New online tools


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.)

A Carbon Tax on Me

Portrait of a businessman

No taxation without representation, right? So one way of guaranteeing a carbon tax is to impose one on yourself. That’s just what David Lawrence did and he tells the story over on The Energy Collective in his article “a Carbon tax on me: one person’s story of a self-imposed carbon tax.”

(image courtesy of iStock)

Board Member News: Graham Smith

Graham SmithFDSD Board Member, Graham Smith, spoke at several events recently. In Paris he contributed to the UNDESA/UNESCO Expert Group Meeting ‘Formal/Informal Institutions for Citizen Engagement for implementing the Post 2015 Development Agenda’ from 20-21 October 2014. 

He also presented a paper at the conference “Understanding Climate Change Policy” at Cumberland Lodge.