Our goal is to create a new kind of public service that enables local and global communities of people to think together by collaboratively building and editing comprehensive and succinct maps of complex subjects that accurately present all sides of the dialogue and debate from a neutral standpoint, free of repetitive clutter and ‘noise’.
- All aspects of the maps—both their content and structure—are continuously open to revision, refinement, comment, and evaluation by anyone who wants to join the community of thought. Each map is a cumulative work in progress that can be edited and expanded just like a wiki.
- The maps are multi-dimensional to reflect the nuances of real debate rather than being limited to one dimensional for and against arguments—and can be clustered into overlapping debates.
- Readers and editors of the maps can explore the top-level structure of debates and delve onto specific strands or sub-structures of a debate, without losing sight of the overall semantic whole.
- The debate maps can be embedded on, and updated from, multiple websites and blogs; with changes made to the map on one site updating immediately across every site on which it appears.
- RSS feeds and email alerts are available to keep everyone up to date with changes as a debate evolves, each element on a map has its own comments section to allow for open discussion and story-telling in addition to structured reasoning, and debates can be printed for offline reference or to create the framework for a written report.
- Each point on the map can be rated—enabling the map to be used as a kind of multi-dimensional poll or decision making tool—and the map visualizations change automatically to reflect the perceived strength of each point.
- Every part of every map has a direct URL associated with it; so readers can be pointed towards the debate as whole or towards a specific argument within the debate.
- The objective with DebateGraph is not so much an absolutism of rationality as a transparency of rationality; creating a means for people to collaboratively capture and display all of the arguments pertinent to a debate clearly and fairly so that all of the participants in the debate have the chance to see the debate as a whole and to understand how the positions they hold exist within that debate.
- Although consensus can emerge from such a process, not least because it promotes the discovery of previously unidentified options, our hope is as much that the people who continue to disagree will do so on the basis of an enriched understanding of the reasons for their disagreement and having had the chance to test each other's reasoning to the fullest.