There is a great deal of innovation around giving Americans a greater voice in their government, but we still have a long way to go. That’s why I’m excited to see the National Dialogue Network (NDN) breaking new ground and the Conversation Collaborative’s online experiment from Ben Roberts (a member of the NDN working group.)
The closest thing we currently have to a “national conversation” is the comment section of the NY Times and other major newspapers. Comments aren’t a conversation. There isn’t enough back-and-forth exchange for participants to inquire more deeply with each other about comments they don’t understand or to explore opposing opinions in a productive way.
Blended models of online, phone-based, and in-person participation are emerging, and there is so much potential there. As a board member for the 1700-member National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, I look forward to watching NDN develop and share its lessons learned as it explores ways to fill in the gaps of this vital infrastructure for sustaining the national conversation. Without such infrastructure for earnest and important dialogue, we cannot bring our nation’s collective intelligence to bear on our collective challenges.