Sunday, June 15, 2008

Public Dialogue in Decline:Problems and Solutions

Readers of my online posts and blog entries know that the dominant theme of my essays has long been the deterioration of our collective dialogue in society.

My feeling is that the ascendance of television as the dominant medium of discussion over the past forty years, and the deterioration of the printed press have created a situation where complex discussions can no longer happen properly in the public sphere. The problem has, to my mind, manifested itself in the alienation and disengagement that people feel with regards to government, their disenchantment with political figures and the declining participation rate in elections.

Although I haven't said so often, my hope has been that our emerging new media could somehow be leveraged to take a role in mediating discussion.

Recently, I discovered a group called the Public Policy Forum. The group was formed during the Mulroney government in the 1980s. Their purpose, according to their website: "The Public Policy Forum's mission is to strive for excellence in government - to serve as a neutral, independent forum for open dialogue on public policy, and to encourage reform in public sector management. Four key factors have distinguished the PPF as a unique organization on the Canadian landscape."

Public Policy Forum Website

Their website seems to contain a number of papers that submit remedies for problems that governments face today. The first paper I read "It's More Than Talk" is a fascinating plunge into the exciting realm of providing solutions using new media. This report was headed up by Don Lenihan - "provincal advisor on public engagement" and needs to be read cover to cover to appreciate the potential here.

I will be exploring this paper and the Public Policy Forum in greater depth in the coming weeks.

Read "It's More Than Talk" Here