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Mass Online Deliberation in Participatory Policy-Making—Part I

Rationale, Lessons from Past Experiments, and Requirements

Part of the Public Administration and Information Technology book series (PAIT,volume 25)

Abstract

This two-part chapter proposes a model and some design choices to build a Mass Online Deliberation (MOD) system, aimed at supporting orderly, fair, inclusive and purposeful participation of a large number of people. According to this model, a deliberation on a given issue, in a given community and at a given time (a “deliberandum”), progresses through a number of phases, roughly corresponding to ideation (moving and discussing proposals, with a proposals’ clustering algorithm operating in the background), consolidation (i.e. editing of one proposal per cluster) and reconciliation (of some among the consolidated proposals from different clusters). Depending on a given context of use, a final selection of one among the remaining irreconcilable proposals may be done by vote either among the deliberants only, or within the whole community (a referendum), or else, within a randomly selected panel of community members. The specific mechanisms defined in our model are as follows: mutual moderation and two- or three-parametric appraisal of each other’s contributions (hence without employing any staff of external moderators or facilitators); semantic clustering of a large number of proposals, performed in the background by the system and mostly based on the distribution of participants’ appraisals among contributions; and also some specific role of experts in the field, whose participation is limited to providing facts and replying to factual questions, not to actively influence participants’ opinions. Multilingual mass deliberation is discussed at the end of the Part II of the chapter.

Keywords

  • Social Medium
  • Public Participation
  • Trained Moderator
  • Natural Language Processing Tool
  • National Forum

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In this chapter, the commonly used “e” qualifier in such terms as “eParticipation” and “eConsultation” does not mean an activity performed exclusively online, but an activity, a process, or a campaign, of which maybe only some parts, or stages, may or should be performed online. In particular, our concept of “Mass Online Deliberation” relates to a process with a central stage (common deliberation) performed exclusively online, preceded and followed by complementary stages not necessarily performed online.

  2. 2.

    All references are given to the English translations of Habermas’ works. The original books in German have been published three to four years earlier.

  3. 3.

    Interestingly, while FB offers a possibility of selective posting to a specified category of one’s “friends”, this option is rarely used by FB subscribers.

  4. 4.

    Here, we cannot resist the temptation of reminding a famous precedent—the political pay installed in the late fifth century BC in Athens, rewarding those citizens who attended the meetings of the Assembly (by self-selection, not by random selection, as it is sometimes wrongly claimed)—see Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians (or Athenaiōn Politeia) 41.3.

  5. 5.

    This could for instance include web-based simulation tools, whereby participants can check the effects and the validity of their own proposals and those of the other participants. For the design of such a functionality, see Prosser and Müller-Török (2011).

  6. 6.

    For the state of the art in argument mining, see (Lippi and Toroni 2016).

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Correspondence to Cyril Velikanov .

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Velikanov, C., Prosser, A. (2017). Mass Online Deliberation in Participatory Policy-Making—Part I. In: Paulin, A., Anthopoulos, L., Reddick, C. (eds) Beyond Bureaucracy. Public Administration and Information Technology, vol 25. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-54142-6_13

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