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Inside Web Lab Issue 12.0 October 3, 2002 This month's weirdest Googling that brought people to the Web Lab site: "czar of bizarre"
"rachel baker glamour model uk"
"end of the world description" ========================= CONTENTS News in Brief Listening to the City...Online Project 540: Students Turn for a Change Crossover: It Was a Wild Thing An SGD Youth Dialogue, With No Web Lab Required 20 Groups Later, MSNBC Dialogues Finish Up New Faces In Other News: Web Lab Press ========================= News In Brief? In our January newsletter, Marc wrote about Web Lab's hopes that our Small Group Dialogue technique could make a difference in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Since then, SGD has been used for three different discussions that created a safe place for participants to sort out their feelings and opinions post-9/11. From December through February we partnered with on "What Now: Politics, the Economy and Your Life". From February through April Global Kids hosted E.A.9.11, a "9/11 Youth Circle." And in August, Web Lab partnered with AmericaSpeaks and the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York to create the Listening to the City online dialogue. LTC provided a forum for hundreds of New York area residents to have their voices heard in the planning process for the World Trade Center site, the 9/11 memorial, and downtown Manhattan. There are details on all three of these discussions below. Looking back over the past year, SGD proved to be the right online dialogue tool at the right time -- and our work is being noticed. Last Thursday, September 26, The New York Times ran a feature story on the front page of the Circuits section on Web Lab's use of the SGD platform for this kind of civic deliberation online. Avid watchers of New York's NY1 News may have caught separate appearances by Marc Weiss and Jed Miller, each discussing Listening to the City. We're also expecting to be part of a story about online dialogue in the Boston Globe this coming Sunday, October 6. And there's a whole lot more that's been brewing here at Web Lab! We're talking about crossing over -- February's groundbreaking Studio A at White Oak Plantation, and a new grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation!
We're talking about a revolution and a half in high school civic engagement -- Web Lab's partnership with the Pew Charitable Trust's Project 540! All this and more below. ========================= Listening to the City...Online On July 20th, Listening to the City convened 4,000 New York area residents for face-to-face dialogues at New York's Javits Center. An innovative town hall meeting that took advantage of new technologies, it was a public forum for New York area residents to share their thoughts and concerns on the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan.
As the online partner in Listening to the City, Web Lab was proud that SGD provided an ideal structure which enabled over 800 more citizens working in 26 small groups to participate in the planning process. From July 29 to August 12, people whose voices might not otherwise have been heard had the chance to review proposals, debate options, and make specific recommendations by voting on key issues. Participants followed an agenda similar to the one that governed the Javits Center sessions, but the two-week timeframe allowed them to explore the issues in much greater detail -- and to respond to 32 polls along the way. Two weeks ago, the results of the online deliberations were reported to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation alongside the results of the July 20 face-to-face discussions. If you'd like a copy of the final report, see details below. We're proud to have been a part of such an important civic event, but we couldn't have done it without some special people and organizations. We are grateful to AOL Time Warner, the Surdna Foundation, and the Banyan Fund for their generous financial support, and to the whole team for all their hard work - all the folks at LTC (especially Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Joe Goldman and Ashley Boyd of AmericaSpeaks), developer Steve Borenstein, dialogue manager Cynthia Schmae and facilitator manager, online communities veteran Cliff Figallo. An extraordinary team of monitors and volunteer facilitators oversaw the dialogues with passion and dedication. We couldn't have done it without all of you! There are two ways to get a copy of the final report on the Listening to the City discussions: download a PDF file on either of the sites below, or, if you'd prefer to have a free printed copy mailed to you, give us your name and address by Monday, October 8. For a complete archive of the online deliberations. For more information on the entire Listening to the City initiative. ========================= Project 540: Students Turn for a Change As around 100,000 students head back to high school this fall, they are being greeted with an opportunity to talk about issues that matter to them and to turn these conversations into real school and community change. Web Lab is delighted to be the online partner in Project 540, a high school civic engagement initiative funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and housed at Providence College. Project 540 ( creates school-wide, peer-led conversations in which students identify the issues that they're passionate about, ask themselves what would spark their involvement in public life, and examine the opportunities for civic engagement that their high schools currently provide.
Web Lab will bring several thousand participating students into similar dialogues online, extending the reach of the project to students not otherwise involved, and providing the thoughtful, intimate and safe environment of SGD as a platform to explore civic engagement, and to actually engage. Students will have a chance to interact with people they might not ordinarily talk to, and to encounter students from other Project 540 schools. The online exchanges will then be integrated into the Civic Action Plans put together by each school's students, outlining changes they would like to see in their school or community. ========================= Crossover: It Was a Wild Thing The grand experiment called Studio A became a reality last February in Yulee, Florida. Web Lab gathered 43 filmmakers, interactive artists, designers, animators, writers, technologists, game designers, web producers and cultural theorists at the breathtaking White Oak Plantation. We arrived on February 20th with high hopes -- to stimulate collaboration across disciplines, experiment with media forms, and generate ideas for groundbreaking new projects. We left on February 26th pretty sure that we had succeeded in ways we couldn't even imagine going in. Over the course of five days we brainstormed, discussed (argued even), made things together, gave presentations, showed our work, swapped concepts, birthed ideas; in essence, we crossed over. Filmmakers became interested in gaming, techheads discovered the power of narrative, writers communicated without the written word -- and everybody had an amazing time doing it. So, what's next? We're waiting for word on funding for Studio B, the lab in which Studio A participants will develop projects they came up with at or since Studio A. More details on that to come soon, but first... Some excellent Crossover news: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently made a $100,000 grant to support the next Crossover cycle! We still need to raise additional funding before it's a "go," but this is certainly a great start, and a great vote of confidence for this project. ========================= An SGD Youth Dialogue, With No Web Lab Required This past March, dialogue guru emeritus Barry Joseph launched the first youth dialogue using Web Lab's Small Group Dialogue platform. Barry is now the New Voices Fellow at Global Kids, and built an impressive coalition of youth sites for a discussion entitled "Everything After: A 9/11 Youth Circle" This was also the first SGD launched by an organization other than Web Lab, but look for more in the coming year. This peer discussion about life since September's attacks was a remarkable chance for kids to share their experiences and opinions. Web Lab was delighted to see Barry and his team of youth monitors make this happen, and was glad to donate some time and resources to the effort. Funding for E.A.9.11 was provided by The Surdna Foundation, and PBS and YouthNOISE were lead partners in the project. You'll find an archive of the dialogue and more about Global Kids at the Global Kids site. ========================= 20 Groups Later, MSNBC Dialogues Finish Up In February we wrapped up our three-month dialogues on -- "What Now? Politics, the Economy and Your Life." More than 1000 participants brought their personal stories and diverse viewpoints to topics ranging from the war in Afghanistan and Middle East violence, to civil liberties at home, to Enron and the recession, to rebuilding our lives and the nation following the September 11 attacks. Our greatest goal was to provide public forums for respectful and honest dialogue about the issues that mattered most to us in the aftermath, and the results confirmed our best hopes for both the candor and caliber of the discussions. This was a high-profile, high-pressure debut of "version 4" of our SGD software, and the tool's success paved the way for both E.A.9.11 and the Listening to the City dialogues. Check out Lisa Napoli's article on And you'll find an archive of the discussions here. ========================= New Faces Tony Thompson On Board We are delighted to welcome Carlton ("Tony") Thompson as a new board member of Digital Innovations Group, Inc., Web Lab's parent organization. For many years, Tony was Managing Director of the Communications Industry Practice at Spencer Stuart, the world's largest privately-owned global executive recruiting firm. Our Wonderful Web Intern
We're always happy to have new people aboard, and Nekeisha Alexis-Manners gives us plenty to be happy about. A recent graduate of New York University with a degree in Africana Studies and Computer Applications, Nekeisha wants to use her skills to benefit arts and activist organizations in the non-profit sector. Originally a Trinidadian native, she now calls Manhattan home. Many of the updates on our site are her doing, and her work has been vital to the success of both Listening to the City and Project 540. Thanks for all your hard work, Nekeisha!!! ========================= In Other News: Web Lab Press Web Lab is continuing to draw press attention for its work. An excellent four-page article in E-Content Magazine took an in-depth look at Small Group Dialogues and their effectiveness in minimizing "flaming" online. Crossover was the topic of a feature in @NY. And finally, what do a good documentary film and online community have in common? You can find out, in Renee Lertzman's interview with Marc Weiss, featured in the Feb. 4 issue of the Online Community Report. ========================= Send comments/letters to the editor at
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