Recently Techpresident has covered a couple of new online tools that might be applicable to people working in democracy and sustainable development.
The first tool is The People’s Lobby, which is a process for structuring citizen participation to make it more meaningful. Founder Jeff Swift commented, “People don’t feel like the government listens, and the government doesn’t feel like the people talk.” With People’s Lobby, a wide group of citizens submit issues of concern, and from among those, a representative cross section are recruited to deliberate and select issues for further attention, including the development of policy proposals.
One can easily imagine applying this approach through a sustainability lens with interesting results. The People’s Lobby is having its inaugural run in Provo, Utah. (Techpresident article.)
The second tool, called Fiskkit, enables people to publicly challenge false, simplistic or biased news and reporting. Jessica McKenzie writes,
Fiskkit takes its name from the blogging practice, made popular by Andrew Sullivan, called fisking, in which someone refutes an article point by point, sometimes sentence by sentence. Bloggers began using the term in 2001 after Sullivan wrote a rebuttal to an antiwar article by Robert Fisk, a foreign correspondent for The Independent.
Fiskkit ‘democratises’ this approach, making it easy to comment on other people’s work, line-by-line if desired, to highlight both good and bad handling of the facts and interpretation. Ultimately Fiskkit aims to aggregate, in useful ways, statistics about what’s getting fisked. One can immediately see the relevance to this kind of tool in terms of claims and counter claims about environmental sustainability in particular.
Civility, which has not always been present in fishing, is a central concern of Fiskkit. For example, the site will offer a “respect” button instead of “like.” It will be possible to fisk the fishers and in a self-policing mechanism, you can set you filter to see only “good faith” comments. (Techpresident article.)