authorities fund start-up, this would be a key
    area to dedicate resources
  • Forum manager volunteer role crucial avoid
    professionalizing core Issues Forum efforts to
    keep model low low cost
  • Add-on special events and consultations may
    require funding with stipends or compensation
  • E-Democracy.Org hosts shared GroupServer
    platform, building Rotary Club like Chapter
    model, with perhaps 1 out of 10 participants
    sought as 25 GBP/year members for mostly local
    costs

41
Conclusion
42
Conclusion
  • This model is about your local democracy it
    must be authentically local.
  • Together we can build a global model for local
    democracy in the information age.
  • Everything
  • http//e-democracy.org/uk

43
UK Panel and Discussion
44
Panelists
  • Richard Stubbs, Newham
  • Mark Walker, Brighton Hove

45
GroupServer Demonstration
46
GroupServer
  • Open Source Tool Value beyond E-Democracy.Org
  • Details and Web Movie
  • http//e-democracy.org/groupserver
  • Download and Official Home in NZ
  • http//groupserver.org
  • Building user base and development community

47
Whats Next
48
Whats Next Discussion Starters
  • What should be done to strengthen existing
    forums?
  • What other communities are interested in forums?

49
Whats Next Discussion Starters
  • Is there interest and support for expanding
    outreach and start-up assistance across the UK?
  • What GroupServer features/tools do we need to
    assist recruitment, management, and expansion?

50
Extra Slides
51
Strategic posting by councillors, etc.
  • Lessons Id like to get across to them
  • This is real, not obscure e-mail leaks
  • Rumors from offline world more easily squelched
    online where you can see them
  • The media is watching (sometimes they feel
    scooped by citizens)
  • Early and transparent engagement is often
    necessary to avoid public backlash, on the forum
    which can cause an exponential community backlash

52
Strategic posting by councillors, etc.
  • Lessons from those in power who get it
  • Monitor
  • OK to actively reply privately
  • Post publicly when strategic, let people know
    you are there
  • Ride the wave and avoid tit-for-tat debating
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