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A new website presents and new opportunity for constructive dialogue: ActionsFor.US (making America better). A forum like this can be a very important in our finding understanding of each other, stimulating each other to new thinking, and creating consensus. This one is very new and will evolve. These are some comments that may help in that evolution.

  1. The following are two forums we've had some experience with, two blogs by friends, plus an earlier summary of what we knew then.
    1. Proboards/justiceleague: 15 members, you must register to see site content.
    2. WiserEarth/belovedcommunity: 6 members, anyone can see content.
    3. William Laney's blog: probably 20 or so followers, anyone can see content.
    4. Kelly Hick's blog: 7 followers, anyone can see content.
    5. Faith in Action: our view on October 4, 2009.
    My point here is that it is easy to assume there are people out there who'll be interested, but getting participation is not as easy as you'd think.
  2. For the forum to work we need to be successful in several ways.
    1. It's got to be easy for the visitor.
    2. People need to see the effect of their participation quickly, even if their participation is just mouse clicks.
    3. If we can make it fun that will be a big help.
  3. I fear the present structure is too rigid, will require too much maintenance, and can increase tension on issues as the visitor sees content that seems to be rigid and contrary to his or her view (or "framing"). We have a challenge way beyond the challenge for most website designers because of the overlap among our topics (issues).
  4. It may be that we need several technologies. One technology might be best for allowing addition of content while a different technology might add to one's ability to play with the content.
  5. Here's an example of a technology that could be more fluid for the user with less maintenance by the administrator. This proposed technology would not be the engine for gathering content, but would be used with Drupal (the engine for gathering content). It has the additional advantage of of being fun and even spectacular so it can draw more people to play with it. I think it would require quite a bit of work to use it, but it has immense potential for graphic presentation and fun. Go to: Live Plasma and type "Elvis Presley" or "Joni Mitchell" in the "Search:" box and click "Enter" (there is no need to give them your e-mail). Keep going by clicking on other singers that show up. Imagine playing with issues in this manner. Imagine that you could click on any bubble and add your point of view, or your ranking as to how important that issue is. The bubbles would change size as people gave them more or less importance. The relationships among issues will be evident as the bubbles rearrange themselves in response to mouse clicks. You'd be able to click on links in the bubbles to get to more information or to add your content. This is far more functionality than is evident on the site, but I imagine the technology could be adapted in this manner.
  6. To imagine the potential of Drupal for creating a lovely website, check out the following (all managed with Drupal).
    1. The White House
    2. The Augusta Chronicle
    3. Popular Science
    4. other examples
No matter who among us identifies the issues, others can justifiably say they reflect bias or worse.

On 3/12/10 these issues were in the forum: • Transparency • Ethics • Education • Energy • Earmarks • Taxes • Bailouts • Deficits • Federal debt • Fiscal gap • Fiscal responsibility • Spending • Spending limit • TARP • Worst Case (finance) • Foreign Policy • Interventionism • Public choice • Natural Rights • Guantanamo Bay • Free markets • Free trade • Term limits • Amend the Constitution • Dysfunction • Tort reform • Banking • Lobbying • Unions • Conservatism • Government employment • Regulation • Housing • Fannie Mae • Poverty • Welfare • Social Security • Defense • Homeland security • Agriculture • Economics • Stimulus

For me to feel the list was sufficient for a national forum I would add the following: • Character • Human Resources • Human capital • Natural Resources • Environment • Finance • Iraq • Afghanistan • Haiti • Foreign aid • Human Rights • Abortion • Gay rights • Immigration • The status of women • Guns • How We Organize Ourselves • Infrastructure • Corporate personhood • Role of Government • Social Contract • Homelessness • Health care • Jobs • Safety • National security • Opportunity (Self Sufficiency) • Violence • War • Personal violence

There is big overlap among the issues, and different language would be chosen by people with differing views. Below is an exploding list that shows how the issues currently on the website were combined with the above new issues to create a shorter list. (Click on the plus signs for more detail. You must enable Active X controls (popups) in your browser to use this list.) Finance is a good example, click on the plus sign in front of it. As a narrower issue, "guns" is interesting as it fits under all of the bigger issues of human rights, safety, and violence. "Haiti" can fit under foreign policy/aid and also under national security (fearing an unstable nation one hour offshore in a time of terrorism). Our forum must do a good job of showing the interplay among the issues.

Character (
Human Resources (
Natural Resources (
Finance (
Foreign Policy (Y
Human Rights (
How We Organize Ourselves (
Role of Government (
Social Contract (
Safety (
Opportunity (Self Sufficiency) (
Violence (

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