The biennial National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation is around the corner. Today, they released the full program, and just like we did last time around, here’s a look at the sessions and workshops dealing with technology and digital engagement in some way, shape or form (emphasis mine).

Friday, 1–2:30pm

  • Opening Budgets to Public Engagement – Public officials generally agree that the most important policy document in local gov is the budget. Ironically it gets little to no attention from the public. The reasons? Budgets are complex and inaccessible and – to be honest – it takes a brave public official to invite the public to a discussion about money. This session will highlight efforts of two very different capitol cities – Austin and Hartford – that have each undertaken their own budget engagement initiatives. Participants will get the chance to try out some tools and consider the possibilities of new tech and simulation-based learning.

Friday, 4.45–6pm

  • D&D Showcase and Reception – Have some snacks and stroll around the room, talking with about 25 presenters stationed around the room who are excited to tell you about a tool, concept, or initiative they’re working on. Showcase presenters will have posters on display and materials to give you. This is a great chance to meet some movers-and-shakers in D&D, learn what’s new in the field, and do some more networking!

Saturday, 9–10:30pm

  • Designing an Integrated Digital Commons for Deliberation and Dialogue – The session leaders have been working together to propose an integrated “digital commons” playfully called The Democracy Machine. This session provides a quick overview of that idea but then invites participants to share their ideas for how the online tools they have created (or the online experiences they have had) could inform the design of this digital commons. The project aims to garner substantial foundation funding to design, test, and sustain a digital commons that will continuous adapt to new technology. This NCDD session will be the first open gathering to solicit fresh input.

Saturday, 11am12:30pm

  • Text, Talk, Revive Civility for Politics and Everyday Lives – This session will introduce a text messaging tool, Text, Talk, Revive Civility, that dialogue practitioners can use to initiate a conversation on reviving civility in our politics and everyday lives. Participants will experiment with the tool to understand how cell phones can inspire face-to-face dialogues and how it can be used to help bridge our divides and encourage civility in these tumultuous times. Participants will also brainstorm how this might be used in their practice, and how they might design follow-up activities to encourage action. The tool will be free to use through November.

Sunday, 910:30am

  • How Do We Talk About Guns? – Can anyone bridge the gap in the great gun debate? Organizers of this session are working on it and in a number of ways: large groups and small, formal and informal, face-to-face and online. We will talk about our experiences and invite participants to share their own, bringing together a wealth of frameworks, best practices, and stories on this pressing topic. We will explore how to productively facilitate conversations about guns and society in a way that prioritizes openness (not polarization), anticipates obstacles, and selects the best frameworks to fit the audience and desired outcomes.


Sunday, 11am12:30pm

  • Building Civic Infrastructures to Engage a Diverse Public in Local Decision-Making – In this era of governmental gridlock, local governments are championed as pragmatic arenas, unaffected by partisan divides, where residents can experience real opportunities to participate in helping to address the complex, ‘wicked problems’ that challenge communities across our nation. For this promise to be realized, however, local governments must address one of the wickedest of all problems: how to move beyond the ‘usual suspects’ to engage, learn from, and involve their community’s diverse population. This workshop is facilitated by teams representing fruitful partnerships in several cities. Each team includes one representative from city government and one from a nongovernmental agency that partners with the city to facilitate public engagement. Drawing resources from ongoing work in Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, each team will will provide a brief introduction to strategies they are using to leverage collaboration among multiple agencies and multiple organizations to maximize limited resources, increase diversity of participation, and transform relationships between residents and public officials. Working in small groups on public engagement planning activities, participants will have a chance to experiment with the strategies– Mapping Civic Infrastructure (Pittsburgh), Conversation Corps (Austin), and Designing for the Margins and for Virtual and In-Person Engagement (Boston). Participants will then provide feedback to the presenters as they discuss how they might make use of the strategies for their own work.

Sunday, 910.30am

  • Building Political Friendships in the Digital Age: From Voice to Influence – In our deeply divided political realm, how can we build political friendships with those who hold different viewpoints? In this interactive workshop, participants will learn the Top Ten Principles developed by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network aimed at helping to design successful civic-political participation in the digital age. Through hands-on activities, participants will apply the principles to their own cases and think through major issues/strategies imperative to rebuilding the center. This workshop is open to organizers/activists, platform designers, educators, and other practitioners.

Follow hashtag #NCDD2016 on Twitter for continuous coverage.