What Should Go on the Internet: Privacy, Freedom and Security Online (NIFI Issue Guide)

The National Issues Forums Institute published the 12-page Issue Guide, What Should Go on the Internet: Privacy, Freedom and Security Online (2013) and is an update to an earlier guide about the Internet. This guide is designed to help facilitate balanced deliberation about what should go on the internet.

From the guide…

NIFI_Internet2013The same Internet that has given us new ways to socialize, learn, and engage in civic life has also given criminals new avenues to steal from us and scam us, often using information gleaned from public government documents now posted online. And because no one’s in charge, there’s no single authority we can call to complain.

When does our personal information become public? What data collection is acceptable? Should there be limits on what we can do online? It’s time to find a way to balance our needs to safeguard privacy, preserve free speech, and ensure security for all our citizens, young and old.

It’s time to answer the question: What should go on the Internet?

This issue guide was prepared for the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation, and is an updated version (2013) of a previous guide about the Internet.

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation:

Option One: “Protect Individual Privacy”
Privacy is a fundamental American value. But the Internet has obliterated the line between public and private, forcing Americans to live in a virtual fishbowl. Our top priority must be to safeguard personal information on the Internet.

Option Two: “Promote Freedom of Speech and Commerce”
The Internet is a revolutionary leap forward for democratic societies and free markets. Direct or indirect censorship by concerned citizens, special interests, or government could stifle this great resource.

Option Three: “Secure Us from Online Threats”
The Internet is a Wild West of criminal activity that threatens our personal safety, our economic vitality, and our national security. Our top priority must be protecting our children and ourselves.

More about the NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Issue Guides are generally available in print or PDF download for a small fee ($2 to $4). All NIFI Issue Guides and associated tools can be accessed at www.nifi.org/en/issue-guides.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/what-should-go-internet-2013

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

Resource Link: www.airesis.info/

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


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.

Resource Link: www.codigital.com

This resource was submitted by James Carr, co-founder of Codigital via the Add-a-Resource form. Please contact James (james@codigital.com 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 http://collaboration.grantcraft.org 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.

Resource Link: http://monitorinstitute.com/blog/2013/11/07/collaborative-technologies-reducing-the-friction-in-the-system/

Grantcraft tool that helps you find EXACT tool you need:  http://collaboration.grantcraft.org/

In the Goldfish Bowl: Science and technology policy dialogues in a digital world

This June 2013 thought piece from Sciencewise-ERC  explores the opportunities and challenges of engaging online. The report  represents a systematic attempt by Sciencewise to bring together two trends in public policy decision making: digitalization and open government, with a focus on how public dialogue efforts can harness the full potential of online and digital technologies.

The Sciencewise-ERC is the UK’s national centre for public dialogue in policy making involving science and technology issues. It provides co-funding and specialist advice and support to Government departments and agencies to develop and commission public dialogue activities in emerging areas of science and technology. The publication is authored by Susie Latta, Charlotte Mulcare and Anthony Zacharzewski from the Democratic Society.

From the Executive Summary:

Public opinion is increasingly driven by information obtained through digital means and policy makers are shifting the bulk of engagement exercises and public opinion-gathering online. Even where policy makers use offline tools such as focus groups or deliberative dialogue, these activities take place against a background of digitally-mediated understanding.

Digital engagement, if used well, can:

  • Amplify the impact of offline engagement and create better starting conditions for offline events
  • Help to build a baseline of technical knowledge to inform discussion
  • Widen access and increase transparency

On the negative side, digital routes can quickly spread misinformation that distorts or oversimplifies information, thereby undermining related policy debate. Similarly, digital media can exacerbate the problem of over-simplifying complex technological points, and can also be used to present a baseline of opinion rather than knowledge.

In this report, Sciencewise-ERC has developed a typology for digital engagement that illustrates how two key considerations, topic and method, can be used to group different digital communication tools, so that policy makers can match technique to need.

Reviewing current engagement with science-based policy, several key themes emerge as critical success factors:

  • utilising existing networks;
  • harnessing multiple digital channels;
  • using trusted experts to engage directly with participants in engagement;
  • looking to citizen-led participation;
  • ensuring transparency and openness throughout;
  • enabling the public to have a key role in setting the agenda for discussion;
  • bringing dissenters/sceptics into the debate;
  • informing how opinions have been taken on board; ensuring sufficient accessibility of technical information for those wishing to ‘mine into the data’;
  • and honesty during controversy.

Looking to the future, digital methods are increasingly likely to dominate engagement in science-based policy, perhaps even becoming the primary portal for debate.

Resource Link: www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/in-the-goldfish-bowl-science-and-technology-policy-dialogues-in-a-digital-world/

Download it directly at www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/assets/Uploads/In-the-goldfish-bowl-FINAL-VERSION.pdf