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Successful virtual deliberation part of June 26 events
July 6th, 2010

Cross-posted from The PublicDecisions Blog

As part of the June 26 AmericaSpeaks: Our Budget, Our Economy national deliberation, our group hosted a different kind of AmericaSpeaks event … one in Second Life.*

This virtual event gathered people in real-time from across the country to create a different type of diversity…a blend of regions rather than a cross-section of a specific community. As a case in point, we had 23 participants from around the U.S. and also one American citizen who lives outside the United States and otherwise would not have been able to participate. We had five moderators in all.

In SL, we gathered people into small groups, just like in real-life … watched the OBOE video via YouTube … viewed websites … conversed with each other and took opinion polls via phone (MaestroConference) … shared in local chat … and searched for additional website resources … all at the same time. We used the same discussion guide as in-person events around the country and used the 3.5 hour abbreviated schedule.

It was an exciting day and subsequently it has inspired our group to discuss hosting future virtual deliberations. Watch for our report on the day to be posted at usabudgetdiscussion.org. And, stay tuned for news about our future deliberative events in Second Life!

Co-hosted by ■ California NIF Network ■ Deliberative IDEAS, a Deliberative Practice group in Second Life ■ World Café ■ Center for Voter Deliberation of Northern Virginia ■ PublicDecisions ■ Texas Forums.

Special Thanks to: Craig Paterson/California NIF, Amy Lenzo/The World Cafe, Taylor Willingham/Texas Forums, Widget Whiteberry/The Commonwealth Islands, Kathy Eisenmann/UW-Wisconsin, Hope Kandel Gershik/Learning Times, Bill Corbett/Center for Voter Deliberation of Northern Virginia and Beth Offenbacker/PublicDecisions

*Second Life is a highly-interactive setting that allows people to experience the same quality of conversation, just like you were physically in the same room. The difference on June 26 was that attendees sat at their own computers, and had access to their own web browsers to search for and share additional information they felt would help with the deliberation … in real-time. It was unlike any webinar or conference call attendees have participated in because they were immersed in a realistic online environment in the relaxing garden at Third Wave island in Second Life.

Photo Credits: Amy Lenzo/The World Cafe

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