concept of Deliberative Democracy has emerged as a major contribution to
democratic theory. Its advocates note that "open and informed"
conversations on the part of the citizenry are essential to the meaning
of a liberal democracy. "Openness" refers to the ability of all
perspectives to be allowed a voice in the discussion and "informed"
refers to the need for the discussion to be based upon the best available
information and arguments.
With the arrival of the internet in the 1970s and 80s and the emergence of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, the possibilities of instantiating models of deliberative democracy have been explored in a number of ways. And social science research into the value of such cyberfora has been initiated.
Today, we are on the cusp of major breakthroughs in both the form and content of online deliberative democracy. Advances in broadband enable high telepresence and maturing experience with HCI principles leads to more functionality in online conversations. And online efforts explicitly concerned with deliberative democracy are focusing on specific issues such as foreign policy in an age of terrorism.
The 2-day seminar brought together theorists and developers for intensive discussions concerning the details of developing and using new tools for participatory citizenship. While there were opening and closing plenary sessions and lunch time demos, the main purpose of the seminar was to allow small group 'workshops' to form around the interests of the participating members.