Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Agora

This week I reviewed an interesting paper: New Agora: New geometry of languaging and new technology of democracy.  The paper discusses the need for "a technology of democracy" and the importance of overcoming the propensity toward Spreadthink and Groupthink.  The paper also proposes a Structured Design Dialogue Process (SDP). I'm still trying to comprehend the complexities of this process, but my initial impression is that the SDP would be useful in helping to understand diverse points of view about contentious or complex topics.  I particularly like step b (Frame and Focus on a Triggering Question).  For my Nano Cardiology Technology (NanoCT) innovation, I could formulate a triggering question such as: "How could nano technology be used to treat cardiovascular diseases?"  A group of experts (nano technology experts plus physicians with expertise in cardiology) could then follow the SDP to determine if NanoCT is viable, and if so, what areas should research be focused on.

What's not clear to me is whether the SDP would be better than the Delphi method.  The biggest difference I see between the two, is that SDP has the experts collaborate directly while Delphi keeps the experts anonymous from each other.

I'd like to do more research on SDP to determine where/how it's been used successfully (and unsuccessfully) before making a decision on using it versus the Delphi method.

SDP Steps (Schriebman & Christakis, 2008)

Social - GroupThink and SpreadThink are the results of the way we act in most societies.  When innovating and trying to come up with unique and individual ideas from all participants, we have to find ways to avoid these types of thinking.

Political - The main purpose of the New Agora paper is to address the need for "a technology of democracy".  The authors articulate their belief that we should all strive for true democracy and majority rule.  There are many people would would disagree with this philosophy and reject the SDP based on political bias rather than the merits of the SDP.


Schriebman, V., & Christakis, A. N. (2008). New Agora: New geometry of languaging and new technology of democracy. Updated version 2008. Journal of Applied Systemic Studies.  Retrieved from

Christakis, A. (n.d.).  The SDP Process.  Retrieved from:

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