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Technology-Assisted Societal Problem Solving

One key tool to moving the needle on the societal problems mentioned on is technology for helping distributed, fragmented efforts align themselves to achieving an agreed future picture.

The Problem this Technology Solves

The specific problems this technology, software, and cinematic experience are meant to solve are:

  1. A common future picture may exist without everyone knowing that the power of a common will is behind it.
  2. Numerous, varied efforts taking bites out of obstacles to the common future picture may not be aware of each other, may not know how they need to focus their efforts to optimize achieving the future picture, and may not understand how to connect with resources to enable and support their efforts.
  3. The community may not know about the future picture and the systematic efforts to achieve it that will give them hope, will not be aware of the resource needs in order to participate, donate, and volunteer, and will not be able to easily monitor the efforts and their progress in order to encourage and celebrate these efforts, but also to oversee them and hold the efforts and the resources accountable.

Tools and Features

Main Tool: Visualizer for the actionable community story

The process produces a dynamic, interactive problem-solving model, the actionable community story. This visualization provides a breathtaking display of the problem-solving model that is immersive, enduring (persistent), dynamic, impactful, publicly accessible, navigable, and interactive. The technological piece will provide the following functionality:

  1. Cinematic data visualization of the radially hierarchical problem structure, from superordinate goal in the center, to the leaf nodes on the engagement surface at the periphery of the problem description, to the dynamically updating solution-resource relationships.
  2. Beauty and fun, important for engaging everyday community members
  3. Navigation to understand a story: obstacles, solutions, resources and their projects, and relationships
  4. Read-only – audience does not need to edit

This visualizer lends itself to expression in the arts, music, dance, theater, poetry, and film.

Support Tool #1: Superordinate Goal – Collaborative Editor for Live and Iterative Audience Facilitation

Using this tool, human facilitators help an audience craft a one- to three-sentence statement. The audience participates and agrees, after editing and tweaking together, that this statement describes the future picture regarding this problem – “This is what it looks like once we have solved this problem” – focusing on the desired end state and not on the obstacles to getting there, nor focusing on what actions need to be taken or what needs to change to get there.  Features include 1) Current vs. new draft, versioning, merging; 2) Big, attention-getting text; 3) Easy navigation and editing by the facilitator under the stress of working with the crowd in person.

Support Tool #2: Recursive Obstacle Editor and Navigator for Live and Iterative Audience Facilitation

Enable the community to define a visual, radially-hierarchical subdivision of obstacles which the audience sees as “current obstacles to achieving the superordinate goal” that allows focus on one obstacle at a time to break it down recursively into its subcomponents until the audience identifies and marks leaf nodes. Features include 1) Add, change nodes and restructure; 2) Text auto-size, auto-orientation; 3) Easy zoom-in/out navigation in 2D and 3D; 4) Edit text directly in UI (not separate data table); 5) Focus and re-center nodes.

For live audiences, this is a modern upgrade of sticky notes with a self-adjusting layout for working glitch-free as a facilitator. Easy to: 1) Read, no matter where you are sitting; 2) Move, Group, Combine, Split, Express hierarchy, belonging, and relatedness; 3) Copy branch-wise or system-wide to propose a new version and merge, given audience approval; 4) Navigate within a plane, navigate from one plane of detail up and down to more and lesser detail levels.

Schematic depiction of the problem-solving model
Schematic depiction of the problem-solving model with superordinate goal statement g, obstacles o, solutions s, and resources r.