Sunday, 3 August 2008

Debating - alive and well on the internet

Most of us know politicians are using the internet for debate and to promote their policies and positions, but what about the rest of us? Whilst divergent views are all over the web, and self- publishing is rampant, how popular are sites that pull people together for the purpose of debate? A quick scan reveals myriad opportunities to get stuck in.

Debatepedia, "the Wikipedia of debate", is a good place to start. In addition to aggregating the best of current high quality debates, it also allows anyone to start their own as well as centralising "arguments and quotations found in millions of different articles, essays, and books into a single encyclopedia, so that citizens can better understand important public debates and make informed choices.

An open source platform, it fuses the work of innovators from Georgetown University (in 2006) and the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) and has an impressive wide-ranging catalogue covering everything from the Age of Consent to Sado-Masochism and that is only in the Moral category. Set up as a non-profit, it carries no advertising and yet has attracted thousands of users.

In contrast, Friction TV
facilitates debates on an internet video platform. Entirely based on user-generated content, it has a wide range of partners as well as commercial advertisers. It contains debates on topics both serious (knife crime) and light (cats versus dogs) - everything from Aliens (fact or fiction) to the Olympics (boycott or not) - presented in a highly engaging interactive format.

The potential of both these platforms to scale is considerable and if they do, they could become valuable tools for research and education as well as civic engagement.


Chris Q said...

Good post. We're developing an argument platform called aMap at the mo. We prefer the idea of arguments to debates, largely because you're much more likely to talk about an argument you heard than a debate you heard. Arguments are innately more talkable (and interesting) than debates . . .

There's some basic info on aMap here:

Ann Longley said...

Thanks for putting this new tool and way of framing on my radar. Sounds very promising. Will watch with interest.