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COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET  June 2004, Week 3

COMMUNET June 2004, Week 3

Subject:

Building Effective Online Public Space in Your Community - Request for Comments

From:

Steven Clift <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 17 Jun 2004 10:13:47 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (67 lines)

When E-Democracy.Org launched in 1994 during the Free-Net era (and had
our web/gopher site on the Twin Cities Free-Net) I sensed tension around
our approach that pragmatically accepted online political conflict
versus more community-building oriented "community networking" efforts
around North America.  Rather than trying to use this medium to build
consensus or advocate, we focused on building an open communication
space in the middle of "real" politics.  Sort of a from the center to
the sides, rather than an "alternative" media approach.  We did things
like require people to sign posts with their real names and limited them
to two posts a day on our e-mail discussion lists. We also gathered
people based on geography not narrow special issue interests. Not only
do we encourage a civil exchange of ideas, we help people see their
priorities in competition with others in the community.

After a decade of continuously improving our governance and facilitation
model, we are getting ready to help active citizens who would like to
build online public "Issue Forums"
<http://e-democracy.org/do/commons.html> in the their community.

A key outcome in our model is building connections and respect among
citizens with different opinions and backgrounds - e-listening if you
will.  With critical mass participation (we require at least 100
participants to open a forum) in a local area, a forum can then play an
agenda-setting role in the community.  New public opinion can be created
and influence political leaders. New story ideas can make their way into
the mass media and the media can be held accountable for their
reporting.

With a new forum in Chicago <http://e-democracy.org/chicago> and our
desire to help other communities experience the power of an effective,
ongoing many-to-many open space in their community (weblogs are nice,
but for the most part they represent the one-to-few "speakers corner"
model), we are updating our forum rules and our technology. We are
taking a local up approach, similar to clubs like the Lions, Kiwanis,
Rotary, etc.

Check out the draft rules and offer your comments:

   http://www.e-democracy.org/center/draftrules.html

If you like what you see, let us know
<http://www.e-democracy.org/comments.html> if you'd like the join a
future forum/chapter training program to start something in your
community.  If you think our rules could be improved or take the wrong
approach, please offer your comments.  We sincerely want to create a
constitution of sorts for effective and sustained civic discourse
online.


Steven Clift
Board Chair, E-Democracy.Org

P.S. If you are interesting in helping E-Democracy select an open source
content management system that will support a module for equitable and
full participation via e-mail and the web along with RSS feeds and
personalized forums tracking, please check out
<http://www.e-democracy.org/center/eweb.html> and drop us a note
<http://www.e-democracy.org/comments.html> to join our Technology
Committee.



Steven Clift - http://publicus.net - Reply to: [log in to unmask]
Join DoWire: http://e-democracy.org/do
Speaking requests: http://publicus.net/speaker.html
Watch my BBC World interview: http://publicus.net/media.html

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