Friday, November 03, 2006

Online dialogue project seeks to bring Red States and Blue States together

RedBlueIt's election time here in the U.S., and as any American can tell you, politics these days isn't democracy in action, it's a blood sport. Not only are politicians having a tough time being civil to each other, so, too, are members of the voting public. Even among my own family, we try to avoid politics and stick with less controversial topics--like religion and sex.

There may be hope, however, for those who long for a better way to debate the important issues of our times.

As reported today on Colin Rule's Blog at the Center for Internet and Society, the Public Conversations Project seeks participants for RedBlue, an online dialogue project that will bring people on opposite ends of the political spectrum together:

RedBlue will be an interactive Internet application that will provide an exciting yet safe way to engage directly with someone on "the other side" of the political spectrum. This new approach to civic engagement is designed to leave behind the confrontational and polarizing forms of discourse that dominate today’s Red vs. Blue debates and reintroduce Americans to the old-fashioned notion that in matters of public policy, there can be room for reasonable people to disagree.

RedBlue will create a private, one-on-one online dialogue process by matching participants with contrasting views. "Counterparts" will learn about the ground rules of productive dialogue, then engage on a difficult issue by viewing or reading a fictional narrative scenario that frames a front-page issue in personal, rather than theoretical, terms. Their email-style discussion will be monitored by a "virtual facilitator" that will make suggestions, provide feedback, and offer to step in when the heat of the moment threatens to derail the civility of the dialogue.
For more information, visit http://www.redblueus.org/.