Deliberative polling has been around for a bit. To quote Stanford’s website on the issue:
“Professor James Fishkin of Stanford University originated the concept of Deliberative Polling® in 1988. He has served as either Director or Academic Advisor for all of the Deliberative Polling® events conducted thus far. Previously he was the Director of the Center for Deliberative Polling® at the University of Texas at Austin. The Austin Center was moved to Stanford on Sept 1. 2003 and will continue under the new name Center for Deliberative Democracy. The Center will focus on research and application of Deliberative Polling®.”
The theory and action resulting from the thoughts has been instructive. I think that policymakers have benefited greatly from the experience, but I am not entirely sure that they have hit the mark dead on. I believe in the nature of well drawn samples and that statistics can serve a greater good. I believe that with a truly representative sample, and a large enough one, the results can help us understand what is going on. And with deliberative polling we can discover whether an exposure to great information will help to move populations in an honest way to a deeper understanding of complex policy issues.
The question I have is whether our newer social computing technologies and platforms can move this effort into a better set of outcomes. What if we utilized social media to crowdsource our deliberative polling efforts. The technology, and actually its constraints, can help policymakers better understand the effect of viral messaging within a population, a population that has self-selected interest in a particular topic via their profiles, tagging or other indicators built into new platforms. As a result the Social Deliberative Polling (should I trademark that ) would also be much quicker and provide much needed clarity within a much faster policy ecosystem.
What if we could poll on an issue, provide valuable information on all sides of the issue and inform our leaders of effective ways to clarify difficult issues in days as opposed to the 6 month periods the polling and tracking polls sometimes take? What are the risks of this? Could folks simply ride temporal waves and make policy decisions on long term issues with short term insight?
I think that we would be better served with faster, crowdsourced results. But I am interested in hearing what others think too.
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