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Archive for the ‘Virtual Workshops’ Category

I just watched the webcast of Open the Door hosted by Openthegovernment.org. The panelists were:

  • Dan Chenok, a member of President Obama’s “Technology, Innovation and Government Reform” transition team, former branch chief for information policy and technology in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and currently senior vice president and general manager of Pragmatics;
  • Vivek Kundra, newly-appointed federal Chief Information Officer (CIO);
  • Katherine McFate, a Program Officer for Government Performance and Accountability in the Ford Foundation’s Governance Unit; and
  • Beth Noveck, a professor of law and director of the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School and author of Wiki Government (Brookings 2009).

This was the Sunshine Week 2009 National Dialogue sponsore by the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Center for American Progress, League of Women Voters,National Freedom of Information Coalition, OpenTheGovernment.org, Public Citizen, Special Libraries Association, Sunshine Week, and the Sunlight Foundation.

As far as I know, there were no hashtags and I didn’t know if anyone else was twittering, but I posted my share and now I’ve been asked to re-post them for my non-twittering friends, so here they are along with additional notes I took. No offense to host Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org who did a fabulous job moderating, but I posted a tiny tweetplaint (OMG, now I’m making up tweet words) about her chewing gum.

My Chicken Scratch:
More important than ever to get data into hands because of huge expenses going out the door for recovery and stimulus.
Have to look at this as an ecosystem. When data is democratized, we can hold officials  and ourselves accountable.

Vivek (Obama CIO) pointed to two examples of how transparency and open source have been effective tools for the federal government:

1) The NIH Human Genome project. They opened up the data to anyone, led to massive explosion in the number of people working on the Genome project. For a quick history and to see some of the amazing results of this open source research, check out this two-page fact sheet from the NIH: www.nih.gov/about/researchresultsforthepublic/HumanGenomeProject.pdf
2) DOD and satellites when they released coordinates, led to geospatial data.

But we have to remember that it is not just technology for technology’s sake. We have to be focused on what the technology will enable us to do.

Connect people to services rather than to government agencies. Each agency has a separate web site. The services are organized according to the bureaucracy not according to the services that people need and not in a way that can be easily accessed.

Technology is just one element of transparency. It’s not the solution. It has to be embedded in the C.I.O.’s DNA. They have to come to favor solutions that make it easier for citizens to access and understand how their government works.

Driven by three values outlined in Obama’s memorandum

  • Transparency
  • Participation
  • Collaboration

When people understand the basis for a decision and are able to participate in the decision-making process they are more ready to live with the decision even if they don’t agree.
Accountable Recovery Resources:

What can you do to monitor the Recovery money? Do it at your state level.
Look at what states and localities are doing. Do they have web sites? What is on them? Is it helpful? If they aren’t good, tell them, write op-eds. Check out resources at http://accountablerecovery.net/ and tell accountable Recovery if you find good things that are working!

This is a special moment to reshape the way democracy works. We have a president committed to hearing what people have to say.
This is our moment to change the structures so that everyone can be engaged. This is about reinvigorating democracy.

Models from other countries: Singapore has a very open electronic gov’t platform. UK has a government gateway that they run transactions through. There is a huge e-government movement internationally.

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Steve Clift, founder of e-democracy.org hosted two-part webinar on Citizen Media and Online Engagement on February 5. The archive will be available for people who donate any amount between now and March 1, 2009. Donate here and you will receive a link to listen to the archive.

The first part of the presentation highlighted interesting citizen media and online engagement projects. Technology has dramatically shifted the power and control over who gets to tell the story about their community and what stories get told. People are using blogs, twitter, text messages, Flickr and YouTube to report what is happening in their local neighborhood.

In addition to Steve’s presentation, the Knight Foundation has funded a number of projects that provide great resources for citizen journalists, such as:

  • the University of Maryland’s J-Lab which helps communities start citizen news ventures, and
  • Knight Citizen News Network that guides both ordinary citizens and traditional journalists in launching and responsibly operating community news and information sites and that assembles news innovations and research on citizen media projects.

Part two of e-democracy’s workshop focused intensively on the secrets of starting an online Issues Forum (or learning from what we do to help your own project). Each section is roughly 50 minutes and well worth the donation!

Check out the slides for Citizen Media and Online Engagement and Issues Forums Webinar.

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The 3th Annual Technology, Colleges, and Community (TCC) Worldwide Online Conference will be held April 15-17. The theme of this year’s conference is “The New Internet: Collaboration, Convergence, Creativity, Contrast , and Challenges”. While TCC is a worldwide online conference designed for university and college practitioners, several of the workshops have application to the online dialogue and deliberation world and those of us interested in using technology for professional development, networking, and collaboration. Just a few examples:

Here’s a brief description of the conference theme this year:

The new Internet is a global workspace for collaboration and sharing while providing forums for different voices, new challenges, and creativity. People, technologies, and perspectives have converged, and yet there is a greater diversity of tools to communicate, collaborate, create, and compete. Today, the Internet is proliferated with “weapons of mass collaboration.” (See Wikinomics by Don Tapscott & Anthony Williams, 2006)

My experience with this conference last year was very positive and I’m intrigued by the way the University of Hawaii is using this distance education platform for an online conference.

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exgtreme democracy

Date: July 30, 2007
Time: 7:00p.m. to 8:00 CDT
Where: Texas Forums Virtual Room (See discussion guide for instructions)
Cost: Free
Topic: Politics and Networks
Download discussion guide for:

  • Description of discussion topics,
  • Definition of Extreme Democracy,
  • Links to all reading materials,
  • Instructions about how to log into the room,
  • Everything you need to know about this series

Essays for July 30

It’s the Conversation Stupid!: The Link between Social Action & Political Choice, by Valdis Krebs
Discuss Krebs essay
Social Network Dynamics & Participatory Politics, by Ross Mayfield
Discuss Mayfield essay
Broadcasting & the Voter’s Paradox, by David Weinberger
Discuss Weinberger essay

Available only in print version, not online:
Sociable Technology & Democracy, by danah boyd (pp. 183-193)

The Calculus of Political Power, by Mitch Ratcliffe (pp. 127-153)

Download slides introducing tonight’s topics

Also of interest
We have invited all of the authors of the essays for discussion to join us. Mitch Ratcliffe has been a regular participant. So far tonight, we know that we will also be joined by Vladis Krebs. This is a great opportunity to engage in a dialogue about politics and networks with colleagues from around the world (France, for example is represented!) and some of the leading extreme democracy thinkers!

Background about Extreme Democracy
This is the sixth of a twelve part discussion series on Extreme Democracy co-sponsored by the Central Texas World Future Society and Texas Forums, an initiative of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum.

The purpose of these discussions is to explore the principles and technologies of Extreme Democracies, and to explore how these concepts and technologies are affecting our own social change efforts, our democracy, and the upcoming election. These discussions take place online synchronously in the Texas Forums Virtual Room on Monday evenings at 7:00 p.m. Central Time. Participants are encouraged to also participate in an asynchronous dialogue about the readings for the week on the Extreme Democracy Blog.

You do not have to participate in all sessions.

These discussions are free and open to everyone.

For more information about this series including a schedule of events and hardware/software requirements for participation in the series, visit the Texas Forum blog. Read the discussion guide here. It includes a description of how to use the virtual meeting room.

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Tonight is the fifth of a twelve part discussion series on Extreme Democracy co-sponsored by the Central Texas World Future Society and Texas Forums, an initiative of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum.

The purpose of these discussions is to explore the principles and technologies of Extreme Democracies, and to explore how these concepts and technologies are affecting our own social change efforts, our democracy, and the upcoming election.

Our conversation tonight, focusing on the power and the potential for a few people with a web presence to have a voice in national politics (how well Trent Lott knows this!), will ironically be taking place in the second hour of the CNN/YouTube democrat presidential debate, hosted by Anderson Cooper. Beginning at 7:00 Eastern (6:00 Central) the eight Democratic candidates (the Republicans get their shot on Sept. 17) will respond to video questions submitted by ordinary citizens on YouTube. CNN is even encouraging amateur reporters to submit their take on the candidates by video after the debates

  • Is this just a gimmick?
  • What does this all mean?
  • How will this influence the conversation between the political elites and citizens?
  • Will this, as David Borhman the Washington bureau chief for CNN speculates, “push the definition of a debate”?
  • Will this, as Jeff Jarvis who blogs on buzzmachine.com says, show mainstream journalists how to ask better questions?

Tune into CNN at 6:00 p.m. tonight (Central) for the first hour of the debates and then join us in our virtual room at 7:00 (Central for a discussion and reflection of how these new technologies are influencing politics and whether they are truly bringing in new voices and changing the media’s role.

More about Extreme Democracy

Download discussion guide for:

  • Description of discussion topics,
  • Definition of Extreme Democracy,
  • Links to all reading materials,
  • Instructions about how to log into room,
  • Everything you need to know about this series

Essays for July 23

Power Laws, Weblogs & Inequality, by Clay Shirky
Post your online comments about Shirky essay here
Building on Experience, by Mitch Ratcliffe
Post your online comments about Ratcliffe essay here

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extreme democracy

“Democracy is a beautiful idea – government by and for the people. Democracy promises us the freedom to exercise out highest capacities while it protects us from our worst tendencies. In democracy as it ought to be, all adults are free to chime in, to join the conversation on how they should arrange their life together. And no one is left free to enjoy the unchecked power that leads to arrogance and abuse.

Like many beautiful ideas, however, democracy travels through our minds shadowed by its doubles – bad ideas that are close enough to easily mistaken for the real thing. Democracy has many doubles, but the most seductive is majority rule, and this is not democracy. It is merely government by and for the majority.”

So begins the book, First Democracy: the Challenge of an Ancient Idea written by Paul Woodruff (Oxford University Press, 2005 ) and summarized by Paul Schumann, founder of the Central Texas World Future Society on the Extreme Democracy Blog.

Woodruff concludes the book with an afterword entitled Are Americans Ready for Democracy? wherein he takes each of the principles and asks questions about the present state of democracy in America. He ends the book with, “Are we ready to shake off the idea that we are already a perfect exemplar of democracy? Are we ready to put the goals of democracy foremost in our political minds, as many Athenians did? Are we ready to admit our mistakes and learn from them, as they did? Most important, are we ready to keep the great dream alive, the dream of a government of the people, by the people and for the people?”

These questions provide the framework for our Extreme Democracy discussions launching on June 18 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time in the Texas Forums OPAL Room.

For more information about participating in this exciting series, check out our Extreme Democracy Discussion Guide.

Read Paul Schumann’s full summary of First Democracy: the Challenge of an Ancient Idea.

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[This posting first appeared on May 31, 2007 in anticipation of our training session on June 6. Although the date of the training has passed, we are still looking for volunteers. If you are interested, please leave a comment here or e-mail Taylor Willingham.] 

On June 6 at 7:00 p.m., (Central) Texas Forums will be conducting an online workshop to train Volunteer Technical Production Assistants. We are recruiting these volunteers to assist with our online presentations and workshops, which we are expanding over the coming year. If you are interested in learning about the online technology we are using and how you can get involved, please join us on the 6th, by clicking here from your PC with Internet Explorer. More details below…

The Call For Volunteers

Texas Forums is looking for a few good geeks, semi-geeks, wanna-be geeks, hackers or folks who are “pretty comfy” with computers to provide technical support for our virtual workshops using the Opal Online Technology.

And the best part is…you can do it from your own home computer. You don’t even have to live in Texas!

Plus, you’ll get to participate in some really cool workshops and presentations and get to meet people from all around the country!

What You Will Do

We host workshops, panel presentations, meetings and lectures in a virtual room that has audio, text, whiteboard, and slide (url or powerpoint) push technology. We have had speakers and participants from every corner of the country and will be partnering with colleagues in other countries. These presentations are recorded and archived. Visit our archive for a sample of the work we have done!

Once you complete the training, you will become part of our pool of volunteers we can call on to help out with future presentations. If you are scheduled to be the Volunteer Technical Production Assistant for the workshop, you will log into the site twenty minutes before the start time, conduct sound sound checks with the participants and speakers, make certain the slides work and record the event. (the technology is built in, you just have to hit a button!) After everyone is set, you are free to participate, learn and contribute! Sessions are generally 60-90 minutes.

The Technology Requirements

All you need is a moderate degree of comfort with your own PC computer, Internet Explorer (my deepest apologies to my fellow Macgeeks!) speakers and a microphone (available for as low as $15).

Joining the Room

You can locate the Texas Forums virtual room by:

clicking here and bookmarking it in your Internet Explorer favorites folder or your del.icio.us account, or
go to our host, OPAL Online at http://www.opal-online.org, find “meeting rooms” at the top of the page, scroll down to “Texas Forums”.

When you visit the Texas Forums virtual room, you will see this:

opal room

Just download Talkcom the first time. After that you click on the big orange button to join the room. Once in, you’ll see something like this:

TF room

How to Get Involved

We will hold our first training session on June 6. Join us at 7:00 p.m. (Central), by clicking here from your PC with Internet Explorer. If you can’t make the training session, leave a comment here or send an e-mail to Taylor Willingham.

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[On April 2, Texas Forums hosted a workshop for members of the National Issues Forums network on how to use principles of citizen journalism to report the results of their forums. Led by John Doble (Public Agenda) and Marla Crockett (Citizen Journalism expert) about 15-20 people (participants log in and out so it’s hard to count!) learned how to report on what people in forums are saying as well as how they are talking about the issue. The following was written by participant Margaret Holt from Georgia and published in Bob Daley’s Letter from Home from the Kettering Foundation.]

April 3, 2007

Bob – Here’s a little report of an online forum on citizen journalism from your Georgia Stringer, MHolt:

Last night (8-10 p.m. EST) I participated in an “OPAL” event sponsored by Texas Forums. I didn’t need to leave Watkinsville, Georgia, to be a part of this. Taylor Willingham (aka Teckie Taylor) arranged this event for us. It was instructive and extremely interactive. The energy issue was used for our entry into a discussion of citizen journalists.

“OPAL is an international collaborative effort by libraries of all types to provide web-based programs and training for library users and library staff members. These live events are held in online rooms where participants can interact via voice-over-IP, text chatting, and synchronized browsing.”

There were 16 participants with Taylor Willingham moderating the group. Most of us could hear one another, many of us could speak using a web microphone, but even when that wasn’t possible due to individual technologies available to participants, everyone could enter written comments that we all could read no matter if we were in New York, Georgia, Texas and many other locations. Marla Crockett and John Doble led us through some useful ideas about citizen journalism. This was very meaningful to Jill Severn and me in Georgia, because we’d like to experiment more with citizen journalists in our PPI in late June.

Although the technology is not yet “perfect”, it has come a long way, and interacting with all these tools is sure a lot more pleasant than dealing with the Atlanta Airport. I do prefer seeing my colleagues like Patty and John face-to-face, but this technology provided a very adequate way to hone in on a special topic. Everything we said is archived – the written and the verbal, and the slides as well. That means that anytime we want to guide people on this topic we have immediate access to fresh thinking.

Here are some comments from my Georgia colleague, Jill Severn: (Jill is Head of Access and Outreach in our Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia)

“I found the citizen journalist training to be a worthwhile experience. I’m still amazed that technology allows us to come together in such interesting ways. I look forward to listening to the recording of the seminar and reviewing the slides–so much was happening all at once with the chat and the regular commentary of the presenters that I know I missed something. One thing that struck me is that this training should be offered more broadly in the same way that issue-framing and moderating currently are.

The skills of listening and assessing have board potential value for PPI participants working on sharing/publicizing their own projects and issues. I’m also energized about exploring distance learning seminars as something that Russell might offer. Texas Forums are a wonderful model! “

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In our virtual workshop tonight, Patty Dineen asked this question:

What would you say in the main purpose of a report?

What would make a report useful for: policymmakers, other members of the public, members of the media?

What would be the very best thin that could happen as a resut of a report about deliberative forums?

How should we be using reports that have been already published?

So??? Let’s talk!

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