Online Deliberation: Design, Research & Practice

Online deliberation is objective of any online policy discussion forum. More often that not, it is the shining light at the end of a very long tunnel. There to motivate us, as practitioners, to keep trying – as opposed to a reality that is often closer to hostile debate.

This excellent collection of academic articles came in today via the ever reliable Tiago Peixoto’s Participatory Budgeting Facebook Group.

One of the editors, Todd Davies, introduces the collection of papers thus:

The present decade has seen a blossoming of software tools, research projects, and everyday practice that can loosely be characterized under the heading of ‘online deliberation’. A community has formed around this concept, and has met in international conferences, workshops, and special interest group sessions. The present volume, which grew out of the Second Conference on Online Deliberation in 2005, is an edited collection of research, experience, and insights that I, along with Beth Noveck (who helped select the papers) and Seeta Gangadharan (the coeditor of this volume), felt should be preserved and organized as a record of that conference and as a snapshot of the field during its early years. The chapters of this book do not include all of the work that has come to define the field, but several of the prominent early advocates of ‘online deliberation’ are represented here, along with a few of their critics.

As you would expect, the book (which as a compendium of 30 papers runs to some 350 pages) includes papers on a wide range of subjects from exploratory research about online civic engagement, through the notion of online dialogue, consultation, deliberation and facilitation. It concludes with a whole section about the design of online Deliberation Tools.

I have no doubt that this will one day be looked upon as a foundational text for this budding philosophy/paradigm/industry. Definitely worth a read – if selectively.

Photo credit: Book Worm by Craig Sunter (Thanx a Million !)

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