2005-05-09

Augh! Ack! Wait! Hold on, Emile!

I'm sounding the fire alarm. :)

ForestFile?: "You can tell that you are experiencing a ForestFire when you suddenly lose track of where the rapidly expanding "front" of the argument is. You feel that you are making the same point in multiple places. You have to argue "laterally", across pages, in order to put forward a cohesive perspective."

I feel right now that the debate series has become something of a black hole, sucking everything into it. I didn't originally think that the page TopicNode could possibly be sucked into it. But, it can be related to debate by a chain of thought, and I'm wondering: Is there any place that cannot be tangentially touched by debate. Since there isn't, I worry that the debate series, which I disagree with, will consume every topic that we look at.

Meta:

I feel strong disagreement with the UniqueDebatePoint, KnowledgeFromDebate, and others in the debate series.

I believe our best strategy right now, is:

  • Talk about the ideas here, on a single page.
  • Avoid DivergingArguments, by limiting ourselves to a very few arguments / ideas per exchange.

As we find pockets of agreement, we can write a page in the PageDatabase together.

(Note to self: On LinkLanguage, note that, while arguments can be routed, they rarely have a single obvious root. Arguments are holographic, and lead to ForestFires. LinkLanguage can help us find facets of arguments quickly. But, it does not contain a complete argument.)

If we still disagree by the time we tire of conversation, then: Let's take the position with less support, and word it less strongly, in the PageDatabase.

Do not worry that having the conversation all in one place means that it will be "lost." I hope to reassure you: Ideas will not be "lost." We'll put the ideas out into the PageDatabase, after the conversation is over. I swear: We'll just look at a page, and go: "Oh, that's an old idea. We don't think that way anymore." …and we'll fix it. So, it's okay to contain the conversation on one page.

First, I want to make sure I understand right:

It seems like what you're talking about, is restructuring internet conversation in such a way, that it repositions arguments in so that we get smarter about whatever is under debate.

UniqueDebatePoint sounds like an effort to find ways to get everybody involved in an argument under one tent, to hash things out. (Again, correct me if I'm wrong. I'm repeating what I understand you to say and mean, and you are the authority in your own meaning.) The tent is not necessarily one website, but it would be one context. (For example: Google places everything under one context, even though it's scattered all over the place.)

One part of the technology and process that we are talking about, is that it would work to make debate fireproof. I mean: It would make it something where trickery did not work, where lies will not survive, things like that. But not only that, it would somehow temper our emotions, and take out the rhetoric and anger. And good points softly spoken would surface.

There would be some way in which people could live normal lives, while engaged in debate, a debate that would be more like a mapping of ideas, than a tooth-and-nail struggle. People would change their ideas based on what was observed in the fair conversation.

Now, I don't believe I've understood right, so, I ask you to clarify your meaning. What you have in mind, and why you believe it will work and things.

You don't have to know how it will work. It is sufficient to say: "This is something I believe that may work," and "These are the reasons why I believe it can work," and "We should work to construct this thing, working around the obstacles that we find."

You've brought up before that you observe that arguments are sharpened, in the face of debate, and that you believe that this can (by some tech-enhanced method) be honed as an energy.

Well, I guess I'm at the point where I'm talking to much. What I mean to say is: Please, what is the vision you are describing? What is the big picture of it, and what are some of the particular avenues you are persuing? Why do you believe in this, what are your hopes for this, where does this lead, in your mind?

After telling me those kinds of things, I want to know: Why will it work? What are it's mechanics?

It's okay if you don't know, or haven't worked out details yet. Just: A high level overview, if you can. Or, even if you can't, it's sufficient to say, "I believe this can work, because I observe Foo. I'm not sure how it would work, I am hoping that you can help me to see how it can work, or at least point me to people who can help me make it work."

As you have noted, some of us don't necessarily believe in KnowledgeFromDebate, and may be somewhat skeptical. But, don't take this as meaning that we can't be sympathetic to your view, or helpful in realizing it. And, we may find, that there mayt be some among us who also agree with you.

Tangent: I want to say: I've been reading some pages about JurgenHabermas? and the CriticalTheory on the Internet. It i relevant, he had the concept of the CommunicativeAction?. In particular, he talked about things like necessary solidarity when sharing ideas. I'm very sympathetic to Jurgen's perspective. I don't know; I just thought I should bring it up, because it's so relevant, and it's something that I'm paying a lot of attention to, at the same time.)

Hmm, that's a lot to answer to in one go, and I'm supposed to go to sleep in fifteen minutes :)

Anyway, I agree about talking about it here and avoiding a ForestFire (Hmm, I've never been in an actual forest fire before).

general idea :

  • coming up with better forms of debate
  • getting people to notice them - to notice that good arguments will be heard
  • getting people to think about organizing ideas and having fair debate, rather than just "blindly" debating.

However, I am not particularly trying to reorganize internet debate as a whole. Rather, I want to map existing ideas about debate and disagreements. I want to think about debate tools, and why they can be useful.

I'm not even sure "debate" is the right word. Which is why I've tried to move some ideas on pages that weren't directly about debate (MakingUsWiser, PersuasiveContent).

As for KnowledgeFromDebate - I'm not sure it's such a good page. I don't consider it as central, and I may want to replace it by a few other pages. I've been trying to move ideas off it with that intention.

I do feel that I have a bad mix of descriptive stuff ("having all the debate in one place would be good because …") and prescriptive stuff ("wouldn't it be neat if … ?"), is there a page somewhere that talks about the differences between prescriptive and descriptive stuff ?

(And actually, I'm not really sure of where this is going either. I'm trying to fit stuff about debate in the existing PageDatabase, and relating to existing stuff (which may give the feeling it's sucking things in. I created UniqueDebatePoint because I felt it was a common thread in several things I was talking about, but it seems that it started to take a life of it's own. I swear I didn't want it that way ! =) )

Why am I writing about this ? I'm dissatisfied with public debate on the internet as a whole. You get the same arguments over and over again on forums, on irc, in blog comments.

I also want to fight the divisions that exists in politics and religion, where people use the name of the other side as some kind of insult. When talking with some environmentalists, I was saying that yes, I read some right-wing stuff too, it's interesting. And I got "hmm, let's go away, this place is full of centrists". That willingness to only stay among like-minded people, and using outgroup names as a slur seems to me a pretty strong sign of a bad discussion culture (though on that side, environmentalists are waaaay better than religious fundamentalists).

I participate a bit in forums, but some conversations are not worth having. I'm interested in discussing the issues with people who disagree with me, but in a lot of cases, it feels like a complete waste of time. The other side won't change his mind. At best, he may stop using a given argument. The best hope is to educate passers-by. But even for that, it's only of very limited use.

I don't have very high hopes of ever seeing a fool-proof, fireproof system. But one that doesn't seem so pointless would be nice. Wiki doesn't feel as pointless. But, it doesn't seem the right place for debate either (at least, not debate on divisive issues that don't concern wiki).

A lot of this about a divided political culture, and groups that only talk to each other is a bit off topic on this wiki. But I feel that thinking about how to change that isn't as much so.

(Unfortunately, I'm also not that good at expressing ideas clearly, and I sometimes end up not so sure of what I meant in the first place).

Er, I hope that explains a bit. I'm off to bed =)

I wrote a big long response, I just need to upload it..! Hang on…

Okay. I have a moment. Here's the upload. :)

Major points:

UniqueDebatePoint

I think it needs to be dismantled: It seems like we're better served talking on DebateTool, WikiDramaForDebate, … I have difficulty conceiving that there would be a canonical location for debate, by fiat. If we imagine a specific debate tool, then we should describe a specific DebateTool. If we imagine NetworkedDebates?, then we should discuss networked debates. If we are wishing for a battle royal island for a canonical debate deathmatch, then we should talk about OnePlaceForTheDebate?, or IslandBattleRoyal?, or something like that. If we imagine a system of tagging arguments uniquely for cross-referencing, then we talk about TaggedArguments?, or something like that. But, "UniqueDebatePoint," as the page stands, seems somewhat schizophrenic to me.

KnowledgeFromDebate

I am hoping that Helmut and I's thoughts get integrated into the page. Our skepticism goes beyond "Wiki may not be best for gaining KnowledgeFromDebate,…" It goes into: "We're not so sure debate is a good place at all, to gain knowledge."

Now, there are good arguments against it- there are facets of debate that, like you've said, do a good job at producing knowledge. But,… Just looking over KnowledgeFromDebate, I see hoards of things to say about it.

Before getting too far into it, I just want to say: There are a LOT of things being said here. It's not that we can't talk about them. It's just: We need to go a little more slowly. Especially before we start linking it into the rest of the site, and stuff like that.

DebateTool

Again; Some big differences here.

Just line #2: "Because DeepDisagreement exists and may need to be overcome for the community to work right." We're already on line 2, and I'm having a huge difference with it, one that I suspect others here share as well. (The difference, incidentally, is this: Communities are frequently split by deep disagreement, but that doesn't mean that the community isn't working right. It frequently happens that a community must split, and that a split is the optimal condition. This may be heartbreaking, but it's frequently true. Creating a DebateTool because we fear this doesn't seem quite right to me.) And then there's the whole discussion about the terminology, and,… It seems like instead, we should be talking about concrete tools, or talking about approaches to writing argument augmentation tools, or,… I don't know; it seems like something that we need to cook a bit more, before using the LinkLanguage in a lot of places.

MakingUsWiser

It's an interesting page, and I like it.

Many of the MakingUsWiser links would probably be better served as See Also's, rather than whole lines in the text ("This is a great way of MakingUsWiser.") and rather than parenthesis annotations.

But, I think it's a neat page.

We're having an IntegrationAndIdentity conflict here. I don't believe it's a DeepDisagreement. I think that- we're just fishing around for ideas, and brainstorming, being creative. It's not bad; Not at all. In fact, I think the line of thought is really interesting, and think there's a ton of interesting opportunities for action here. It's just: The pages are holographic, and getting confusing, and there are things that I strongly disagree with, and that others (I believe) strongly disagree with, and we should go more slowly on those things. We need to contain it in one page, so that we can sort out what we think, what is promising, and then go from there.

When I introduced PlainTalk here, I knew that it might be controversial. So, I wrote the whole idea on one gigantic page. This was specificly to avoid a potential ForestFire, like I did when I started on MeatballWiki. The strategy worked. There were, initially, big disagreements. But, I think we sorted it out, and then, when the idea was understood and accepted, I started sectioning it out.

Another option is- writing on the FrontLawn. If you want to just feel around an idea, the FrontLawn is a good place to solicit response. But, I don't think that fits your case, here. I think sectioning this all under KnowledgeFromDebate or DebateTool or (whichever) is the right idea. (The title isn't so important, since by the everything-under-one-page idea, it's all going to be broken out when we're done, anyways.)

What you wrote just before my responses was very interesting, and inspired a lot of thought for me. I'm just time-limited at the moment, and can't respond fully. But, I think it'll come out anyways, if we persue a everything-under-one-page strategy.

If you agree with the ideas (about arranging pages) here, then I think that we're done with the MetaCommunication, and can go back to talking actual content.

I'm a little confused about what we should do right now, directionwise. Possible approaches:

  • Pick one topic, and talk about it a bunch here.
  • Pick one of those pages, and figure out what to do over there, talking on that page.

What do you think? Pick 'yer poison!

Sorry, this response is a bit disjointed; I've written it in 3 sittings, and may be repeating points, or it may be a bit nonsensical… I hope not!

I've had a rough day, and I'm hoping that I'm not being rude. It's hard for me to look back at my text, and tell if I'm being mean or not.

So, if I am, please forgive me, and forget what I've been saying, lately. :)

I guess I was just being freaked out by all the new pages. I disagreed with what a bunch of them were saying, and I felt like it was coming faster than I could respond. So, I pulled the fire alarm, I guess you could say. ;)

Have you seen this c2 page? http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?SixThinkingHats Thought on the inefficiency of classical western debate are not new. (There is nothing new under the sun) I recently read this book, and I think it is a useful discipline which addresses some of what seems to have fueled the discusssion here.

Perhaps it would be useful to separate "hard" problems from "easy" problems.

"Hard" problems:

  • Changing a group's core beliefs.
  • Changing the minds of people who don't want to change.
  • Changing a person's religion or politics.
  • Bridging DeepDifferences?
  • Getting people to talk with people they don't want to talk with.

"Easy" problems:

  • Making a neat graphic program, so that people can hook their arguments onto a graph, and keep track of the whole argument that way.
  • Make a system for pointing to arguments and elements of arguments, and creating databases of arguments, responses, where they are found "out in the wild," etc. Futures:ArgumentGraphs
  • Create WikiDebateBase, and also house the groups' understandings of the evidence to date, for and against their position.
  • Organize a gang of KuroShin posters who share a perspective, give them a protected wiki or HalfWiki to fill with information, links, argument templates, and pages for use in AugmentedArguments?.
  • Joining or starting a group of people, with the mind to establish a WikiDebateBase on some subject. (like the EvoWiki.)
  • Working on SVG software, or software to solve the Visual:LongImageIncorporationProcess problem, or researching VisualLanguage, so that we get better at expressing ourselves.
  • Create maps of situations, history, science, etc., etc., that are easy to look through and learn from.

Another thing we could do is analysis:

  • A theory of conversation, realization, perspective, consideration, reason. (The "JurgenHabermas?" route.)
  • Look at things in terms of ThinkTalkAct: "Who's busy acting? (We can't change their minds.) Who's busy talking? How are they talking? (Perhaps we can change theirs.) Who's busy thinking? (Perhaps we shouldn't interrupt them.)"
  • Analyze Internet conversations. Who can change their mind? Who always changes their mind? Who doesn't ever change their mind? Is that for good reasons, or "bad" reasons? Do people change their minds in conversations, in debates as participants, … what? How? Are they good changes, or poor changes? What are the influencing factors at work? (bunch of research here, into existing work, but also self-introspection.)

I do believe that solving many of the easy problems will give us a lot more traction on the hard problem.

For example, if people grow acustomed to looking through argument graphs, and are able to see more complexity at a given time, I imagine that they would demand more from their typical thinking.

If science were easier to learn (and I think that this is totally achievable- easily achievable- to an enormous degree,) then more people will be sympathetic to the understanding that comes by way of science. And with it, recognition of the scientific method.

There are some holy grails. Make it easy to learn about logic and rhetoric and all of these things, and then people can get much better at recognizing flaws in their reasoning, and things like that.

I still have yet to see a good comprehensive guide to logical analysis of argument. I have seen big collections of argumentative styles and logical falacies and what not. What is missing is: Frequently they are disorganized, missing important arguments, or failing to show that a logical fallacy is okay in one situation but not in another, and how to discriminate the two. (ex: "Appeal to Authority"– not always wrong, but many of these charts say that they are.) It all gets linked into a web of trust and process and what not.

I'm not saying we can build determine-the-truth machines. But, I think we can do a better job of understanding and communicating complexities.

Anyways: The basic idea here is that I believe, if we are to work on these sorts of problems, we should identify the rough boundaries of our problems, figure out what parts we believe we can do something about (near term,) etc., etc.,. That may give some better shape to frame additional conversation.

Hi, Aonghus! I've read that book, and the positive revolution as well. :)

Lion, don't worry, you're not being rude :) I think a bit of focusing was needed anyway.

I agree that "Because DeepDisagreement exists and may need to be overcome for the community to work right." sounds wrong. It's not really what I meant, I guess I came up with the bad sentence to say how a DebateTool can address a DeepDisagreement. But I don't see it as something that would magically keep a community together. I see a debate tool more as a technology around which a new kind of community can build.

Hmm, maybe the "debate" pseudocluster has two general topics :

  • Alternative ways of organizing communication, which may or may not be used for "debate" (WikiDebateBase would fit here, but as it's not exclusively about debate (ex. talking about PlainTalk with cw as support doesn't sound like "debate" in the kinda-strict way I've been trying to use). This is more about technology and organization.
  • How to address DeepDisagreement - issues that are very divisive, maybe because they are important to a lot of people. How to get people of radically different political and religious opinions to talk to each other in a constructive way ? How to avoid endless reshashing of the same arguments ? This is more about psychology and society.

Anyway, those are the big pieces I see. I think the second deserves more attention.

Thinking about it, I feel my approach has been :

  • Coming up with some weird tool (WikiDrama, as used for debate)
  • Linking it up with DebateTool, DoubleWiki
  • Trying to find a general theory / goal for all that.

… and, well, now it seems backwards to me. Like buying a neat tech tool and looking for excuses to use it. Looking at DeepDisagreement first seems better. Analyzing problems before chosing the solution, etc.

Anyway. Back to what Lion was writing. I like the division between "hard" and "easy" problems - especially the hard problems, which should mostly be considered out of bounds.

I do tend to be a bit reluctant about neat SVG idea maps when it comes to debate - I think they're more about "propaganda"/education than debate (Minus the negative commotations of propaganda :-P). I mean that they work well in whoever's hands they are - they are for propagating ideas, not necessarily for comparing them. VisualLanguage and PlainTalk can be very good for explaining ideas, but, when it comes to debate, it conjures the idea of who can hire the best marketing team. I guess this is what I meant earlier about the difference between communicating / propagating ideas, and addressing deep differences.

I like the Argument Graphs idea, but when I read it I can see a similar image, that of people going around "preaching" with their argument graphs. Like enhanced Jehovah's Witnesses. What's more interesting is the way arguments interact - two opposing viewpoints confronting each other will mutate and change to be stronger - they'll answer unchallenged points and drop weak points - they'll talk more and more about the same thing. It's that evolution I find interesting.

I can see two things :

  • Making ideas "stronger" and easier to propagate - PlainTalk, VisualLanguage, etc. This puts more power in the hands of the individual (seems to be a general trend in technology - individuals get more powerful, wether physically or mentally. but that's another story)
  • The general interaction of ideas - which ones are "winning" ? are they the "right" ones ? What makes them win ? Is there a way to change the system so that truth comes out more often ? This is about science and democracy ( … sorta), and may be needed to counterbalance the previous trend.

I think analyzing internet conversations would be very interesting. Maybe you could discover that people are ten times more likely to change their mind from A to B than the other way a round - that may be an indicator that B is "more true".

And yeah, this can tie in with trust in awfully complicated ways.

I don't know if more/better scientific education is the answer (education in the general sense - not necessarily 5 more years at school). Honestly, I never looked at the problem that way. It's possible. But thinking about how highly educated people, often from a scientific background, get sucked into the Church of Scientology, I wouldn't put all my trust in education. Or at least, I don't hope to see a very large part of the population being able to make complex epistemological analysis. But then as I said, I haven't thought about it that much, maybe a different kind of education will change things.

Maybe some kind of "practice" may be better. Political practice, involvement in things, etc. But I'm too tired to spell that out fully now :-P

So, basically, I like the easy / hard / analysis division. I think some of the easy problems fit more into "idea propagation" - which may be the way.

Hmm. I have more to say, and I feel I missed some important points. But I really must sleep.

So much to respond to, but right off the bat, before I have time to go into some of the other things, I wanted to make one small note:

It's a popular misconception that VisualLanguage is a tool of trickery and fooling people. I think the reasons why are a little complicated, but basically:

  • People are used to seeing VisualLanguage in particular mediums that have had historical connotations: Text-bound-in-book: Respectable. Comics: Kids stuff. Graphs and statistics: Trickery.
  • The only people who have had both desire and money to use VisualLanguage (superior medium for mass understanding) were PR flaks and advocacy groups.

By "more education," I didn't mean: 5 more years in school. I meant: Less time in school, less time learning, and, most importantly: improved tools for learning. By "tools," I mean VisualLanguage and engineered explanations and testing.

As for those SVG maps- I don't see what the difference is if people are making collections of one-sided arguments in nifty SVG maps, or if they're making collections of one-sided arguments using bullet points and paragraphs. However, I do see the difference between the two forms, if you're keeping track of a multifaceted debate. Many arguments between opposing sides are (perhaps; I believe: ) well displayed in a graph, but poorly displayed in bullet points, or hierarchical bullet points, or whatever. So, I see advantage in using them. Whether you use them for one-sided only, or for lots-of-people-arguing each other- that is regardless of whether you are using graph-maps or text.

This is similar but different: I highly recommend looking at Robert Horn's argument maps.

But, this is all an aside that should move to VisualLanguage.

Our proper flow of conversation is to talk about the hard and soft problems.

I believe we should talk about both of them on this wiki. But, we have much easier time working in the "easy" problems area. I do believe that solving the easy problems would make a difference against the hard problems, in the long run.

I feel we have reached some agreements, we should try and form a wiki page out of them, and see what everyone thinks.

Sadly, I don't have the time at the moment to say what exactly I think they are. But I would look at making a page around the problem of conflicting opinions, about the hard and easy problems, about the types of analysis we consider; A page that explains the general framing of our approach. Something that leaves room for a theory of conversation and resolution (Hegel, Habermas, HiveMind,) …

I may write it tonight.

About education : by "education in the general sense - not necessarily 5 more years at school" I meant to acknowledge that by education, here, we were talking about more than school.

I agree with what you say about graphs and multifaceted debates (Especially after looking at Robert Horn's stuff). I tend to think that for now, less one-sided arguments and presentation of all sides together is already a great step forwards.

Important things for presenting multifaceted debates :

  • VisualLanguage makes things easier
  • Getting cooperation from different sides is good, because :
    • It requires less work
    • If all sides approve of the result, it will be more valuable

Robert Horn's way of putting everyone on the map was to read through the literature and integrate the main ideas. However, where you can find people loudly advocating anything, maybe you can get them to do the grunt work.

In my experience (as a religious person) the hottest debates on questions of religion are between people who do not understand the position they are representing, and still less the one they are opposing. Debate can be useful between people who know what they are talking about, and can understand the others viewpoint. But that is seldom on the internet….or anywhere.

I must have a look at that de Bono book Lion mentioned.

(I wrote this on the bus, before Emile's next comment.)

Well, let me challenge something here for a moment. I think that honest civilized discussion does have an effect beyond just a few individuals. And I think we can hope for much more than showing "I have reasons for holding position X" and "a few simple arguments won't change my mind."

I know I've changed my mind because friends have told me things. And I know that other's have changed their mind, because of things I've said. This was all in the spirit of just sitting together, and talking over ideas.

Effects ripple out. When A convinces B, and then B convinces C, and so on. Many people hold perspective by proxy. That is, they have someone that they trust to do the heavy lifting in some area. When that person changes their mind, 30 other people change their mind. For any given area, there is a parliament of thinkers. Many people look over the parliament, and choose their representative. When their representative changes, the people ask: "Why did you change?" The representative explains why the reversal. Then people either go, "Oh, that's a good reason we didn't think of," or they go, "Screw this; I'm switching to another representative."

People don't say it this way, people don't think about things this way, but this is what happens. People pick representatives.

So, these simple conversations amongst friends, I believe, affect things.

My friend Phil visited Seattle recently. He's something of an eco-nut. Now, we're both from Santa Cruz, so we're both pretty eco-nutty. But, our paths have taken very different paths. We talked about hoards of things while he was here. We visited the local anarchist housing co-op, the Emma Goldman finishing school. I introduced him to the future.

I told him that we aren't facing more huricanes per year, that oil isn't just going to spontaneously dry up one day ("Oh! Look's like the pumps empty! Citizen Kimbro, it looks like you just took the last drop of oil! We're done for, now,") that robots are going to work, and that ICT is very important to what's going on.

Phil introduced me to Napoleon Dynamite. He told me his first-hand accounts of life on the various communes he's been to. He's been to amazing places, places nobody knows about. The successes and pitfalls of different types of lives.

I don't think the effects of these conversations are immediate; I think they take time to grow in the soil of time. But, I think they eventually flower. Why do I think that? Because when I introspect about why I think certain ways, old conversations and stories come back to me.

It seems that convincing happens along the lines of trust. For example, Michael Crichton is someone I trust. I trust him because I have read "Travels," and agreed with ideas in "Sphere" and "Jurassic Park." So, when he bent my ear in "State of Fear," I held off my strong doubts, and paid attention. And I learned some pretty interesting things from that. Now, my trust was not total. For example, he said that windfarms are bird-choppers. That's just not true. (find link on web.) And, there are other problems with the book. But that's not important- we're not looking for pure signal here. What's important is that he got a lot of stuff right. And it helps me develop a more complete picture of things.

If some guy in a hostile debate had said the same exact things, I don't know- I honestly don't think I would have listened to it. My mind would be closed. But because it was someone I trusted, my mind was open.

So, I think honest civilized conversation works. And perhaps: is the only thing that works!

Just wanted to add something more …

I think an important point is what the goal of the debate is - what motivates people to participate, and what they expect to achieve. Who are you targetting ?

  1. Nobody, you're just talking to further your knowledge, boost your ego, or hone your skills (or make a graphic summary of the debate latter on ^^)
  2. The people you're arguing against - you hope to change their mind or at least convince them that people who hold your position have reasons other than being evil/stupid
  3. Bystanders - other people in the same context / comunity who aren't actively taking sides, but are following the debate (-→ see OverHear.)
  4. Future readers, who may stumble upon the ossified form of the debate

Now, these categories depend of the technology used. On Irc and forums, it's almost impossible to write for further readers. On blogs, there's no clear border seperating bystanders from further readers. On wikis, there can be a huge difference between 3 and 4, because bystanders see the discussion grow, spread, and occasionally be refactored, whereas future readers only see the final product.

I think this can also make the difference between "honest civilized discussion" and "show fight debate". In a civilized discussion, you're talking to another human being. In a show fight, you're bashing a bag of sand in order to prove the superiority of your thinking to the public.

So, I guess that in KnowledgeFromDebate I have been pushing for the fourth form - something similar to ContentOverCommunity. WikiDrama may be a good way to present a debate, but it's not a good way to have a conversation with somebody.

And, I like that form because it's the one I'd be the most interested in participating in. I'm not interested in show fights, and there are better ways of learning than arguing about politics and religion. "Honest civilized discussion" doesn't have much effect beyond the few individuals concerned, and even then I can't hope for much more than showing that I have reasons for holding position X and that a few simple arguments won't change my mind (which is useful. If people would only stick to talking to people of like mind, or having screaming contests with the other side, that's paranoia / distrust / hate breeding ground).

I'm interested in ideas. I want the best idea to win, or at least I want interested people to have the best chance to see all sides of things. I don't care who wins or loses the debate, I want to further the sum of human knowledge. So, that's why 'm interested in stuff like DoubleWiki or WikiDramaForDebate. I want mankind to have a better idea of where it's going. That means, sharing a vision. I don't want groups hating and ignoring each other.

I don't care very much for changing people's minds. I don't want to pretend that I'm open minded and will change my mind if I see the right arguments (of course, on a lot of topics, I will be open minded. But I'm willing to say that I'm close-minded on a given topic). But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in the issue.

Ah, yes, another advantage of "permanent debates" : filtering the arguments you have to face. If someone comes up to me and wants to convince me that the 911 attack was organized by the CIA - I wish I had a place to point him over to that he should go through first before I listen to him. Something like "If you want me to listen to you, please use that LinkLanguage" or "please position yourself on this ArgumentMap". And "But I won't directly listen to your raw argument now, because chances are I've already heard it. I guess this is something akin to LinkLanguage.

I guess this touches upon conspiracy theories, and their place in public debate. In two ways :

  • conspiracy theories are often sowed by mistrust - the suspicion that people on the other side are evil and dangerous. Like-minded people only talking to each other and constructing a distorted caricature of outgroups is dangrous, trying to get conflicting viewpoints to formally AgreeToDisagree is a GoodThing.
  • conspiracy theories are generally ridiculed in the general public sphere. Apart from the fact that this can make people hold them even more distant, there's the risk that one of those theories might be true. Ignoring ideas because they sound ridiculous is bad for public debate. Trying to map them is a good way to keep them in sight while avoiding being overrun by kooks.

(there's a similar idea about racism on LinkLanguage)

… anyway this page is getting waaaay too long :) I was supposed to talk about only one topic, I expect I drifted off a bit :-P

(By the way, I didn't read Six Thinking hats, but somebody mentioned it to me on DoubleWiki too, some time ago. So it looks like I should read it some day. I think it'd be relevant to WikiDrama)

BTW, just so you all know: The summary line is preserved. I believe that's an implementation of DigestedChanges. The idea (I believe) is that we preserve the changes to date, constantly resummarizing them.

So, don't just wipe it out; Use it! Add a little bit to it, and refactor what's there. :)

Then again, I may have completely mis-interpreted the feature. Only AlexSchroeder can tell us for sure. ;)

Ah, I was wondering about that feature. At first I thought it was the browser remembering the wrong forms. I've been appending instead of replacing, but replacing when the previous user replaced.

Interesting experiment, I'm curious to see where it'll go.

Hmm, reading some stuff on c2, I think that maybe one of the things I'm talking about is having the debate in DocumentMode instead of ThreadMode (though ThreadMode can be "temporarily" used, it should be mainly for meta-discussion).

(I'm rereading this page and thinking about what's in it and how it could be split up / what could be extracted)

I hope you saw the comment that includes "I know I've changed my mind because"… I wrote it on the bus, and inserted it in chronological position. (So, you may have missed it.) If you do a find for "I know I've changed my mind because", you'll see it. :)

Maybe we shouldn't be putting pages to DocumentMode yet? We've been sprawling out all over the place; …

I'm wondering if we should just keep brainstorming here, until we meet some closure.

Or, perhaps, we should start fragmenting into pages.

Maybe we should make a list here of the pages we'd like to make from this conversation.

We can identify major themes, and then build pages for them, expressing our confusion/ambiguity. Or, in places where we agree, we can say what we think, and why we think it.

I'm not sure what you meant by "debate in DocumentMode, not in ThreadMode." It seems to me that ThreadMode is the best place for a debate to occur. Then, when you're done, you put major points in DocumentMode, or something like that. Related but different, you may want to see AttackTheDocumentMode.

Putting things in DocumentMode mid-debate, though, seems dangerous to me. Debate is hot. DocumentMode is cold. That's how it feels to me.

It took me some time, but I did end up noticing your new coment while reviewing what we talked about in this page ("hey, what is this ?"). I guess it shows one inconvenient of the new change summary mode - the old way, you would have written "inserted reply in the middle of the conversation" and I would have known where to look. I guess I should look at diffs more often.

short reply on thread and document mode : on Wiki:HowToWriteAndEditThreadMode

One of the most unique and successful examples of quasi-thread mode I've engaged in was in a bitter argument against my hated enemy CostinCozianu. Since I refuse to even acknowledge the SOB's existence, this put an interesting constraint in the argument. Basically, instead of responding to a point he made in the normal manner (which would involve acknowledging his existence), I edited and expanded my initial comments to counter his stupid claims.
[…]

… which is similar to what you can get on DoubleWiki - you edit the document mode to answer criticism and challenges. This is for when you consider it more important to have a tight, fireproof text than to actually have a meaningful discussion with somebody (which means : in a lot of cases, it's probably not a good idea). I guess it's mainly for "lawsuit-like" cases, where there's nearly zero trust between both parties.

About the parliament of thinkers : I fully agree, I tend to see things that way too. (Hey, this seems to tie in with LiquidDemocracy …). I guess that's elated to what I mean when I talk about "a place to point to when people come up with an annoying conspiracy theory" - in an earlier (offline) draft I had written :

"I think that the theory that the US government organized the 911 attack completely ridiculous. I don't want to waste any time on it. No, I will not read your 500 page document with hundreds of "proofs", I have other things to do with my life, thank you very much.
However, I do respect and trust the opinions of X, Y and Z. They know more than me about this stuff, and are more willing to listen. If you manage to convince even one of them of your theory, I'm willing to look at your arguments and reconsider my opinion.
… I'd like to be able to spell that out.

So yeah, I like the image of the parliament of ideas. I also agree pretty much with the rest - the spread of ideas from peer to trusted peer, etc. I think that's very important, and that for that, things like argument maps can be very useful.

However, I also worry that that tendancy of ideas to spread through webs of trust may be counterbalanced by the PolarizationProblem. Maybe better communication tools, denser networks of trust, better awareness of the scientific method and the logic of argumentation will prove a strong and sufficient force. When I see this, I think there's a looong distance between ideas. But, I do have faith in civilized, honest debate - it's much less shaky than the weird debate tool stuff I've been coming up with ^^

Earlier, I talked about how there were some issues I'd say I won't change my mind about in a publci debate, and I don't have much hope of changing other's minds.

However, I think that's only true for "distant" debate. Basically :

  • civilized conversatino with trusted people is for changing your mind
  • debate with far away people on the net is not for changing anybody's mind, but for positioning yourself on the general map of ideas.

Hmm, which shows one more element that can be taken out of the ill-defined concept of debate : DebateTool is not primarily about changing minds (though changing minds can be good)

(er, the following was written (or at least, saved) first : )

Maybe we should have:

  • HardAndEasyDebateProblems?
  • our own version of EdwardDeBono - (we already have SixThinkingHats)
  • make KnowledgeFromDebate specificly about the issue of problems and opportunities in deriving KnowledgeFromDebate
  • IsolatedThinking? - about frustrations with, problems of, nature of, groups of people thinking in isolation, not listening to outside perspective - related to GroupThink page, but not the same - personally, I plan to argue for isolated thinking in several situations
  • DebateTool - needs some more flesh on it, I think.

Many of the original ForestFire pages weren't bad ideas, they were just holographic to each other, and getting confused around the edges. Keeping them tighter focused on their core ideas would make them much stronger pages.

We can probably find more major ideas here.

Yeah, let's start moving things elsewhere.

I'm willing to drop DebateTool and KnowledgeFromDebate for now, and first attack something else - mainly because I'd like to get stuff under pages that aren't directly about debate.

I think ArgumentMap or MappingArguments would be a good page too. As in "this isn't about debating, it's about mapping an argument". VisualLanguage (the way Robert Horn does it), and WikiDramaForDebate are two examples of ways of mapping an argument.

I also like MappingArguments because it makes the subject less fuzzy. Debate can be about anything. However, you only map arguments if they are worth mapping - that is, if they won't be quickly solved by a bit of discussion and explanations.

At least, I'd start with MappingArguments. (Not having read his books, I wouldnt know what to put in EdwardDeBono. And I'm not sure of what you want to put in IsolatedThinking?, though I can think of a few advantages …)

(Er, by the way, in case you didn't notice I also wrote my answer above yours (there was an edit conflict, and it made more sense that way)

By the way : I've come to think of WikiDebateBase as slightly ungood

  • first, the title - a debate base is not necessarily about wiki - as they exist now, they more often that not are not wiki. However "debate bases" are interesting, especially from the perspective of LocalNames, which makes them much easier.
  • also, I find that my behaviour when using the pages about nuclear energy is not the same - I put links to pages, yes, but I also say "come over here ! Add your ideas over here ! We want you to participate !".

Define external redirect: HardAndEasyDebateProblems NetworkedDebates OnePlaceForTheDebate AugmentedArguments IsolatedThinking IslandBattleRoyal DeepDifferences JurgenHabermas CommunicativeAction TaggedArguments ForestFile

EditNearLinks: DocumentMode MeatballWiki EdwardDeBono AgreeToDisagree PageDatabase ForestFire KuroShin GoodThing EvoWiki DoubleWiki GroupThink ForestFires FrontLawn

Languages: