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About the Informed Middle project...


Our world faces challenges of unprecedented scale and complexity. Warnings of economic and environmental disaster abound. Growing populations, and rising living standards, make shortages of food, energy, and natural resources all but inevitable. In dealing with it all we face further complications. The body geopolitic has sprouted new heads. Information is created faster than it can be absorbed. Countless opinions are blogged and twittered in a cacophonous virtual universe. Change is accelerating. Yet we grapple with our multiplying problems the old-fashioned way. With big governments, big institutions, big conferences, big budgets. City and town halls stage smaller versions of the same act. It’s mostly ineffective

We need a new type of approach.

First, we need to engage more of the world’s people. Greater participation brings to bear more viewpoints, knowledge, analytical prowess and creativity. As important, participation improves attitudes, reduces cynicism. We must engage people of all national, ethnic, and cultural identities. Then, to address the major issues of our time, we must collectively sort through massive amounts of information, ideas, and opinions. We must register our differences, delve into them, find the common ground, on a scale as huge as the problems themselves. We will need new methods.

We have the tools.

They are in the toolbox we call information technology. Vast numbers of us are within virtual whispering distance, a mouse wiggle away, a few keystrokes removed. The numbers grow by the day. Through social media we share personal histories, likes and dislikes, tweet our minds. Social media and its uses are evolving. In the Middle East these new tools have already instigated social change. But to tackle issues of climate change, globalization of the workforce, environmental degradation, and so many more, this new technology needs to evolve further still. Along with new methods we will need a new form of collaborative social media with global reach and capacity.

This website contains the blueprint.




Main Sections



1. Issues Handling Today • Why are today’s social issues so problematic? How are they being addressed? This section reviews global and U.S. national issues handling processes. Analysis of a complex social issue from Northern Arizona suggests a radically different way forward.


2. A Better Approach • Findings from the preceding section are used to figure out a superior approach to issues handling. The key is mass collaboration via a network of Internet-based information systems. Introduced here are the major concepts that make collaborative issues handling viable, worldwide.

Presentations



1. Introduction to Collaborative Issues Development • How are social issues addressed today over the Internet? Why are these approaches ineffective? Following an assessment, this presentation introduces the major concepts needed to improve issues handling through information technology. The concepts include two new methodologies, structured issue documents, issue map domains, and the “virtual society.”

2. How to Bridge the U.S Sociopolitical Divide • This presentation begins with illustrations, and an examination, of some prominent social issues. The broader sociopolitical and socio-cultural systems are considered: the polarizing impact of a two-party system in a democracy, for example, and the distorting influence of capitalist culture. Given the resulting societal dysfunction – one with global repercussions — what needs to change, and what, practically, can be done…? Presented are some answers, and a first step that involves today’s university students (who, in the years ahead, must improve the sociopolitical climate or face the consequences).

3. The Age of Integration • This talk examines the progress of human societies toward integration; and proposes that global civilization is the natural destination. It looks at the primary role of Western civilization and of the United States in particular. US movement toward broader social integration is contrasted with societal resistance. Next a hypothesis is proposed: that from the “Big Bang” forward natural forces have created ever more complex energy systems leading up to, and including, human societies. From an analysis of these advancing states of interdependence the nature of global civilization is deduced.

4. Opinion Spectrum Methodology • Introduced here is a process that handles readily understood yet emotion-laden issues such as abortion, capital punishment, and doctor-assisted suicide. The approach focuses on the full range of public opinion, de-emphasizing the polar positions. Because advocates tend to emphasize the strengths of their positions and the weaknesses of others, in sum their views form a critique of the entire issue. From this the basis for a superior position can be devised. The abortion issue is used to illustrate.

5. Complex Issues Handling Today – An Example • This presentation examines the handling by U.S. government agencies and the legal system of a complex and controversial social issue: snowmaking with reclaimed water on the San Francisco Peaks in Northern Arizona. Procedural, legal, and political processes are analyzed to identify the weaknesses of today’s methods. A better approach is proposed: full public participation in the procedural process through use of Internet-based information systems.


6. Collaborative Knowledge Development • To fully address social issues all related areas of knowledge must be identified and factored. But knowledge is ever evolving, and its application to an issue can itself be a source of contention. This presentation posits that knowledge development can – and should — be incorporated into the larger process of collaborative issue development.

7. The Future of Philosophy • This subset of collaborative knowledge development shows how philosophical discourse can be driven by the analysis of assumptions underlying social issues. The talk begins with the anatomy of a complex social issue; and shows how scientific and cultural questions arise that lead, ultimately, into the realm of philosophy. Also introduced is a means to analyze, categorize, and map the work of philosophers past and present. The product will be an Internet-based philosophy domain that will underpin all other knowledge and social issue domains.

8. Complex Issues Handling Methodology • Described here are the methodologies and processes needed to tackle highly complex issues, such as climate change or regulation of the global economy. Also described is the “virtual society,” an organizing mechanism that will enable vast numbers of people to collaborate in a coherent and productive fashion. Finally solutions to the problems of competitive software development and global implementation are discussed.

9. Formulation of Social Policy in the Public Domain • The complex issues handling process described above sets the stage for issues of national importance to be addressed in the public realm. While the actual process of law enactment would remain unchanged, issue analysis and the initial drafting of policy could shift to the public sector (with official sponsorship and even involvement), thus easing the “burden of government.” One benefit: incendiary issues largely avoided by legislators, such as abortion policy and gun control, can be addressed by the public itself thus sidestepping party politics. This presentation describes how a retooled sociopolitical system might function, and how to get started.

10. Fuzzy Logic & Global Civilization • This talk illustrates the type of “whole brain” thinking needed to work through complex issues. An aptitude for value-oriented and probabilistic thinking is essential, not just a facility for principles, facts, and logic. The presentation examines conventional approaches to problem-solving before introducing the “fuzzy logic” approach. This is illustrated with a challenging example. Beginning with the need for air, water, and food the probable origins and drivers of human civilization are derived. The talk concludes by proposing the characteristics of successful global civilization.

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The Informed Middle, Inc. is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization incorporated in the State of Arizona.