Perhaps for obvious reasons, I am interested in how important issues get debated. I have written before about how I think the community engagement process for new developments is largely broken. I think it naturally incents certain kinds of feedback.
Recently, I’ve been playing around with an online platform called Kialo. They call themselves “an easy to use, yet powerful tool to engage in thoughtful discussion, understand different points of view, and help with collaborative decision-making.”
The site works by trying to create a structured hierarchy of pros and cons around debatable questions. You participate by making claims (supported by links). Duplicate claims are neatly grouped together. And unthoughtful suggestions are moderated out.
The UI looks like this (top level question shown):
But you can then drill down into specific claim groupings (note the org chart looking graphic at the top):
I’m not yet convinced that it creates the “collaborative reasoning system” that they are after (maybe because I haven’t used it enough). But I do really appreciate the structure and civility that they are trying to introduce to topics that are often vehemently debated.
Are any of you regular users of Kialo?
No I do not use it but for years I participated in group decision making sometimes as a facilitator and the idea of bundling ideas and drilling down to a consensus or decision was inherent in the process. (I am NOT talking about the classic public meeting which so very often engenders all sorts of nastiness) We successfully used the charrette process in all regions of Canada to design projects and communities and always were able to reach a successful conclusion even with dissenters in the process in the allotted time. You can go so far online where people can be rude and/or misunderstood) but nothing is better than a real in person facilitated dialogue
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I do not disagree with your point about face to face collaboration however as an educator I see great value in using this tool to teach students how to debate and collaborate around polarized issues.