an exploration of American democracy



Invitation to Support the Project


The premise: Democracy breaks down when citizens give up reasoned thinking and dialogue.

The project that we are working on is designed to bring average Americans, from red states and blue states, together in mixed groups to talk about the issues and get to know one another.

At the core, we are adding the idea of deliberative polling (as developed by the political scientist James Fishkin at Stanford University) to the interactive visual potential of broadband internet. adds a simple idea to the deliberative poll: wouldn't it be great if you could take a look at the electoral map (as in the detailed, county level maps from the past election) and be able to click anywhere on it across the country and have a person pop up, someone that you can learn about in depth, with a personal photoblog and video.

The idea is to attach real faces and lives to the map. And then put those people into direct, enlightened conversation with each other.

The beneficial effects of dialogue are well documented. We would provide a free, continuous online service that tracks this model of representative democracy in action.

There are no technical obstacles to this concept, and we already have several media professionals interested in the execution. But it needs funding and supervision -- and your thoughts and influence would help bring us closer to the goal.

A description of deliberative polling from a recent article in the NY Times: "This is a picture of what democracy could be like if people had a dialogue and heard more than the usual campaign sound bites."

Thanks for taking a look and letting us know what you think. We look forward to answering any of your questions, or hearing your suggestions.

We think this is an important time to get to work on tools that strengthen informed democracy.

best regards,

Richard Reiss, William Dowell, Daniel Jacobson, Seema Shah


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