We want to turn information into knowledge for citizens
The Democracy Lab is a citizen-oriented think tank based on a single premise: the health of any democracy is directly proportional to the quality and the quantity of citizen participation in governance.
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Long form: The Mission of the Democracy Lab
To give as many citizens as possible the type and quality of knowledge they need to meaningfully participate in their own governance in a democracy.
In this regard, the primary focus of the Democracy Lab differs from that of the traditional think tank. In the traditional model, the primary focus is on a dialog between a small set of high-level intellectuals/writers and another set of high-level politicians/policy makers. This traditional model has certainly produced benefits for democracies in the past. However, the explosion of new information technology and the rise of globalization has opened space for a new model of think tank that is much more citizen-focused than the traditional model. The Democracy Lab has been created to move into this new space. The primary focus of the traditional think tank is to make policy makers more informed; the primary focus of the Democracy Lab is to make citizens into policy makers.
None of this is to say that the Democracy Lab does not intend to work with and influence the traditional class of intellectuals, politicians and policy makers (after all, they are citizens too). But it is to say, that the Democracy Lab intends to cast a much wider net, and its primary focus will always be on finding ways to increase the quality and quantity of involvement by the great mass of ordinary citizens in governance and policy making.
All the activities and operations of the Democracy Lab are guided by two fundamental principles.
PRINCIPLE ONE: Non-ideological Orientation
To impact as many citizens as possible, the Democracy Lab must be a trusted non-ideological source of knowledge about democratic government, its processes, and its policies. The more neutral the public perception of the Democracy Lab, the greater the confidence that citizens will have in the knowledge produced and disseminated by the lab. When reviewing the conduct of the lab, our objective is for the citizen to conclude that the lab has only one ideology—the belief that greater and better quality public participation results in better democracy.
The non-ideological orientation of the Democracy Lab is maintained by focusing on the following lab standards:
- Non-partisanship: Avoid being connected to or associated with specific political parties or politicians and avoid relationships than can be perceived as favoring specific groups of political actors.
- Data Integrity and Transparency: Gather, process and use data consistent with the highest academic standards of transparency and objectivity. The Democracy Lab rigorously monitors all data that is selected and used for accuracy, distortion and integrity.
- Culture of Continuous Improvement: The Democracy Lab is always searching for new and better data, and when the data changes, the knowledge produced and disseminated by the lab changes. In the Democracy Lab, the data rules, and the quest is for the best quality and most up-to-date data to drive the production of the highest quality, citizen-oriented knowledge. The ability to change when the data changes is the hallmark of a non-ideological organization.
- Diversity: Ensuring a wide variety of representation of democracy-connected ideologies and perspectives in the relationships—personal and organizational—connected to the Democracy Lab. The objective is that no one analyzing or reviewing the diverse web of personal and organizational connections of the Democracy Lab could conclude that the lab had any specific ideological identity beyond more and better citizen participation.
- Financial Transparency: The Democracy Lab will have the highest standards of financial transparency to assure that there are no hidden conflicts of interest from the public.
PRINCIPLE TWO: Multi-Channel / Multi-Segment Delivery
The mission of the Democracy Lab requires the organization to process information into knowledge that as many citizens as possible can use to make decisions about governance. This mission in turn requires that the organization focus on an ever-wider and ever-growing array of channels for delivering knowledge to as many different segments of the population as possible. The citizens of any democracy are made up of a wide varierty of personality types and education levels and hence multi-channels of knowledge delivery are needed to reach the multiple segments of the citizenry. Over time, the Democracy Lab intends to develop a stunning variety of channels, methods and techniques for delivering knowledge to citizens using all the advantages of improved information technology and modern neuro-science research. The Democracy Lab is keenly aware that in our age successful knowledge acquisition and dissemination requires crossing the boundaries that in the last century separated politics, celebrity, science, fashion and art, and which are, in this century, boundaries that can no longer firmly hold. Democratic governance must adapt to a globalizing process that is increasingly blurring traditional boundaries. The Democracy Lab intends to be a leader in adapting to this new environment in the arena of message creation and dissemination to citizens.
Structure - Democracy Lab
Structurally, the Lab is divided into two primary divisions.
- Knowledge Production: responsible for gathering and processing information into knowledge for citizens.
- Knowledge Dissemination: responsible for the widest possible and most effective dissemination of the knowledge produced by the Democracy Lab.
- Scientific research
- Data mining
- Citizen perceptions analysis
- Targeted information communication technologies (i.e. Digital Media, Social Media)
- Music, art, film and fashion
- Round tables, debates, conferences
- Deliberative forums