Context and Medium Matter: Expressing Disagreements Online and Face-to-Face in Political Deliberations

The 22-page case study, Context and Medium Matter: Expressing Disagreements Online and Face-to-Face in Political Deliberations (2015) by Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Lauren Bryant and Bruce Bimber was published in the Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 11: Iss. 1. This case study examines how participants’ behavior differs depending on the medium, when expressing disagreements about political topics.

From the Abstract

Processes of disagreement are important to public deliberation, but research has not examined the dynamics of disagreement in deliberation of political topics with respect to effects of the channel of interaction. This study analyzes the discussions generated via an experiment in which discussants were randomly assigned either to deliberate online via synchronous chat or face-to-face. The study compares the initiation of disagreement, its qualities, and how long it is sustained in the two environments. Discourse analysis suggests that in the online environment initial expressions of disagreement were less frequent, less bold, and were not sustained as compared with the face-to-face discussions. Reasons include the lack of coherence in synchronous chat, which may challenge interlocutors and prevent them from pursuing a disagreement over multiple turns. Implications of these findings for scholars and practitioners are discussed.

Download the case study from the Journal of Public Deliberation here.

About the Journal of Public Deliberation
Journal of Public DeliberationSpearheaded by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium in collaboration with the International Association of Public Participation, the principal objective of Journal of Public Deliberation (JPD) is to synthesize the research, opinion, projects, experiments and experiences of academics and practitioners in the emerging multi-disciplinary field and political movement called by some “deliberative democracy.” By doing this, we hope to help improve future research endeavors in this field and aid in the transformation of modern representative democracy into a more citizen friendly form.

Follow the Deliberative Democracy Consortium on Twitter: @delibdem

Follow the International Association of Public Participation [US] on Twitter: @IAP2USA

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Airesis – Open Source E-democracy Social Network

Airesis is a free, web-based, open source E-democracy platform, structured as a social network and designed to maximize the collective intelligence of group deliberation. It is the result of 5 years of development, testing and pilot experimentation, organized and done by an Italian Association – Tecnologie Democratiche, which included the collaboration of more than 50 people.

Airesis is the outcome of the fusion of two projects: Agorà 2.0 and DemocracyOnline, that came together in the association, Tecnologie Democratiche, with one of its main goals being the development of an innovative, open-source, e-democracy software. The goal of the team, made entirely of volunteers, is to give citizens and groups a software platform that allows them to cope with most of the problems of our society, by allowing the creation, discussion and voting on proposals in a transparent, democratic, constructive and participative way; allowing the collective intelligence to emerge.

From Airesis

Airesis is a free software platform, built by a team of Italian developers and contributors, to enable communities and groups to organize themselves in a productive manner according to the principles of direct democracy and participation.

To achieve this goal, the application has been designed as a multifunctional system, which integrates all the tools that can help the development of a community, in particular “social” and deliberative tools.

Among social tools, Airesis offers blogs and a system of promotion of events and meetings with adjoining scheduling. Among deliberative tools it includes areas for the collection and deliberation of proposals and initiatives, and a voting system aimed to the election of candidates. The platform also allows you to create groups with access regulations policies and customizable permissions. Since the goal of Airesis is to stimulate participation, great attention has been spent in order to maximize the intuitiveness of the whole platform. The development philosophy is focused on continuous improvement, a kind of evolutionary process based on users feedback. The development team is available to meet the needs of the communities which want to use the software according to the spirit of direct democracy.

TecnologieDemocraticheMore about Tecnologie Democratiche
In the political arena and by the citizen, the Internet is increasingly perceived as potential instrument for the democratic participation; however, few and undeveloped are the web platforms conceived to help parties and political movement to involve citizens in the preparation of programs and policy proposals. The association “Tecnologie Democratiche” (“Democratic Technologies” ndr.) was created to satisfy this need, providing an enhanced tool to exploit the “collective intelligence”, the skills and experiences of citizens, their creativity, their critical spirit, while ensuring at the same time democratic values in the various stages of the elaboration of a policy proposal. Follow Technologie Democratiche on Twitter: @TDemocratiche

Learn more about the Airesis team here. Follow Airesis on Twitter: @democracyo

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This resource was submitted by Jacopo Tolja, the Internationalisation Team Leader at Associazione Tecnologie Democratiche via the Add-a-Resource form.

Common Ground for Action

Common Ground for Action is an online platform for deliberation sponsored by the Kettering Foundation starting in 2013, who partnered with Conteneo, a creator of serious decision-making games, to co-develop the forum. Kettering and Conteneo collaborated from scratch to create a unique online forum that engaged participants and produced an authentic deliberation space, which was then tested through the National Issues Forums (NIF) network.

NIFI_Common GroundFrom NIFI…

Common Ground for Action forums are the online version of traditional in-person National Issues Forums. Common Ground for Action is a simple but sophisticated platform that runs in any browser—no technical mumbo jumbo!

In CGA, small groups are able to learn more about the tensions in an issue, examine options for dealing with the problem, weigh tradeoffs, and find common ground just like in in-person National Issues Forums, but with visuals that let you actually see the shape of your conversation as it evolves.

From Kettering…

The online forum has five basic areas:

1. Lobby: Participants get introduced to the platform, other participants, moderator
2. Forum Home: Participants get introduced to the issue, other participants’ personal stakes
3. Baseline: Participants register a personal baseline with regard to the actions
4. Examination of Options: for each option, participants do:
* a personal sense-making and evaluation of the actions and tradeoffs within an option
* then discuss the option similarly to an in-person forum
5. Common Ground Reflection: Participants reflect upon common ground from across the options and see the difference their deliberation has made.

Check out this short video about how to participate in Common Ground for Action here.

More about Kettering Foundation
The Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation. Follow on Twitter: @KetteringFdn.

More about the National Issues Forums Institute
The institute’s central activity is to publish and distribute an ongoing series of Issue Guides and videos that prepare you for thoughtful discussion of many of today’s thorniest problems. Moderators and conveners find our resources indispensable in organizing, leading and advertising their forums for public deliberation. We also provide guidelines for those who wish to frame their own issues. To keep the network and policymakers current, we publish reports about forum lesson plans, activities, and outcomes so groups can learn from one another. Follow on Twitter: @NIForums.

More about Conteneo
Our team of scientists, academics and practitioners use the science of serious games to unlock  engagement for our clients. Rooted in a range of disciplines (from cognitive science and evolutionary psychology to game theory), our proprietary software and services enable leading organizations to quickly and easily adapt to market and operational changes–on any scale. Follow on Twitter: @ConteneoInc

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Codigital’s cloud-based tool is used by facilitators and conference organizers to engage communities and stakeholders in a simple, participant-driven process that generates ideas, insight, consensus and solutions to the issue under discussion. The tool is used in live face-to-face situations and also in 1-2 week online projects such as gaining input from attendees when planning a conference.

codigital_logoCodigital’s tool incorporates features that (i) enable people to cross-fertilize their ideas so as to benefit from the different perspectives of the group’s members, (ii) avoid individual bias, (iii) establish the collective view of the group, and (iv) generate a concise summary of the top ideas and themes in real time.

Codigital’s tool works with groups from 10+ to many thousands. This scalability, coupled with the tool’s concise pdf report generation, makes it an effective solution when seeking creative input from entire communities or large groups at conferences.

Codigital’s clients include state governments, municipalities, large and small corporations, and individual consultants such as facilitators and conference organizers.

Codigital offers educational and non-profit discounts, and entry-level price plans that make Codigital affordable for single projects or events. Codigital’s plans include consulting and training around when to use its tool and best practice, and also includes full project administration (self-serve is also available).

Codigital’s tool was originally developed to help break down the silos prevalent in many corporate environments, and thereby to enable more and better balanced input to be gathered in order to improve decision-making. The tool combines evolutionary principles and algorithms, and gamification, in a way that establishes the collective intelligence of diverse groups in an engaging manner.

NCDD carried out an experiment with Codigital’s tool in March 2014 when it asked its members: What would you like to see happen when our field comes together at NCDD 2014? You can read Sandy’s blog post about the project and see Codigital’s project report.

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This resource was submitted by James Carr, co-founder of Codigital via the Add-a-Resource form. Please contact James ( or +1 303 884 1260) if you’d like to learn more about Codigital or arrange a webex demo.

Harnessing Collaborative Technologies: Helping Funders Work Together Better

In November 2013, Monitor Institute and the Foundation Center released a new report called Harnessing Collaborative Technologies: Helping Funders Work Together Better. As part of the research, we looked at more than 170 different technological tools now available to funders, dove deeply into the literature on philanthropic collaboration, analyzed the results of recent Foundation Center surveys, and spoke with a wide range of experts from the worlds of both technology and philanthropy.

HarnessingCollabTech-coverThe Harnessing Collaborative Technologies report helps readers make sense of the dizzying array of technologies that are now available to help those engaged in both low- and high-intensity collaborations by parsing the different collaborative needs of funders. How can new tools help funders learn and get smarter about the issues they care about? How can the technologies help you find and connect with potential partners? How can they help you transact business together? Which technologies can help you assess collective progress and measure outcomes? The report encourages funders to start with these collaborative needs rather than with the technologies themselves, to ensure that solutions fit the wants, requirements, and limitations of users.

Harnessing Collaborative Technologies also provides a set of principles that offer guidance for tool developers and funders about how to make thoughtful choices when investing in the creation and adaptation of new tools that facilitate collaborative work.

In addition to the gorgeous 43-page report, a super-useful interactive tool has been developed by GrantCraft at to help people identify tools to facilitate collaboration. This must-see tool is a joint service of the Foundation Center and the European Foundation Centre.

The report’s main headlines won’t come as a huge surprise to anyone: (1) more than ever before, funders are recognizing that they will need to collaborate to effectively to address the complex, intractable problems that we now face, and (2) new technologies—from simple group scheduling tools to comprehensive online collaboration workspaces—are now available to help facilitate the often challenging process of working together.

But there’s a deeper story beneath the headlines: about how these emerging technologies are enabling new types collaborations that weren’t possible (or at least much were more difficult) just a few years ago.

While much of the talk about collaboration these days centers on large, formal “collective impact” initiatives and “needle-moving” collaboratives, these types of highly intensive collaborative approaches aren’t necessarily right for all funders, all situations, and all purposes. In some cases, funders are simply looking to learn together. In others, they’re just aiming to understand the broader ecosystem of activity so they can act independently but still align their efforts with those of others.

New technologies are changing the playing field and making it cheaper and easier than ever before to facilitate these different types of “lower-intensity” collaborative activities. New collaborative platforms are helping funders share files and information, and can provide important forums for ongoing dialogue and conversation. Online project management systems are streamlining processes for coordinating and aligning action. And new tools for aggregating data and visualizing information now allow funders to see the larger funding landscape that they are a part of in new ways.

These simpler, technology-facilitated collaborative activities may not yield the outsized results of more complex, formal efforts, but they often produce very real improvements and outcomes, while also helping to build relationships and momentum that can build towards higher-intensity efforts.

By getting smarter about how we develop and use these collaborative tools, we have an opportunity to alleviate some of the “friction in the system” that has made working together—even in lower intensity ways—difficult until now.  And in doing so, we can ease the path to collaboration and help aggregate resources and effort that can match the scale of the problems we now face.

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Grantcraft tool that helps you find EXACT tool you need: