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Discussion Society Details
  • We are not entirely ourselves online. Personality does not communicate itself in the same way through email or discussion forum comments as it does through face to face discussion. The civility that naturally arises when people discuss matters in person is missing, causing people to misspeak and to misrepresent themselves - with the results frozen in public forever.

  • The Discussion Society is an association of local people meeting in-person to study, discuss, and debate public policy matters in small groups. It would use live discussion, both ad hoc and planned, combined with an online regional knowledge base to collect, compile, organize, and report information and points of view on regional social, cultural, economic, and governmental concerns.

  • All interaction among participants would be in-person. There would be no online chat rooms or discussion forums, nor links to social media. Conversations and debates should be seen as social occasions and include food and drink whenever possible. The quality of the event should be measured as much by its enjoyment of the moment by the participants as by its results.

  • Discussions would be civic by nature rather than political. That is, the focus would be on a rational, reasonable, and thorough public discussion of a topic of common concern and its related ideas. Once the non-political discourse and debate on a topic of concern would conclude, discussion of political solutions would begin, including connecting the positions of candidates and political parties to the topics.

  • The discussions would be semi-formal in that they would use both a process and a protocol. The process would be the system of selecting and presenting a concern, as well as providing support materials and argument guidelines. The protocol would include staying on topic, following a logical argument path, and avoiding all personal references.

  • A goal of the discussions would be achieving mutual understanding among participants and not the changing of minds. The give and take should be respectful, impersonal, and focused on facts - with participants mindful that all points of view get reported out anyway and are then adjudged on their merits through ranked voting.


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    Conversation Groups
  • A gathering of project participants who meet to discuss a topic question is a Conversation Group. The groups could meet either at scheduled times or spontaneously.
  • Ideal locations for Conversation Groups would be comfortable, low key social, cultural, and entertainment settings where people can feel at ease. Some examples would be library meeting rooms, churches, and restaurants.
  • The groups would be small to promote civility and to give all participants an opportunity to express themselves fully. Not all points of view need to be represented: Standard Positions covering all points of view on the topic are provided for review and devils advocacy.
  • It's expected that participants in the discussion of a topic would have reviewed the source materials at the topic portal in the Knowledge Base beforehand, enabling a common understanding - not necessarily agreement - of the source materials.
  • Study Teams
  • Study Teams form either to prepare for a debate or as a collaboration among the topic knowledge teams. There is no process or protocol to their operation.
  • Debates
  • Debates would be formal events that would use the BBC Question Time format. Representatives from Study Teams would present arguments on the topic question from the dais and then would take questions from the audience members.