Goals and obstacles

The goals

The Knowlective project aims to define an approach and a set of tools to help a large, potentially disparate group to think together and reach a common decision on complex issues. We want the decision process to be inclusive, and favour true deliberation. In particular, we aim that:

Subject to the following constraints and obstacles:


Though there is no magic answer to fit all these requirements, we propose to explore an approach that combines elements of existing informal online discussion platforms (blogs, forums) and more structured approaches to deliberation (IBIS) through collective semantic annotation. Broadly, untrained participants can post unstructured proposals, which more experienced participants could then link to a formal model of the known option. Participants also have the option of simply expressing support for options in the formal model, which should be presented in a clear and synthetic form. Support for options, however, is not given simply as a vote; participants also have the option of expressing their support in the form of contributions they would make to the realization of that option, were it to be agreed upon. (This can also take the form of financial contributions, which would then be treated as a participatory budget.) This should help favour options that parties are committed about. Similarly, commitment against a controversial option should be identified.

This support structure also gives an incentive for experienced participants to analyse unstructured proposals. If the original poster and the experienced participant both agree to link the post to an existing, similar option that the latter champions, this gives added support to the option (or to elements common to two similar options.) In the case of an entirely new option, the task of structuring the proposal could be undertaken by a (group of) disinterested experienced participants, or the inexperienced participant could even ask the experienced ones to help with the formalism in exchange for support.