|ARCHIVED DRAFT - E-Democracy
This is a draft.
See our approved Strategic Plan for final goals and objectives.
|E-Democracy Goals and Objectives
Strengthen, expand, and diversify citizen engagement through effective and meaningful online discussions and two-way information exchange on public issues.
Maximize the value, influence, and relevancy of online participation in public agenda-setting on multiple issues in "real" community, politics, and public life.
Launch new forums effectively by attracting the participation of active citizens, elected officials and policy makers, civil servants, interest groups, and journalists, which is absolutely required to gain the sustained participation of more "average citizens" in a forum "that matters."
Bridge the "democratic divide" by strengthening and diversifying forums by attracting and retaining participants that broadly represent the geographic, gender, economic, ethnic, age and ideological diversity of an area. Baseline information should be gathered and recruitment goals establish on a yearly basis for each forum.
Develop effective online and in-person promotion and outreach efforts that expand participation on a regular basis.
Improve the quality of discussions such that most participants view them as open, constructive, useful, and as a place that supports thoughtful and meaningful exchange that promotes deep discussion, awareness of complex public issues, and sense of direction on ways citizens can make a difference on issues that matter to them.
Establish outcomes and measures for forum participation based on reality and focused on the building blocks of citizenship such as increasing the diversity of voices heard in public life through effective online public agenda-setting and opinion formation, raising the respect citizens hold for the right of other citizens to hold and express differing opinions, increased understanding of the complexity of government decisions and competing public interests, the continued and unique online participation of people cross the political spectrum in a single forum, and avoid the fallacy that online forums must directly influence government decision-making on a continuous basis to have democratic value.
Educate new participants on the dynamics of online discussions and our unique model, promote self-regulation and provide facilitation and rules to ensure civility and respectful discourse among participants.
Establish high standards throughout all of our forums while encouraging learning among forum managers on different facilitation styles and approaches.
Encourage the development of new forms of cost-effective online citizen discourse, deliberation, consultation, and events that build upon our essential starting point, the online public commons.
Explore methods and techniques that
promote information and knowledge sharing, reciprocity, participant accountability,
and advanced forms of citizen-government public problem-solving and online
support for direct citizen
Establish the legal infrastructure and support mechanisms required to sustain and enable expansion of our forums such that chapter, forum, manager, and E-Democracy Board liabilities are limited and online participation and existence of the discussion forum protected. Further ensure that the internal adminstrative actions taken have a firm basis in E-Democracy's articles of incorporation, by-laws, forum charters and rules, and universal, organization-wide terms of online citizen participation.
Articulate participant rights and responsibilities, clearly establish the rules, penalty, and appeal processes, and provide a forum management process that limits the power of E-Democracy and its forum managers.
Reduce and limit personalized debate, one-on-one disputes and arguments, off-topic postings, and other activities by the few individuals who violate the forum charters, rules, and overall mission of E-Democracy.
Provide effective training to new and existing forum managers and establish the online facilitator or convener of public discourse online as a new role in society - an new position in society akin to role of a television news host or the chair of a town hall meeting or public hearing.
Promote active and ongoing research on our forum model and disseminate knowledge widely to promote similar activity through out the world regardless of whether such activity occurs within E-Democracy.
Create or implement enhanced and user-friendly e-mail and web hybrid forum software that strengthen our e-mail-centric geography-based online discussions and explore the use of web-based platforms for additional forms of online participation and events like our past online candidate debates and virtual public hearings.
Create or promote online directories of similar online public issues and political discussions across the Internet and support our forum/chapter creation process through advanced technology
Determine ways to connect communities active in E-Democracy with one another and seek technical mechanism to allow connections on specific issues across and within communities at a regional, nation, and global level.
See the Capacity section for objectives
related to the extensive expansion of our forum model to other communities.
Increase the use and relevancy of democratic information resources that inform citizens about elections, governance, the media and public affairs and help us meet public challenges.
Ensure that all citizens have access to information resources based on their interests and location that help them become more informed, interested, and involved with public life, governance, and elections.
Use and enhance the presentation of government and other public information sources for civic education and the accountability and transparency of democratic actors including the government, media, and political organizations.
Promote citizen awareness and use of democratic information resources in a balanced, non-partisan, and trusted manner.
Promote the usability of E-Democracy's content offerings and other democratic information resources across the Internet and through other technology interfaces.
Help citizens efficiently and effectively navigate democratic information sources in order to save them the time it takes to be informed, limit information overload, and increase the overall usage of particularly useful, reliable, accurate, up-to-date, comprehensive and timely information sources.
Specifically ensure that citizens can locate websites of the major government, including representative institutions, media, and political organizations where E-Democracy chapters are active and where such information is readily available for presentation based on geography
Promote timely and personalized notification to ensure highly relevant and deep access to frequently changing information of a topical or geographical interest from the many democratic sectors.
Expose citizens across the political spectrum to diverse sources of information that allow them to make informed choices, form their own opinions, share information with others, and foster forms of public accountability.
Limit the creation of original value-added content by E-Democracy projects to areas where no information currently exists or where the quality of the information or directory navigation experience has not reached its full civic potential or wide spread accessibility.
Promote awareness and creation of civic education materials designed to reach diverse audiences, reading levels, age and language groups.
Assist the media, government, political groups and other democratic institutions in a non-partisan, non-advocacy manner in their efforts to improve their information and interactive efforts if such efforts broadly benefit citizens as a whole.
Promote collaborative efforts, building on our many election information partnerships, as a neutral trusted party in order to foster greater citizen demand and "collaborative competition" that increases the quality and use of democratic information resources.
Identify through research the information-related "market failures" of existing democratic sectors online, publish recommendations and guidelines about solutions, and seek support for E-Democracy-led projects or legal or funding reforms that will help correct the market situation.
Develop, adopt, and promote new methods of distributed information input, compilation, and editing (Wikis, multi-editor blogs, Open Directory/Zeal, etc.) along with broad syndication and reuse of such collaboratively produced information across the Internet and other technologies.
Share unique technologies created by E-Democracy as broadly possible while also using cost-effective technologies created by others. This includes exploring options for use and creation of open source technologies along with the use of relatively affordable commercial technologies that help E-Democracy achieve its mission.
Promote informed discourse on E-Democracy's discussion forums by connecting our information, navigation, and notification options to our many discussion forums. Create opportunities for people interested in the same topics or content to opt-in to an interactive relationship or discussions.
Create and/or promote information and communication technologies, applications (e.g. Citizen Software), and standards (e.g. ballot information sharing standards) that enable e-democracy efforts in government, the private sector, the media, and other non-profits.
Develop special projects and demonstrations that create highly usable and user-friendly interfaces to government and community information from existing data sources, particularly where governments create disincentives for citizen use by not adopting technology or techniques that would improve usability based on the citizens perspective.
Develop model legislation, regulations, and petitions that educate citizens and their governments on the opportunity to make what technologically possible and desirable from a citizen perspective the rule of law. (While not specifically advocating legislation, E-Democracy can educate others on ways to mandate the use of technology for democratic purposes where voluntary use remains limited and inconsistent.
Build the skills, experiences, an capacity of "e-citizens" by sustaining and expanding E-Democracy's unique and highly effective citizen-based model.
Strengthen E-Democracy's organizational capacity and scalability so that active citizens anywhere can join us and work through local E-Democracy chapters to improve the outcomes of citizen participation in governance and public life in their communities and nations.
Develop educational content about the potential and practical use of information and communications technologies to improve governance, community, and citizen participation.
Build the skills of "e-citizenship” by developing tutorials, tip sheets, and other guides for citizens. This includes advice on how to gain the most value from participation in dynamic and often unpredictable two-way online community and political discussions.
Expand the base of active "e-citizens" through outreach programs, special curriculum in order to reach diverse communities and younger and older citizens.
Improve and prepare materials that explain E-Democracy’s non-partisan, non-profit, advocacy neutral, citizen-based model and activities.
Establish e-democracy as a concept that citizens everywhere expect to exist in their community, region, and nation. This includes “citizen-based” e-democracy and advanced online services of traditional democratic organizations and institutions that open up and improve the political process for all citizens.
Establish a system of local E-Democracy chapters, state/regional and national E-Democracy associations as well as organization-wide initiatives.
Establish a selective system of E-Democracy affiliates (non-profit/NGOs, universities, companies, governments, etc.) in order to further “e-democracy” practices and services on a global basis across multiple sectors of democracy.
Develop a comprehensive outreach, development and training program to establish local E-Democracy chapters where active citizens from a geographic jurisdiction support our mission, model and technological approach.
Implement software and technologies that support the start-up process and ongoing operation of local E-Democracy chapters by local volunteers.
Promote formal research throughout E-Democracy activities and establish research partnerships with academics, universities, governments, companies and other research organizations.
Create an organize-wide individual membership structures for those who support E-Democracy’s mission and those involved in local chapters and regional or national associations.
Connect e-democracy “builders” across the democratic sectors through peer-to-peer membership networks fostered by E-Democracy. Leverage these relationships to encourage the expansion and support for citizen-based activity.
Examine and reform E-Democracy’s governance structure to ensure participation among those active in carrying out the mission of E-Democracy. This could include a balanced voice in Board membership for individual members in good standing and by all chapters and associations.
Protect E-Democracy’s governance, including forum and local chapters, from partisan political pressures by limiting any formal chapter involvement in advocacy efforts.
Strictly prohibit the use of E-Democracy’s name to further or oppose any cause, political proposal, legislation, or commercial product or service beyond the provision of educational information on democratic participation and ICTs. (This should does not limit E-Democracy use of ICTs to dramatically open up the political process – it does any E-Democracy activity which attempts to determine the political or policy outcome related to the forums or content E-Democracy hosts.
Develop advanced initiatives where E-Democracy is most established and work to extend the benefits of lessons and technologies from any initiative or chapter organization-wide.
Expand E-Democracy’s fundamentally volunteer-based model for organizational activities including all local forum facilitation by requiring a consistently measured ratio active volunteers to full-time paid staff equivalents. (Perhaps no more than one full time staff position per 10 active volunteers (4 hours a month or more).)
Implement software systems that support organization-wide and local chapter fund raising. Make it easy for local chapters to raise funds online and reserve no more than 10% for central E-Democracy services to chapters and a new local chapters expansion fund.
Seek substantial individual donations for long-term activities including the creation of an E-Democracy Endowment.
Seek foundation support for specific initiatives, outreach activities, training, and local chapter development.
Seek government or commercial funding
only when the mission, core beliefs, autonomy and neutrality of E-Democracy
are not compromised. (A specific policy must recognize variation of the
social and political structures related to government funding of NGOs in
different countries. In places where government funding of civil
society is the norm, such funding should be encouraged when it is in line
with E-Democracy’s mission.