Talking Solutions

Back in 2013, we threw out an idea during the inspiration phase of the Knight News Challenge on Open Government. It wasn’t really core to what we’re doing here at Intellitics, so we didn’t pursue it further. To our knowledge, the “public participation calendar” still hasn’t been implemented two years later, so we recently brought it up again vis-a-vis the White House.

The two challenges that followed (in late 2013 on harnessing data and information for the health of communities, and again in early 2014 on strengthening the internet for free expression and innovation) were both very interesting but too remote for us as well.

Now their latest challenge invites everyone to reimagine the role of the library now and in the future and asks how we can “leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities”. We see a lot of overlap with conversations that have been going on for years within the library community and in the broader areas of participatory democracy, open government and even the future of journalism and local news media.

Here’s the proposal we submitted over the weekend:

Talking Solutions: Online deliberation tools and methods, built on best practices in public engagement, tailored to support libraries in their new roles as facilitators of informed community problem-solving.

In the conversations with regard to reinventing public libraries in the United States as civic hubs, one central theme has been their potential role as trusted conveners and facilitators of informed community problem solving processes. Some libraries are already developing the capacity to fulfill these new roles.

Talking Solutions will work with such libraries to develop and test a widely adaptable, turn-key model for successfully extending their deliberation services online.

We will run a series of rapid prototyping projects in several parts of the country to explore how best practices in online tools, dialogue methods and knowledge management can be readily incorporated as vital elements in the new roles libraries are now taking on.

See it in full and share your feedback in the comments.

And while you’re at it, check out these other excellent proposals that are related to ours (complete as of last night the end of the submissions phase we’ll update the list as more proposals stream in today and tomorrow):

We’ve been getting great inititial feedback from librarians in the Bay Area and beyond and are actively looking for partners. If you’re involved with a library that’s already offering community engagement services or is planning to do so in the future, or if you’re a technology provider with tools that support online deliberation, or if you’re a researcher who’d like to do research on this project, or a civic engagement organization interested in lending additional support to this effort, please get in touch and let us discuss how we might collaborate. Thanks!