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Inside Web Lab
Issue 13.0
June 11, 2003
This month's weirdest Googling that brought people to the Web Lab site:
"frowning mac"
"on a beach ball"
"malcontent conference"
"a silly noisy house"
"bizarre thumb gallery" ========================= CONTENTS A New SGD on Men, War, and Love Project 540: Learning What Students Want Planning a "Clean River" Dialogue in Oregon Reaching Out for Dialogue Partners and Projects Crossover Makeover Transcript: Jed's Panel on "Re-Marketing Dialogue" Crossover, Down Under Web Lab at Sundance and Beyond Blogging for Deliberative Democracy SGD Goes to Harvard: Marc Turns Crimson ...and LTC is honored by the Smithsonian ========================= A New Small Group Dialogue on Men, War, and Love Web Lab is working with a group of men to use our SGD technique for an international men-only dialogue about men and war. We hope this discussion will generate enough good material to become the makings of a book, possibly even the first in a series of SGD-generated books. Registration is open until June 15 for the two-week discussion beginning on the 16th. Join a diverse group of men to explore the connections between traditional notions of masculinity and the current state of the world -- as well as related issues -- in a safe, open, and respectful discussion. For more information, or to register, please go to: ========================= Project 540: Learning What Students Want This past school year, almost 2000 teenagers from all corners of the United States signed up for the Project 540 Online Dialogues created by Web Lab. Some focused on hot school issues like detention, clean facilities and friction with school boards. Others looked beyond school, with students probing their feelings on a military draft, the war on Iraq and immigration here at home. The theme of all Project 540's dialogues, online and in 250 schools nationwide, has been change, and students' role in it. In peer-led classroom dialogues and also online, students were asked to speak up about what matters most to them, and think together about how to make real change possible, at school and beyond. As the project concludes its second year, school teams are drafting Civic Action Plans, and enthusiastic online students have posted their thoughts on 540's progress and the prospects for student-led change in our schools and communities. All the dialogues and web development work for Project 540 have been managed by community director Jed Miller, with invaluable support from a dozen dialogue Monitors, dialogue managers Maria Echaniz and Shiri Bilik, design and coding by Nekeisha Alexis-Manners, the dedicated team at Citysoft, coordinator Addison Smith and our dauntless SGD developer Steven Borenstein. Headquartered at Providence College, Project 540 is a two-year high school civic engagement initiative funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. To read Featured Discussions from Web Lab's 540 dialogues and learn more, go to: ========================= Planning a "Clean River" Dialogue in Oregon Web Lab is working with Portland, Oregon's Bureau of Environmental Services to plan a citizen dialogue on issues surrounding Portland's Willamette River. The city has already begun a process of outreach and dialogue with residents about achieving the cleanest, healthiest river possible. The working title for the project is Clean River Conversations. If you would like to receive updates about these upcoming dialogues, just send an email to ========================= Reaching Out for Dialogue Partners and Projects We receive inquiries regularly about contracts and partnerships to create thoughtful, structured online dialogue using SGD, our patent-pending Small Group Dialogue technology and technique. Would our technique extend the impact or expand the possibilities for your project or organization? Web Lab is actively seeking clients, partners, and sponsors interested in utilizing this break-through approach to online discussion. SGD has been used successfully in vendor/client relationships, where Web Lab provides initial services then acts as a project consultant; and in full partnerships, where Web Lab works closely to co-design and co-manage dialogues, and even to collaborate in outreach for funders or sponsors. To explore the potential value of SGD to your own work, or to learn more about our model for high-quality discourse and citizen deliberation, please contact Jed Miller at, or by phone at 212-353-0080. More about SGD's features, history, projects and evaluations is available at: ========================= Crossover Continues, With a Revised Strategy Crossover II has gotten underway this spring, and is moving right along. This round will be quite different from Crossover I — with limited funding, and some helpful feedback from Crossover I participants, we are consolidating the process to be more production-oriented. We have received R&D funds to develop a "hybrid" TV/Web project, and we are currently holding brainstorming sessions with an extraordinary group of filmmakers and new media makers to discuss project ideas. In the fall we plan to start finalizing the strongest ideas so they can move forward into a prototype/production workshop at the beginning of 2004. Names and bios of the brainstormers are at: ========================= Transcript: A Panel on "Re-Marketing Dialogue" Last fall, Jed led a panel at the National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation. Entitled "Re-Marketing Dialogue," the discussion asked how practitioners of dialogue can adapt their language and outreach strategies to raise awareness of this important work in the public consciousness and to make dialogue and deliberation an accepted "value" in our culture. This last-minute addition to the conference, which was sponsored by the Hewlett Foundation, drew a big crowd (to a small room!) and spurred active discussion among attendees and panelists, who included Dr. Amitai Etzioni, Elaine Shen, Lars Hasselblad-Torres and Miriam Wyman. The transcript, available at the link below, represents rich raw material for anyone thinking about how to make dialogue and deliberation more accessible and more sustainable. ========================= Crossover OZ or "I Have a Feeling We're Not in Florida Anymore" After Web Lab convened independent filmmakers, new media makers and artists from related disciplines for Crossover's Studio A in February 2002 (see, the South Australia Film Corporation, a government-funded agency dedicated to fostering home-grown films and other media, asked for our assistance in organizing "Crossover Australia." We worked with them to replicate the model we developed here, and even sent our very own Vanessa Wruble to help facilitate their gathering. By all accounts, the result was as transformative an experience for the Aussies in attendance as Studio A was for us. A couple of choice quotes from participants: "An extraordinary experience. Intellectually, professionally and emotionally, one of the most challenging and stimulating environments imaginable."
"The relationships and process of ideas formed during these five days would normally have taken months, maybe even years, to achieve." ========================= Web Lab at Sundance and Beyond In January, executive producer Marc Weiss recruited and moderated a panel on Emergent Narratives and Computer Games for the Sundance Film Festival. An "emergent narrative" is a story created by game "players" rather than game designers. Panelists included Chris Trottier, Lead Designer on the Sims Online; Celia Pearce, an interactive multimedia designer, researcher, teacher and author; Janet H. Murray, director of Georgia Tech's graduate program in Information Design and Technology; and J.D. Alley, Creative Director for Project Leo at Microsoft Games Studios. In March, director of special projects Suzanne Seggerman and Marc co-curated an exciting exhibition as part of the Florida Film Festival in Orlando. "Provocations: digital art takes on the world" featured the work of Natalie Jeremijenko, Michael Mateas, Tamiko Thiel and Zara Houshmand, and selections recommended by Natalie Bookchin and Brody Condon, among many others. As the title implies, the show highlighted work designed to break out of the producer/consumer relationship of traditional art and enlist the "audience" as active agents. Among the issues dissected: environmental toxins, a history of the world shaped by audience input, and the camps in which Japanese- Americans were confined during World War II. ========================= Blogging for Deliberative Democracy As a committed supporter of democratic renewal in the United States and around the globe, Web Lab is a member of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, formed to connect practitioners and support and foster the nascent movement "to promote and institutionalize deliberative democracy at all levels of governance." The Consortium web site includes a blog with news, project announcements and expert commentary from across the fields of democratic deliberation and civic dialogue, online and face to face. To read the latest entries, add your own comments and learn more about the Consortium, please visit: ========================= SGD Goes to Harvard: Marc Turns Crimson Marc will be guest-teaching a class at the Harvard Design School on July 18. Marc will be talking about last summer's Listening to the City online dialogues for a class called "Participatory Design and Planning with the Internet — Case History: Rebuilding the World Trade Center Site." Part of the "Executive Education" program, the class and the larger curriculum "bring design professionals, real estate leaders, government officials, policy makers and scholars from around the world to address emerging issues affecting their fields." For more information or to register: ========================= ...and Listening to the City is honored by the Smithsonian Speaking of Listening to the City, Lab has been named a "Laureate" in the 2003 Computerworld Honors Collection at the Smithsonian Institution for "using information technology to benefit society." The LTC online dialogues were nominated by Kathy Bushkin, President of the AOL Time Warner Foundation — the foundation's only nominee this year. The case study is distributed to libraries, museums and research institutions worldwide, and is also available online at: ... click "VIEW THE 2003 COLLECTION" then type "web lab" in the search box ========================= Send comments/letters to the editor at
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