Posts Tagged ‘No Better Time’

John Stephens, University of North Carolina and I led a conference session at nbt09

Tech ethics: The values questions raised in a digital democracy
Many attribute the dramatic increase in youth engagement to shifts in the way democracy worked in this past presidential election, particularly the Obama campaign’s more technological orientation.

Workshop Goal:
This session will examine timeless questions – who controls information, who participates in policy making, how do we ensure equal voice and opportunity, what happens when we skip the relationship-building aspect of strengthening public life – in a new, techno-democracy.

Taylor Willingham, Texas Forums
John Stephens, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill


1.    Five lines of questions/topics – as part of introductions, please identify which ones are of interest to you.

A.     What does the dramatic increase in youth engagement (heavily tilted toward online and new communication media) mean for face-to-face democracy-building?
B.    Where are the digital divides – age, economic disparity, language – and how do we overcome them?
C.    Who controls information exchange? Extremes: no control, free expression and flame wars, “unfair” claims OK  vs. Need general rules for the road, and OK for content creators to retain some/significant control over flow of information
D.    New media, journalism, and the tension between accountability and openness/privacy. Recent example: Iran protests and Western journalists inability to confirm images/reports as accurate, but went ahead and used them.
E.    Are the technology advocates in sync with the deliberative democracy advocates?

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From July 8-11, 2009, I am attending the Democracy Imperative and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, a  national conference at the University of New Hampshire.

Background of the Democracy Imperative:

A couple of years ago, Bruce Mallory and Nancy Thomas convened a meeting of higher education folks to address the question: Is there a need for those of us concerned with the role of higher education in deliberative democracy to join forces and share knowledge and resources? The answer has been a resounding YES as is evident by the number of people participating here this week – 270 antitipated and judging from the limited number of open seats. The guest list reads like a who’s who in higher education and deliberation / service learning / community development & organizing. In addition, there are a number of representatives from non-profits.

To get a really good idea of who is here, David Campt is leading us through a keypad poll using Turning Point keypads. Here are the results:

  • 1/3 have used keypads, and 1/3 are new.
  • 60% are female
  • 41% are 40-55, but we do have 7% below 24 years and hopeful for more in the future!
  • 73% white again confirming that diversity is an ongoing challenge for this field
  • we are primarily from U.S., but we have 20% from outside of North America representing important perspectives for us to have in the room.
  • very good representation from around the country with the bulk (38%) from the northeast where the conference is taking place.
  • As far as the two issues that drew people to the field:
    • collaborative governance
    • justice and equity issues
  • Given lots of options about who we wanted to meet at this conference, the bulk answered “the person sitting next to me” (although Sarah Palin’s media advisor got a few hits proving that even academics have a sense of humor and, like me I will confess, can’t take their eyes off a train wreck!)

In just a couple of hours, I will be co-facilitiating a session with colleague John Stephens from the University of North Carolina on: Tech Ethics: The Values questions raised in a digital democracy.

I’ll check in throughout the week as I get time and have something worthwhile to say – or not!

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