Let's make civic engagement more playful

Stuart Browns TED talk is a great inspiration to think about how to make engagement ­more playful.­

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­We are actually working on a paper in our Center for Advances in Public Engagement about games for deliberation, which I'm excited about. Stay tuned.

Tool Tip: aMap - Diagrams of any argument in an interactive mindmap

aMap is short for 'argument map'. The idea's very simple - to get more people arguing by mapping out complex debates in a simple visual format.


Techcrunch's first impression: "UK-startup Team Rubber has come out with a nifty embeddable widget called aMap that lets you make a diagram of any argument with supporting logic in an interactive mindmap. The widget lets you flit from one point to another.

For instance, in the aMap below an argument is made that Apple will flourish without Steve Jobs (because he “turned his personality traits into business processes” and Pixar does fine without him). You can argue anything. Blog or Twitter? Cat or Dog? (see below).

You can also reply to make a counterargument (”Apple Will Be Set Adrift Without A Strong Leader”). But here is where aMap breaks down. Instead of incorporating the reply into the original mindmap, it creates a new one at a new URL, with a link below the original one in the list of replies. That will just encourage forking arguments. It would also be better if you could vote the best aMaps up.

Right now, aMap only lets users map out their own arguments rather than see the relationships between arguments, although that is a direction the company may go in the future. It is also planning to add geo-data to map out arguments around the world."

Public Agenda's Community Conversation Process

Great roundup of the Community Conversation process in the Achieving the Dream initiative. 

Jott the Vote - Messages to Presidential Campaign Via Phone to Text

A while back I started using, a voice to email service to update my personal todo list from m­y phone. I was amazed about how accurate most of the calls are transcribed and kept watching future development closely.

Just recently, they introduced Jott the Vote™, a free and politically nonpartisanservice that allows anyone with a phone to send a jott email messagedirectly to a presidential campaign.

"We have used Jott technology toallow voters all over our great country to easily and readilycommunicate with those running for President.

When asked, “Who do you want to Jott?” say a candidate’s name andleave a message that will be emailed to their campaign. Unlike yournormal jotts, these messages will also be made part of a publicconversation on

The website features:

  • Individual presidential candidate pages.
  • Candidate Jott polls.
  • A campaign question of the week."

The result can be found at I must say, I really like the voice to text part of it, which would be useful for any online dialogue to include people without internet access, whether that's in general or just because they are sitting at the bus station. Nonetheless, it also shows the shortcomings of phone integration, since an exchange of opinions is basically non-existent - if users reply to posts, barely ever does the author get back to them (could be a sign on lack of interest or significance of the discussion too).

Bringing comments submitted via phone or snail mail into an online deliberation with two way feedback/true exchange of opinions stays a challenging task and I haven't seen any case study successfully address that yet.

Politics on Youtube - the CNN/Youtube debates

I was impressed by how CNN and Youtube held the Youtube debates two days ago. The way questions were collected on Youtube and then presented to the candidates is a great example of crossmedia citizen engagement and I can't wait to see more of this. 

You have another chance to submit questions to the Republican Candidates for their debate on Sept 17th.

In case you haven't been following Youtube's political rise, this video is a great roundup of cornerstones along the way...

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