Deme is web-based collaboration software. It is a message-board, but it also supports "documents", "polls", and "decisions". Documents can be revised, and certain versions of documents can be ratified by vote. It is designed to enable nonprofit community organizations to conduct their business online, thereby allowing decisions to be made asychronously, which keeps everyone in the loop even when everyone cannot attend every meeting.
It is open-source under the AGPL (Affero GPL). It is being developed at Stanford University.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Todd Davies, Stanford Symbolic Systems Program http://www.stanford.edu/~davies/
TITLE: Designing for Deliberation
ABSTRACT: Asynchronous communication tools such as email, message boards, blogs, and wikis are convenient for many types of two-way communication, even for large groups. For small, technically skilled, or very like-minded groups, they can even be serviceable for deliberative decision making of the kind that is associated with face-to-face meetings. When these tools do not lend themselves to group decision making and a face-to-face meeting is impossible or inconvenient, then synchronous communication – e.g. commercial meeting software, or combining IRC with a pastebin, or conference calling as participants sit at their computers – can often suffice for deliberation. But this leaves a large class of situations, which I will describe, in which groups need or would like to deliberate online but do not have good tools for doing so.
Deme (pronounced "deem") is a free and open web-based tool that we are designing to help fill this deliberative gap. It is being built for groups like the advisory boards, consortia of small nonprofits, block clubs, and residents' committees that we have worked with as part of the Partnership for Internet Equity and Community Engagement (PIECE), a joint project of the East Palo Alto Community Network and the Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford. A set of characteristics shared by these groups is very common in civil society, and if better tools could be developed to help them organize, set priorities, and mobilize, the result could be democratizing in areas such as community planning, labor unions, faith communities, service organizations, political advocacy, and academic life.
I will describe the assumptions underlying Deme, and some design choices that follow from them. I will also attempt to situate our work within the emerging, very interdisciplinary field of online deliberation. And I will demonstrate some of Deme's capabilities as they exist in the current, alpha-stage version. A new version, addressing user-friendliness through "AJAX" and a redesigned interface, is in development and will be presented at CodeCon? 2006 in February.
This is joint work with Brendan O'Connor, Alex Cochran, Andrew Parker, Ben Newman, and Aaron Tam.
[fr] Deme est un logiciel de collaboration basé sur le web. C'est un tableau de messages qui supporte aussi les "documents", les "votes" et les "décisions". Les documents peuvent être révisés et certaines versions des documents ratifiées par vote. Il est conçu pour permettre aux organisations et communautés à but non lucratif de conduire leur business en ligne, permettant par conséquent les prises de décisions de manière asynchrone, ce qui maintient tout le monde dans la boucle même quand tout le monde ne peut assister à chacune des réunions.
[fr] Il est open-source sous la licence AGPL (Affero GPL). Actuellement en cours de développement à l'Université de Stanford.