Six weeks ago, Dave Briggs kicked off a little project which he described as follows:
I’m rather interested in the referendum that we are going get get next May in the UK about changing our voting system.
It occurs to me that it isn’t an issue I have a particularly strong understanding of, and I’m sure that’s the case for a few other people as well.
So, with the help of friends like Anthony and Catherine, I’ve kicked off AVdebate – which will be an online space for constructive, deliberative debate and learning about voting reform, which will hopefully help folk make up their minds.
For now, AVdebate is a Google Group with a dozen or so people on it, but there’s already been some interesting activity:
- Anthony listed out some ‘use cases’, identifying the kinds of people who might come to this kind of site, from interested but undecided voters, through to journalists and campaigners
- Catherine came up with a list of the kinds of content the site might offer, combining factual editorial content with ways for people to contribute their own points of view or arguments
My small recent contribution was to start thinking about how the site might be organised, and how you might start to visualise a debate of this kind online. A timeline? A mind map? The pros and cons? Or something else?
There’s great potential in this kind of site, that takes the work of pioneers like Debategraph and uses a combination of curated and original content, social media aggregation, and a really good interface to help host and stimulate an intelligent discussion about a tricky question. The AV referendum feels like a great testing ground, but I see potentially much wider application to help explore the big policy questions of our time. What’s the economic case for cuts vs stimulus? Why is tackling climate change difficult? How can we improve the lot of people in the developing world? What would it take to make our society more socially mobile?
It would be great to have some more minds and ideas on the job. If you’re interested in this stuff – whether it’s the content, the aggregation, the user interface or the sociology of it all – then it would be great to have you on board the Google Group. It feels like we could build something really quite clever if we put our collective minds to it.