The Online Deliberative Democracy Consortium (ODDC), the Consortium’s Workgroup supporting online innovation in the field, has created deliberative-democracy.net, a group blog, its eBulletin and a knowledge-building “wiki” to facilitate communication and collaboration across its geographically distributed network. In addition to basic information about the Consortium, the website links to partner organizations and provides a select pool of reference materials.
Among the Consortium’s online assets are:
- Deliberative-democracy.net, the internet’s most prominent destination for news about deliberative democracy, receives 3,000-4,000 hits each month and is the second site to appear when the words “deliberative democracy” are searched using the well-known Google internet search service.
- The d-d.net eBulletin is a monthly electronic newsletter that highlights recent activity in the field, distributed via email to more than 700 unique subscribers.
- The Democracy Movement, a group blog maintained by more than a dozen leading scholars and practitioners in the field, that regularly raises topics of interest in the field for discussion.
- The FedNet wiki, maintained by the Link to Government Workgroup, provides a private network for federal government managers to cultivate a community of practice through online knowledge sharing and networking.
- The Deliberative Democracy Handbook Online is a section of the d-d.net website dedicated exclusively to the Handbook, providing chapter summaries, author bios, and discussion boards.
As part of the Consortium’s effort to make these and other online technologies accessible to deliberative democracy practitioners as a strategy to grow the field, the Consortium is developing an online toolkit. These tools, which include content management services in addition to email features, can be run from the Consortium’s web server supporting multiple domains. We expect that by making such services available to a range of practitioners in the field, we can enable them to improve and promote their work through networking and collaboration, while directing the bulk of their time and resources toward the activities they do best.
Much of the Consortium’s online activities are carried out through the Online Deliberative Democracy Workgroup (ODDC). This network, composed of some of the leading actors in online deliberation, meets on a monthly basis to share recent activities in the field and to develop strategies to bolster online deliberation efforts in the U.S. and around the world. In 2005, the ODDC held a regional meeting, “Deepening Online Deliberation Through Practice and Research,” in June 2005 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The meeting, attended by state and local elected officials, was widely regarded as highly productive and strengthened the commitment to collaboration among local participants.
Over the next year, the ODDC is planning to replicate its “Deepening Deliberation”meeting in other locations around the country, developing a “circuit riders” program to provide set-up and support for its toolkit. The ODDC is also writing several “positioning papers” that will strengthen the case for deliberation online.