ISSUE – Brief Article
POLITALK’S latest e-democracy experiment is an excellent application of Web technology to public debate — and one that could be adapted to campaign Web sites and legislative battles. Moderator Tim Erickson, in collaboration with e-democracy pioneers Quorum.org, brought together legislators, advocates, journalists and academics to discuss one topic, public financing of stadiums.
Visitors could subscribe for free to the subsequent e-mail discussion, which focused on Boston, Minneapolis, Miami and Portland, Ore., and join small groups organized by geographic area. Erickson posted excerpts from the small group discussions on the main list along with responses to specific questions about the issues, beginning with basic background information on the status of stadiums in each city.
Politalk’s forum differs from other similar online attempts because it features voices of authority along with the average Internet armchair politician, and because the discussion was moderated and constrained to a two-week period. Imagine a campaign site with a similar message board, visited by supporters, opponents and the candidate him or herself — journalists would have to pay attention. The page also features a number of links to local government and stadium groups.
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