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Comments on the Respectful Disagreement discussion

A picture named florida.jpgI've read some of the comments on the BlogNashville session, and the people who are posting appear to be the small number of people (of those who were actually there) who dominated the discussion. As was clear in the post-session discussion, and in the hotel lobby afterward, at least a few of the people in the room were interested in hearing from people who disagreed with their point of view. That's why they came, and of course that was the purpose of the session. The four or five who dominated wouldn't let them speak. In that sense it modeled an Internet mail list perfectly. Eventually I did sit down, and even that wasn't good enough for the nasty folk. I should have asked them what they wanted. Next time, if there is a next time, maybe I will. Regardless, the good news is that a lot of people do want to work together, and it will indeed be hard work, because there are some very vocal people who don't want us to.

Missed opportunity. When the guy named Stan laughed at me when I said our economy was in trouble and we should work together, as Americans, to help our country, I should have said, never mind whether you think it is or isn't, because that wasn't the point. What if our country needed us to work together in order to survive? That's happened before, for sure, right? Well if that happened, wouldn't you want to know we could work together? And wouldn't we be stronger if we started doing that now, even if it isn't (as you believe) a time of need for our country?

The bottom line -- we got lost in the disrespect. I'm sure we disagreed, but I'm not sure what the disagreement was. We learned that some people demand all the attention. Until we get them to sit down, we're going to keep fighting each other in the US. To me this is the biggest shame, it's so incredibly sad. We have the potential for greatness, and it's going to waste.

# Posted by Dave Winer on 5/8/05; 8:31:10 PM - --

List of shared values from the Respectful Disagreement discussion

My goal at yesterday's session at BlogNashville was to see if we could generate a list of shared values for bloggers of all political persuasions, colors, backgrounds, nationalities, whatever. When we started making the list I asked Kevin Howarth to take notes. He did a bang-up job. Here are his notes. DW

Hello Dave,

Wonderful, unique session today. I hope these notes are useful to you. I tried to distill the shared values elicited from the discussion.

Personally, I also "got" what you were doing today. I probably thought more in your session than in all the other sessions combined, and that's no insult to the other sessions. I'm a Neil Young fan, and I see you and him operating in similar fashions (albeit in different worlds) to produce something of value. Sometimes it takes a bit of gumption to get our brains working better, and I appreciate you having the courage to do so.



"A Respectful Disagreement" May 7, 2005
Moderated by Dave Winer

Through both the social experiment of challenging an audience of bloggers to respectfully disagree with one another, and by asking for a set of shared values that may be suggested as guidelines for the blogging community, the following notes suggest how the discussion did bear fruit. A set of shared values was reached, although all did not receive a full consensus. All are shared, and I suppose all are open for debate and dialogue.

Shared values:

1. Transparency. You are who you appear to be. It is clear where the blogger's agenda and opinions are coming from, and there is an ability to clearly evaluate a blogger's conclusions.

2. Accountability. If you screw up, say so. Bloggers should do their best to rely on accountable sources. If those sources were/are not accurate, admit it. (However, did people ever not do that before? Is that necessarily new to blogging?)

3. Creativity. Blogging encourages unique content that gathers together niche audiences (communities) and provides a focal point for conversation. Not all blogging, for example, is journalistic reporting about a particular topic. The quality, tone and style of the writing, in addition to the unique authorial self-expression, creates a unique form of communicating different from previous forms.

4. Passion and Personality. A human enthusiasm radiates from a blog. For example, in today's discussion, many did not speak in the audience whereas, in a blog, all personalities have a higher probability of participating in a discussion. There is also a difference in having emotion, which is healthy, versus being emotionally unstable, which is not.

5. Disagree without being disagreeable, leaving dignity intact. For example, there is a tendency in discussions for the loudest voice to own the floor, rather than the person/expert with the most relevant content. Also, blogging (like law) is inherently adversorial. Thus, the best bloggers practice and demonstrate politeness and good manners.

6. Debate or dialogue clarity. Good bloggers make it clear when they invite debate (e.g. well reasoned posts clarifying a position) or dialogue (e.g. asking a question or introducing a topic to invite an inflow of information).

7. Link to blogs that respectfully disagree with you. We have a human tendency to seek out "echo chamber" ideas which cut off healthy debate and dialogue in a blog. Blogging can easily be conducive to the creation of one's own little world, rather than inviting respectfully disagreeing comments that strengthen a discussion.

8. In a mannerly fashion, call unmannerly bloggers on their lack of respect. If flaming and insults are tolerated, they are thus encouraged. Strategies should be used when appropriate to help eliminate such rudeness.

9. Listen when your peers say you are out of line.

10. Emphasize (almost in an Eastern sense) conversation, engagement, dance, romance, kicking around ideas. (Not binary right/wrong mentality.)

11. If it is incendiary, don't post it. If you wouldn't say it to that person over a cup of coffee, don't post it.

12. Support America and American values. Blogging gives First Amendment and Constitutional rights an excellent territory to be tested and strengthened, further solidifying one of the strongest democracies in the history of civilization. We can listen to each other if we want. As Americans, we play on the same team and we are a lot stronger if we work together.

13. Skillful moderation. Handling trolls, praising intelligent (and dissenting) posts, balancing a discussion with an appropriate amount of blogger's and reader's comments, etc.

14. Forgiveness. We all make mistakes. Learn to forgive, especially if someone apologizes sincerely.

Kevin Howarth
Managing Editor, TechLINKS

# Posted by Dave Winer on 5/8/05; 9:52:59 AM - --


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