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AmericaSpeaks Highly Recommended

Promoting the founding belief that every citizen has a right to impact the decisions of government, AmericaSpeaks serves as a neutral convener of large-scale public participation forums. Through close consultation with leaders, citizens, the media and others, AmericaSpeaks designs and facilitates deliberative meetings for 500 to 5,000 participants. Its partners have included regional planning groups, local, state, and national government bodies, and national organizations. Issues have ranged from Social Security reform to redevelopment of ground zero in New York.

Resource Link: http://www.americaspeaks.org

Ascentum Highly Recommended

Ascentum is a Canada-based professional services firm that combines a unique technology expertise with specialized management consulting services. Dialogue Circles is Ascentum's intermodal approach to consultation that aims to maximize the synergies between the traditional and online worlds of consultation and dialogue. Dialogue Circles provides clients with the flexibility to hold online or traditional consultation and dialogue. According to Ascentum, many of the most successful consultation and dialogue endeavors now involve a mix of online tools and traditional face-to-face approaches that complement one another.

Resource Link: http://www.ascentum.ca

Building Online Communities: Transforming Assumptions into Success Highly Recommended

Victoria Bernal, Benton Foundation.

"Online community" is the concept of convening people in virtual space and describes a range of online activities including electronic collaboration, virtual networks, Web-based discussions or electronic mailing lists. Creating a successful online community is one of the most sought after and elusive goals in a Web strategy, and an online community can be a powerful tool to bring constituents together to share their concern for an issue. Before you start planning your own virtual community, read this article by community builder Victoria Bernal to learn about what an online community can and can't do for your organization.

Resource Link: http://www.benton.org/publibrary/practice/community/assumptions.html

Change.org Highly Recommended

Launched in February 2007, Change.org is a community platform that creates a social network for over 1 million nonprofit organizations. Each organization has free access to an online dashboard through which they can review activity on their network and directly engage with their supporters by posting fundraising projects, events, photos, videos, news stories and blog entries. Change.org enables nonprofit organizations to harness the power of social networking technology to build community around their organization and extend their reach and social impact.

Resource Link: http://change.org

Civic Minded blog Highly Recommended

Catch up on the latest in online politics and democracy with the Corante blogging network's Civic Minded group blog. Civic Minded is a guide to the political impact of the Internet, looking at issues ranging from online organizing and campaigning to the big picture of how new technology is changing democratic communities.

Resource Link: http://civicminded.corante.com/

Digital Dialogues Interim Report Highly Recommended

This important report outlines the Hansard Society's independent investigation into the use of online technologies to promote dialogue between central government in the U.K. and the public. Digital Dialogues presents overviews, data and guidance built around case studies. It has been written principally for government but it is also worthwhile reading for academics, journalists, practitioners and, of course, citizens. This is the interim report from the Digital Dialogues initiative. In March 2007 we will begin our end of initiative report and will make our recommendations the following May.

Resource Link: http://www.digitaldialogues.org.uk

Do Tank and the Democracy Design Workshop Highly Recommended

The Do Tank strives to strengthen the ability of groups to solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflict and govern themselves by designing software and legal code to promote collaboration. Tools alone cannot create a culture of strong groups. Hence Do Tank projects address the role of legal and political institutions, social and business practices and the visual and graphical technologies -- what we term the "social code" -- that may allow groups, not only to foster community, but to take action.

Resource Link: http://dotank.nyls.edu/

Do-Consult (Democracies Online - Online Consultations and Civic Events) Listserv Highly Recommended

The Democracies Online family of peer forums.

DO-Consult is a peer-to-peer forum for those involved with government, parliamentary and civic online consultations and events. This forum is facilitated by Alexandra W. Samuel, a Vancouver-based researcher specializing in online citizen engagement. It is part of the Democracies Online family of peer forums organized by Steven Clift.

Resource Link: http://dowire.org

Drupal Highly Recommended

Drupal is an open source content management platform. Equipped with a powerful blend of features, Drupal can support a variety of websites ranging from personal weblogs to large community-driven websites. Drupal is a free software package that allows an individual or a community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. Tens of thousands of people and organizations have used Drupal to power scores of different web sites, including community web portals, discussion sites, corporate websites, intranet applications, personal websites or blogs, aficionado sites, e-commerce applications, resource directories and social networking sites. Drupal is ready to go from the moment you download it, and has an easy-to-use web installer.

Resource Link: http://drupal.org

E-Democracy.Org / Minnesota E-Democracy Highly Recommended

Minnesota E-Democracy is a non-partisan citizen-based organization whose mission is to improve participation in democracy in Minnesota through the use of information networks and communication technologies. Minnesota E-Democracy was established in 1994 and created the world's first election-oriented website. They sponsor election-year online partnerships to promote citizen access to election information and interaction. Their year-round focus is on the use of the Internet to improve citizen participation and real world governance through online discussions and information and knowledge exchange.

Resource Link: http://www.e-democracy.org

Full Circle Associates Highly Recommended

The consulting practice of Nancy White and a network of independent professionals, Full Circle Associates provides strategic communication, online community development, facilitation, marketing, and project management services for the community, non-profit and business sectors. Full Circle focuses on online and offline strategies with a passionate interest in online community and collaboration, and provides training in online facilitation and distance collaboration.

Resource Link: http://www.fullcirc.com

Hosting Web Communities: Building Relationships, Increasing Customer Loyalty, and Maintaining a Competitive Edge Highly Recommended

Cliff Figallo.

A great 'how to' book on the subject. Topics include a taxonomy of online communities and their differing needs, choosing software, facilitating discussions, building relationships, and revenue models. The author knows the territory extremely well, having played a key role in developing communities at The WELL, America Online, and Salon Magazine.

Internews Interactive (InterAct) Highly Recommended

The widespread use of digital communication devices has created a nation not only clamoring for 15 minutes of fame on national television, but capable of connecting to it. InterAct's mission is to help Americans gain a place among the pundits and politicians who create public policy, using the most powerful medium on earth, broadcast television. The Public Conversations Project partnered with InterAct on RedBlue - an Internet project that gives Americans, whether “red,” “blue” or “purple,” a way to connect, explore differences, and find out what we have in common.

Resource Link: http://www.citizenschannel.org/

National Dialogue on Social Security Highly Recommended

In 1999, Information Renaissance collaborated with Americans Discuss Social Security to host a non-partisan electronic discussion and debate on Social Security reform. Thousands of Americans participated in a national discussion with policymakers, experts and each other via the internet. You can browse the archives of this event to learn more about large-scale online discussions.

Resource Link: http://www.network-democracy.org/social-security

Onlinefacilitation Highly Recommended

The onlinefacilitation listserv is for discussion about the skills, techniques and issues around online facilitation in a variety of Internet online environments and virtual communities.

Resource Link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/onlinefacilitation/

OpenSpace Online Highly Recommended

Change Facilitator Gabriela Ender and her team from Germany developed the internet real-time methodology OpenSpace-Online, which promotes autonomous, responsible, respectful, and results-oriented collaboration. Available in German and English, the Internet Conference method features successive phases in which 5 to 75 people can work simultaneously. The participants work together in a goal and solution-oriented manner for 2 to about 8 hours.

Resource Link: http://www.openspace-online.com

Option Technologies, Inc. Highly Recommended

Option Technologies provides interactive tools that improve group collaboration and decision-making in either face-to-face or multi-site meetings. Ideal for immediate assessment or rating lists of brainstormed ideas 'on-the-fly,' OTI's OptionFinder technology polls meeting participants who then respond from their pocket PC, computer, or wireless keypad. OTI's facilitator-friendly solutions include easy-to-use, PowerPoint-based software and portable, cost-effective response keypad options. AmericaSpeaks uses Option Technologies for the keypads each participant uses during their 21st Century Town Meetings.

Resource Link: http://www.optiontechnologies.com

Partnerships Online Highly Recommended

David Wilcox's Partnerships Online site focuses on collaboration, including how technology can help people build partnerships, networks, participation. The Partnerships Online site is a mix of personal observations and insights from projects Wilcox works on with other people, mainly in the UK. It includes blog items, web pages and bookmarks mainly focused on how to make collaborations work through facilitation in workshops and online, with various digital technologies.

Resource Link: http://www.partnershipsonline.org.uk

Podcasting: A New Tool to Plant and Sow the Seeds of Negotiation and Mediation Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Joshua N. Weiss, Ph.D., Global Negotiation Project at Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, Associate Director.

We live in a world of instant information. We live in a world of simplicity. We live in a world that desparately needs negotiation and mediation skills and processes. Podcasting enables practitioners and scholars of negotiation and mediation to extend our reach and explain concepts simply, in an unfiltered manner, to a large number of people around the globe. If 3,800 people have downloaded my Podcasts over the past four months alone, imagine what would happen if we had legions of Podcasters spreading the message that negotiation and mediation are invaluable tools to have in your toolbox. I am hard pressed to think of something that would help our field more...aren’t you?

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/Weiss_Podcasting.doc

Politalk Highly Recommended

Politalk is a nonpartisan forum for moderated email discussions on important social and political topics of the day. Politalk was founded in 1999 as a response to the often shallow ranting that seems to dominate so many internet discussions. Politalk hoped to distinguish itself in three ways: by focusing on only one topic at a time for a limited period of time (2-4 weeks); by having an active moderator to keep the discussion on topic and civil; and by inviting guest commentators to add depth to the discussions. Politalk plans and hosts online events and forums, and provides consultation, workshops and training sessions.

Resource Link: http://www.politalk.org

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