Information Sharing and Learning on Zilino

by Tim on April 26, 2010

One challenge with public participation today is the fact that issues often tend to get fairly complex, even at the local level. In order for participants to be able to lead an informed discussion, they need to have a minimum understanding of the topics at hand.

To help achieve this goal, it has traditionally been the convener’s responsibility to provide the participants with “complete, unbiased information”.

Our alpha version already supports this basic requirement. A resource library allows the facilitator to share links to relevant online documents and websites and provide some context where needed.

Over time, we want to make information sharing and learning on Zilino a lot more collaborative and a lot more social. Here’s what I wrote back in March of 2009:

We often talk about the obvious shortcomings of e-participation as compared to face-to-face engagement. In this case, however, I see a lot of opportunities how web-based tools could be used to allow the participants to collaboratively improve the quality and completeness of the informational materials provided, in ways that could ultimately strengthen the credibility of the organizer/sponsor or convener organization.

Instead of being strictly a consumer of information, the new participant takes on additional roles such as researcher, editor, curator etc. in ways that help educate the group as a whole.

{ 1 trackback }

Creative Deliberation and Learning
January 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron Lubensky April 29, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Yes, participants should bring info to the forum and collaboratively learn from each other. I think the demand for “complete, unbiased information” is misguided, as information is always framed somehow. The demand has built into it a presumption, mistaken IMO, that there exists a determined, absolute and objective Truth about everything. And this implies that only authorised information should be considered valid. But in deliberative processes, the whole point of having it is that there isn’t a consensus view and it is often an authority itself that is being questioned. And even if the presentation is generous to lots of perspectives (eg. NIF study books), completeness and balance are ideals that would be impossible to achieve from the standpoint of all participants. Instead, presume the participants are adults who can make of the material what they want. Allow stakeholders (whether as participants or not) to make rhetorical material available. I’m not sure that it is necessary for participants to be editors of source materials (eg wiki), but they surely need the ability to freely express judgements, clarifications and elaborations about them, be that in a linked forum. If your platform is not yet ready for participants to directly upload materials, then at least invite them to send stuff to the moderator for posting. I do like the idea of inviting participants to take on team roles.


Tim April 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Thanks, Ron! Very well said.

One of the use cases we’d like to explore within the resource library is the ability for participants to collaboratively write summaries of any resource they have actually spent the time exploring. A handful of participants might be all it takes to capture the gist of it on one page.

This is an example how the efforts of a few could greatly benefit the group overall. There are many more opportunities where this principle could be applied.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: