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As was also the case with Steve Snow's first post on influencing elected
officials,
the suggestions that he makes here about gaining consensus in a meeting
corresponds to my own experience.
 
Having moderated online discussions for more than a year now, I am
skeptical that they by themselves could easily duplicate this process.
Certainly, everyone would have to be focused on the same issue.
There would have to be an agreed on process to determine consent: like,
posting a draft of something and then giving people two or three days
to object, make changes, then reposting it until no one objects. I've not
seen this done, but I could imagine its working on this basis.
 
What does work quite well, however, is the use of online exchanges
to reinforce "live" meetings. A first meeting may lay out a proposal,
but online communication permits people to continue to discuss
it. Then when people reassemble, the major issues are sorted out.
Drafts can be circulated online prior to meetings, enabling people
to come better prepared. Using online processes to strengthen
this sort of process can be a great resource, even if everything
can't be worked out online.
 
Ed Schwartz
 
 
 
 
 
>
>        First, you set out the issue(s) for discussion.
>
>        Then you promote discussion by providing some
>                provocative questions about the issue.
>
>        Then you try to keep track of the threads of
>                discussion and debate and gently reel
>                back in the wandering threads.
>
>        Then at some point, pre-determined, perhaps, you
>                summarize the opinions expressed, and
>                suggest places of overlap or consolidation.
>
>        Then you restate the revised list and seek
>                concensus/agreement.
>
>As I jot these things down, it seems to me this would be hard to do
>with more than just a couple of topics at a time. that is sometimes
>a difficulty with COMMUNET; so many threads, so little time! Of course,
>there are mail filters for some that help manage the traffic, and you can
>easily zap stuff you know you're not interested in.
>
>Another difficulty is this: what if you ask a question and no one
>answers? Hmmm. Does silence mean assent? Does it mean the issue bores
>people or they just don't have a strong opinion?
>
>There must be seasoned meeting-runners online here who can speak to the
>complications of achieving things online. From personal experience,
>though I can say that we in Charlotte always get a lot of response to
>contests -- so perhaps we could frame issues in the context of a contest! :-)
>
>Steve Snow
>[log in to unmask]
>
>
Ed Schwartz, Institute for the Study of Civic Values, 1218 Chestnut St.,
Rm. 702, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107 215-238-1434 [log in to unmask]
 
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