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Why "participatory deliberation"? from where?

*Re-draft of a letter; X-posted from Public deliberation on climate change in Alberta*

I came across something of interest while going through old material in one of my blogs. In the process of setting up a new blog with old material (WordPress can import from other blog platforms … sometimes very, very well. But when not “very well” it’s catastrophic!) I had to go through checking for data errors. In the process of that, I came across something I noted 5yrs ago about healthcare policy / personality types. In a nutshell: that’s what I’ve been beavering away at since 1975.

Facilitating workshops here in Edmonton about GATT (The social justice community was active in this long before there was an “anti-globalization movement”.) I noticed something about the way people formed opinions. It seemed to me that the strength of their conviction and the confidence of their positions bore very little relationship with the accuracy of their knowledge or the depth of their understanding. This concerned me. A lot. As an 8 year (1962) old I read about the Hungarian Revolution. The next year Kennedy was assassinated. When Prague Spring rolled around I was on the hippie bus and we hosted some kids who showed up here that summer. Then … and this is key … while I was in uniform (Canadian equivalent to Signals Intelligence, after have trained airborne infantry) we over-threw the Allende government in Chile. So how citizens relate to policy concerned me a lot. As it does today.

I know I’m not one of the brilliant ones. But I also know (industry tested) that when one persists with good craft one experiences something like success. My point … or, rather, the point of my “participatory deliberation” project … is that only discourse can root convictions in one’s personal belief system. Otherwise? Otherwise it’s usually some sort of sophistry … or, at best, rhetoric. What I find is that many times positions taken are as though proxies for other issues. Some sort of displacement? I don’t know for certain. If I’m granted a second life with intellect I may devote myself to cog-psych and study that, as I wish I could have in this one! đŸ˜‰

My suggestion is that a system that fosters (read: imposes) logical rigour can support true discourse while promoting the individuals’ subjective narrative. The up-side of having an actual design rather than abstract theory is that, like most good craft, it has multiple applications. Like, for example, acting as the core of a pedagogical method. (Imagine something like Harvard University’s Harvard’s Professor Sandel in his “Justice” series on a global scale. Really!) Or, somewhat more mundane, as the spine of a deliberative system for budgeting and other policy decisions at a municipal level. OpenYEG, yes? Parks policy in Edmonton … or, moving up a notch, energy policy for the province, or the country.

I like to think of it in terms of Hermann Hesse’s glasperlenspiel, or pondering the impact of the ancient Library of Alexandria, keeping in mind UBC’s John Willinsky and his work on Open Access. Likewise Jurgen Habermas, with his “discourse ethics”. But what I’m really talking about is a spreadsheet of sorts … a spreadsheet for ideas. “Merely” … and it only took me from 1975 to 2003 to figure out how to do it! đŸ™‚

If I had some sort of backing, any sort of support or collaboration or sign of interest, I’d be more explicit about my design. But I don’t, so I’m not. And so I don’t often run my mouth like this. But discovering that old blog post seemed an opportune moment for heh something like an exposee.

If some of this seems at all sensible to you, please do let me know!

As I wrote in “GroundPlane 101“:

To energize collective intelligence …
… to magnetize the wisdom of crowds.
==== ====
Thinking together about what is crucial …
… speaking deeply about simple things.


Me and "them"

Here’s the mockup I created of the graphical interface to IssuePress:

(Click for explanation)

And here’s the fancy graphical front end for “Grab More Science“:

When you click on one of the boxes, you get this:


Sooooo, who’s getting paid to develop this stuff? Not me …

Drinking the Koolaid: "Light and Love Delusion" as the new jingoism

*X-posted from my blog on*

Micah Sifry quoted this in his post about the IntenseDebate deployment on Change.Gov:

“I just wanted to say thank you for giving us a place to make our thoughts and comment heard. It’s about time the government provide a centralized place for citizens to express their opinions where they feel they will be heard.” [Emphasis added by him there.]

My response to him on Twitter was this:
“With 3.7K / 53 pages of comments (and the thread closed), you say ID on Change.Gov is a place people can go to be heard?! #koolaid”
In effect, this says that standing in a crowd with 3,699 other people and holding up a placard is a brave step forward for engaged democracy.
That’s non-sense … and worse: it leads to complacent self-delusion, entirely antithetical to the drive for innovation.

Sidebar: I noticed that Sifry has blocked me on Twitter …
… to that, I tweeted this: ” Well, after years of cold-shoulder I finally got a reaction: blocked by none other than @Mlsif, the high-priest of democracy. #borg #matrix ”

The ironies are ripe … and entirely keeping with what might seem a cynical appraisal on my part: those who are charged with the responsibility of applauding the Emperor’s new clothes are doing just that.
Such behavior has consequences.

Whitaker's Autopoiesis and Enactment

see also his page on Francisco Varela:

clipped from

The Biology of Cognition
Autopoietic Theory
Enactive Cognitive Science

The Theories of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela

Autopoiesis and Enaction

Brought to You By:

Dr. Randall Whitaker

  blog it

Cat Out O'the Bag?

*I’ve been in “stealth mode” for years … cat definitely in the bag.*

A while back I did a little online work for a guy on the other side of the Atlantic … just helping him re-design the frontpage of his commercial site. Not rocket science, but not thumb-twiddling either.
Thing is, he had no means of paying me. I don’t have credit card, so paypal is out.

So I decided to start the implementation phase of my project and arranged for him to get me an account at DreamHost. And that’s where things stand.
But now the time has come for me to renew that account and secure my domain name.

Well, I just let the cat’s head out:

“The Antenna is You” –

Quick bookmarks (re-jig)

Re-posting August 04, 2005 which I deleted due to constant Russian spamming.

*I’m on my second laptop and so don’t want to add these sites to bookmarks* XULPlanet and its Forum General, XUL, XBL, and″ XPCOM . aka ”Neil’s Place” (XUL blog)

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    • Me and "them" (4)
      • Ben Tremblay: There are more comments on the original of this, at 85214.html –bdt
      • Anonymous: Latest Update Wanted to drop by and give a quick update on the science news graph. We just launched a...
      • admin: Re: We made some updates Just a reminder: h/boxGraph.html And yes, there is in...
      • Anonymous: We made some updates Hello, we appreciate the write up. We got other feedback that said the same about the...
    • "Mind mapping" at work with blogging (8)
      • hfx_ben: Related “Visual Innovation Tool” from
      • admin: Re: Hello Vic Visio does really nice work, for sure. But still, and yet … one step from 2008 and...
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