January 25, 2012

Civil Debate Wall, University of Florida

On January 20, I had the opportunity to listen to Cornel West twice. First he addressed Occupy Gainesville. As it turns out, he had come to town for a second speech, this time at the University of Florida with Tavis Smiley as part of their Poverty Tour: A Call To Conscience. It was an overflow crowd. After this second presentation, I wandered around the lobby of Pugh Hall and stumbled upon the Civil Debate Wall. It was a panel of interconnected touch-screens. The audience, or anyone passing by for that matter, could engage in community discourse on the hot topics of the day. And the topic on January 20 was “Do you think that Occupy is the Civil Rights Movement of our time?” The screens were jammed with folks who wanted to debate this question. Large photos of those participating displayed next to those responding. And you could take the debate home with you via cell phone, the website, and Facebook.

Occupiers chant "This is what democracy looks like!" I would add that the Civil Debate Wall is what democracy might look like in a virtual space. Kudos to the University of Florida for creating this visionary virtual space. I interviewed A'yen Tran, the project manager with Local Projects, the company who developed this embodiment of community discourse. She provided insight into how the Civil Debate Wall can help embody direct democracy. (Beware of background noise)

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