Purpose of Section
This section introduces a better way to address all types of social issues. The collaborative approach, proposed here, relies on information technology to greatly expand potential participation. It describes new processes and methodologies that will enable large numbers of people to tackle controversial and highly complex issues. The results should be positions that are reasoned, insightful, potentially innovative, and clearly in the best overall public interest.
At their deeper levels many complex social issues become intertwined. Shared economic, environmental, cultural and other factors come into play. Also, the rapidly evolving state of knowledge – with its raising of new issues, and in its ever broadening application to current issues – creates more areas of connectedness. To deal with this, the proposal assumes that all social issues (and knowledge issues) are ultimately connected. This raises a huge problem with implementation. How to achieve fully integrated issues handling without reliance on a single monolithic information system? The final part of this section deals with this question. In short, the answer is to build a network of independent yet cooperative information systems.
A better approach to issues handling must: (1) address the characteristics of today’s major issues, (2) address criticism of the international organizations primarily responsible for global issues handling, (3) factor the global sociopolitical environment, (4) address the shortcomings of national issues handling processes, and (5) factor national sociopolitical environments [link].
From these needs the key features of issues-handling information systems are derived. Successful deployment depends upon cost-related and other factors [link].
The section ends with a description of a new type of information system. Through use of a shared infrastructure these systems create a single issues handling network. There are five key design concepts: the virtual society, the collaborative issue document, issue handling methodologies, and cooperative competition. The latter is achieved through componentization of applications and hosting services. These components interoperate in a four link chain, from issue document development through domain management (cf. document indexing) to domain mapping and issues and knowledge access portals [link].
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