an exploration of American democracy has a two-part mission:

1. To create an online multimedia portrait (in video, audio, text and photo) of a representative sample of American voters, depicting the range and diversity of opinion in a country too often simplified into 'red' and 'blue,' Republican or Democrat.

2. To encourage people to think critically by showing an average mix of Americans thinking critically. The representative participants profiled in the project will be a pollster's random sample, of all different backgrounds and beliefs, and they will freely discuss issues in small, moderated groups online. They will have the ability to ask questions of experts from across the political spectrum. Visitors to the site will have the opportunity to track the discussion and to see a miniature of informed American democracy in action.

Whatever their political views, visitors should be able to find some people in the sample with backgrounds and beliefs close to their own. The goals of the site are to be inclusive and to do away with labels and caricature of positions. We seek to enhance the collective reasoning process that is essential for democratic decision-making, and which is lost in sound-bite politics.

The method chosen to achieve these aims is a transparently presented online Deliberative Poll (a poll where the participants discuss the issues in a group).

In practical terms, the objective of is to provide an online interface (and collateral media tools) to display the personalities and thoughts of participants in an online Deliberative Poll; drawing on the design and research of James Fishkin.

The premise of is that democracy functions best when citizens are engaged and are in dialogue with each other across both sides of the issues. The project of is simply to build media tools, online, broadband, and television, that explore and examine the deliberative democratic process among a group of average Americans.



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