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Helping America Talk

Project Manager:

You might think of a democratic society as one that is involved in a grand conversation, a public conversation, about where that society might be headed and how it might get there. Our public talk, our public discourse, covers the many different ways that we, as citizens can communicate with each other about public matters. We communicate as individuals and as groups. We talk to each other–and we talk with our government. And government talks to us. Thanks to new communication technologies, our public talk is flowing in more directions than ever–and opening up new access points to join the public conversation.

The seven contrasting policy possibilities in this discussion guide are intended to spur discussion and open up our exploration of these and related issues. These broad policy approaches can be grouped under 3 key themes:

(c) Mary Ann Bates, all rights reserved

1. Policies that focus on how we might get people to participate in public discourse:

2. Policies that focus on how people might gain access to public discourse:

3. Policies that focus on improving the quality of public discourse

The seven policy possibilities in this discussion guide can be grouped into three key themes:

1. Policies that focus on how we might get people to participate in public discourse:

  • Teach the People Well: Educate for Collaborative Public Discourse
  • Use Carrots and Sticks to Bring More People in the Door

2. Policies that focus on how people might gain access to public discourse:

    • Here Comes Everybody: Open Up Public Discourse for All
    • Money Talks: Let the Free Market Determine Access to Public Discourse

    3. Policies that focus on improving the quality of public discourse

    • Quality In, Quality Out: Quality Control for Public Discourse
    • Make Words Matter: Connect Public Talk to Public Action
    • Make a Game of It: Use Competition to Get Better Ideas into Public Discourse

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