Publicity and communicating - crossforum theatre and crossforum ranging

Michael Allan mike at
Tue Aug 17 15:55:57 EDT 2010

Here's a rough outline of the "crossforum theatre" proposal.  This is
intended as a solution to the problem of outreach (publicity) and user
intake.  It's based on crossforum ranging (maybe a better name than
"guerilla gardening").


    We have an architecture for communicable democracy - a democracy
    that spreads.  So let's show it actually spreading in real time,
    in a manner that's attractive to new participants.  We can provide
    a dedicated facility for this purpose (the "theatre") and make it
    the main point of entry for all newcomers ("users").

Features from the user's perspective

  a) An overview of the entire democratic landscape.  It shows the
     distribution, structure and mass of all issue forests (one per
     poll) in which the ranger crews are currently active.  It also
     shows other forests, but prominence is given to those of the
     rangers (reasons below).

  b) Context.  It will be clear to users that the theatre is a window
     onto the world.  The action is taking place "out there" and not
     locally at a single site.  Structure and dynamics will be
     visualized and interrelated according to the general theme of
     growth.  A new user might not understand the details of what's
     happening, but will understand (at least roughly) how each detail
     relates to the overall growth of democracy.

  c) Scaling.  The user may drill into the landscape to the scale of
     individual forests, trees, branches and positions.  As the scale
     changes, the level of detail rises/falls accordingly.

  d) Navigation.  The user may navigate from structural members of the
     view (trees, branches, etc.) to the various associated media "out
     there": e.g. to discussion threads or posts, position drafts, and
     nodes in the votespace browser.

  e) Dynamic view of activity.  A single glance shows the level and
     location of growth-related activity.  In particular, discussion
     messages posted by the rangers are shown in the context of
     timelines.  In addition, the appearance of new messages is
     visualized in real time.  (The activity of other users is also
     shown, but with less promincence.)

  f) Identities of individual rangers are shown, e.g. by username.
     Other user's identities may be shown at certain scales, but with
     less prominence.

  g) Scope.  Filters enable scoping of the view according to various
     criteria, such as a specific ranger crew, polling area, issue
     type, or whatnot.  (Scoping is orthogonal to scaling.)

Why give prominence to rangers?

  * To give them an incentive to provide additional details about
    their activities in support of enhanced theatre views, in cases
    where the data feeds cannot be automated.

  * To provide the rangers with a stream of new participants.  Their
    work is not only to plant trees and extend the growth across
    multiple forums, but also to attract new participants into newly
    extended branches.  By spotlighting their work, therefore, we hope
    to feed them new participants, exactly where they're needed the

  * To give them credit for the work they do.  To give them a certain
    prestige.  And following from this:

  * To attract new recruits for the role of ranger, so that the
    overall outreach/intake effort becomes self-scaling.

What do you think?  (It wouldn't preclude other proposals.  But if it
makes sense, I'm keen to see it developed ASAP.)

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 647-436-4521

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