Opinion Space: A New Tool for 21st Century Statecraft

Posted by Katie Dowd
March 15, 2010
Opinion Space Screenshot

About the Author: Katie Dowd serves as New Media Director at the U.S. Department of State.

Today, I am so excited to announce the arrival of a new State Department project called Opinion Space. Opinion Space is an innovative, interactive online tool we are launching in partnership with the University of California at Berkeley Center for New Media. Accessible to anyone around the world, Opinion Space solicits fresh perspectives on U.S. foreign policy and incorporates users' input into a creative visual display, based on the wisdom of crowds, to identify insightful ideas. You can find Opinion Space at www.state.gov/opinionspace.

During her recent speech on Internet Freedom, Secretary Clinton said, "[T]he Internet is a network that magnifies the power and potential of all others. And that's why we believe it's critical that its users are assured certain basic freedoms. Freedom of expression...is no longer defined solely by whether citizens can go into the town square and criticize their government without fear of retribution. Blogs, emails, social networks, and text messages have opened up new forums for exchanging ideas....”

With Opinion Space, we are experimenting to open a new forum to exchange ideas and share opinions, to bring together people around the world to discuss some of the critical issues facing us today, and to encourage the development of communities that can listen to one another, agree to disagree and hopefully learn from one another.

So, how does Opinion Space work? Well, to get started you provide your opinion to several questions based on a range of foreign policy issues. Based on your responses, your point of view is plotted on a global opinion map. Your position, marked by a yellow circle, is based on similarity of opinion: those who agree on basic issues are neighbors, those who are far apart have agreed to disagree. You can instantly see where you stand in relation to other participants on the map. Then, by reviewing comments from others, you help the community highlight the most insightful ideas.

A participatory culture thrives on the sharing of opinions among people over networks. We hope you will engage in this experiment with us, learn with us, and let us know what you think. We will keep you up to date as the experiment unfolds , and what we are learning.

Each month, we will introduce new discussion questions to foster community participation. Everyone in the community will have differing ideas and opinions, and you will see that even those nearest to you might agree on some basic foreign policy issues but might disagree on a response to the discussion question. This month, we ask: If you met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, what issue would you tell her about, why is it important to you, and what specific suggestions do you have for addressing it?

Let us know your thoughts by joining the discussion on www.state.gov/opinionspace and tell your friends on Twitter using #opinionspace.

Comments

Comments

Armstrong
|
United Kingdom
March 15, 2010

Armstrong in the United Kingdom writes:

What a high tech tool this is!! 3D specs required? Actually, have yet to figure out how it works but it does look interesting. Need to find a space in my timetable.

Enjoy your trip to Moscow.

Masood
|
California, USA
March 15, 2010

Masood in California writes:

Excellent idea! It will provide valuable insight as to what people are thinking are the world.

Sam
|
California, USA
March 16, 2010

Sam in California writes:

Dear Madam Secreatary,

Thank you for your courage to stand up for America's interest despite the expected pressure from the strong Israeli lobby (AIPAC) that were successfully able to virtually control Congress for years even on issues that will jeopardize our country's interest and image abroad.

Donald M.
|
Virginia, USA
March 16, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

3 16 10

How in the world is the United States going to tell Israel what to do or Palestine? It's very simple even a child can understand that two groups of people do NOT like each other and living next to one other only brings chaos and fighting. It's just like in school, when you have two parties fighting, in order to break it up safely, is removing one Party from the area. You can't have your cake and eat it too... Bottom line is Palestine or Israel will one day have to pack up and move on out. You spend billions of dollars and then you tell these Nations what to do, how to act...but they will both fight to survive for freedom. All the envoy's and smart people on earth, wont convince either side from giving up the tensions, the land, war, and the path of destruction between each other. The only true solution to this problem, is removing one group safely to a new location. Then you have Freedom and Peace between these two Nations. Palestinians do not want to move out? It was written in our King James bible that the land where Israel presides belongs to them, instead of giving Palestine millions of dollars, why not just give them the money and tell them to pack up and move on out. Your hearts are in the right place, but your noggin isn't working. There will be only room for growth with ONE Nation in that spot. Keep on your current path and see if it works? Doubtful, insults to Vice President Biden, it's not the USA, it's the Holy Land of Israel. Hopefully, someone will start using there noggin... A two state solution won't work, hasn't worked, and will NEVER work between these Nations. The true insult is trying to put a square plug in a round hole. "It just won't work."

The State Department and President Barack Obama's plan to send envoys to countries is ridiculous. The Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton should be representing our Nation. I remember when Hillary was questioned about what her Husband would of done, well Mr. Clinton had his 8 years in office. The problem the State Department is having, too many Chiefs trying to stir the pot. You need ONE Voice for Leadership. People around the world DO NOT WANT groups of people telling them how they should behave, or what to do, then you have MIXED SIGNALS. We wouldn't be having this ridiculous situation with Vice President Biden because he shouldn't be answering the Call in relations to State Department Issues. If Hillary Clinton is Leading the State Department then LEAD. If by having all the other Chiefs get involved only disrupts the ONE Voice coming from the United States. Sorry to put this so boldly. I'm sure the people hired to do the envoy's can be apart of something bigger to help out but in a different light. Leadership is about one Voice, ONE Command, ONE Person willing to STAND-UP and take action. The United States Needs President Barack Obama to Lead the Country, but also Needs Mrs. Hillary Clinton to be the single Voice of Leadership representing our United States State Department issues with President Obama's message and policies. There's a saying, "Too many chiefs and not enough indians" you guys are trying to hard to solve the simple problems. Keep it simple and everything will work out. Just like in Mexico. I heard on CNN news Mrs. Townsend's comments, she doesn't hold back and uses her noggin. She would be excellent to help out with the State Department issues. Not in the capacity of envoy, but someone who can contribute and help with using Smart Intelligence to the State Department, using Hillary' favorite saying, "SMART POWER"

You can disagree on what President George W. Bush did, but you can't disagree with logic. You use things that work in life. Keep it simple. Palastine could of been moved out, and built a brand new country with the amount of money given to them, and they could of lived peace. Instead, people keep trying to put Isreal and Palestinians together. It's almost like trying to push cain and able together in the very beginning of life. One worked hard the other expected something for nothing. Think about it. In the end How will God Judge your acts, your decisions, your motives, if they lead to turmoil? Peace is about finding solutions to problems. It's impossible to feed the world hunger, but its NOT impossible to teach the world how to fish and Hunt for food or use farming to help people. That's what the garden of eden was all about, teaching adam and eve how to cultivate the land to make crops.

Godbless and think!!!

Donald M.
|
Virginia, USA
March 16, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

3 16 10

What I would suggest or recommend to the State Department and President of the United States is the following regarding Palestine.

Use the envoy leaders to setup an evacuation of all the Palestine People and move them to Greenland. Of course, contact the country of Greenland first to establish a communication and explain the situation and problems that exist between Israel and Palestine. See if Greenland would be supportive on a new homestead and Government for the Palestinian people. One country in the world nobody ever hears anything about, it's GREENLAND. It might be a Godsend to move the Palestinian people out safely, build a new city and Government on Greenland soil. This move would bring peace, stability and security for the world.

Godspeed!!!

Raul
|
California, USA
March 16, 2010

Raul in California writes:

Hillary:

there are a lot of pro-Hillary websites and clubs on your honor:"all things Hillary","Hillary villagers","secretary clinton blog","the world of Hillary Clinton","Madame Secretary","the legendary Hillary Clinton","Team Hillary Clinton","Still4hill","Community life Hillary",etc,etc,etc.Tell us how can we help you succeed in the job you have right now.We are here for you ever!

Sergio B.
|
Chile
March 16, 2010

Sergio B. in Chile writes:

Thanks for the opportunity.

Miryam W.
|
Nebraska, USA
March 16, 2010

Miryam W. in Nebraska writes:

Do you not know what the Word says about Israel? Genesis 12:3 "I will bless those who bless you and him who curses you I will curse. The covenantal land of Israel covers a lot of territory that you could even imagine: Joshua 1:4- "From the desert (gaza) and this Lebanon until the great river Euphrates , to the Great Sea (Mediterrain) toward the setting of the Sun will be your boundaries. Pretty much all of Lebanon, parts of Syria, all of Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank, etc. With the Holy City of the God of the Bible Jerusalem as the capital...

Everytime one of the Presidents cursed Israel by forcing them to give away land for Peace, a natural disaster, or financial disaster happened to this nation. The First President Bush, with his peace pac, the biggest recored Nor'easter hit Cape Code and flatten his house and other mass damage. President Clinton and his peace pac brought record tornadic action to Arkansas and the second President Bush there was a massive Tropical storm that sat over Houston, when we pushed them out of Gaza one week later Katrina hit with full force, and then when we pushed them out of the West Bank Rita hit. And there are other things that have happened shortly after we have cursed Israel. Great Britian lost their empire when they cursed them back in the 30's with the doctirne to keep them out of the land. these are but a few...

Sit up and take heed. The God of the Bible does not like you messing with Israel. They are His people!!!!!

Maya P.
|
New Jersey, USA
March 17, 2010

Maya P. in New Jersey writes:

@ Mrs. Hillary Clinton,

Regarding your official letter to Israel, please explain how anyone can be offended by building houses. How can building houses offend our great country that, from the day of its inception, constantly fought for the right to build, and built throughout its history, thus becoming so great? Whichever country tried to build houses for its citizens, I would be offended by anyone forbidding them to build. Why do you believe that the United States should not have been offended by the "contribution of Muslims to the United States" of the events of 9/11, when nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, and many others are still "quietly" losing theirs as a consequence of that treacherous attack? Why not be offended by the dancing on rooftops in the town of Paterson and free food in all Muslim restaurants on 9/11? Why not be offended by the digging of countless tunnels for transporting deadly cargo into the Gaza strip? Why not be offended by the endless bombardment of civilians in Sderot and Ashdod? Why not be offended by losing billions of dollars received by Yasser Arafat, paid for with the blood of Palestinian and Jewish victims, and (partially) inherited by his wife Suha? Or does the passionate kiss from the First Lady legalize all of that? Please explain to me how the United States ended up in such a shameful situation.

Sincerely, Maya P.

Marjon
|
California, USA
March 17, 2010

Marjon in California writes:

Congratulations on finally showing some signs that the U.S. is willing to hold Israel's feet to the fire. As a one-time resident in Israel (and Jewish), I saw first hand the arrogant contempt in which Israelis held the U.S., while knowing that they had an ally who would always, in the end, come to their support. I also saw that it was an open secret in Israel that peace is seen as a more dangerous unknown than the current status. Peace would bring on an internal war. The current status is a known quantity, and with the firm support of the U.S., there is no reason to move towards peace. Both sides, Palestinians and Israelis, want peace on only their own terms; a negotiated peace is politically risky for both sides, and one side or the other will always inject something to derail progress. The recent settlement issue during VP Biden's visit is no coincidence. Settlements are not primary for Israel's security, but have become a symbol for their willingness to move towards peace. They don't exactly have a 'partner for peace' in the Palestinian leadership, but their stance on the settlements, which are more symbolic than a primary issue for Israel's security, is further indication that Israel, like the Palestinians, does not really want peace, except on terms that no Palestinian leader could accept. However, the continued unrest represents a security risk for the U.S. in the Middle East. It is time for Israel to see signs that U.S. support is not guaranteed.

Inigo
|
Montana, USA
March 17, 2010

Inigo in Montana writes:

Anyone can see from the posts below that the what used to be Canaan but became Israel then became Palestine and is now Israel again "situation" is intractable and beyond anyone's power to solve.

My suggestion is build a wall around the whole area, stop shipping anything in or out and let the parties settle their differences the old fashioned way. Either that or nuke the sight from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure...

Arthur T.
|
California, USA
March 17, 2010

Arthur T. in California writes:

Please, can we stop pushing genetically engineered poison foods on the world? Thanks

Anne P.
|
Brazil
March 18, 2010

Anne Kathryn in Brazil writes:

Congratulations, this will be a wonderful tool to bring people into the international relations arena. Hope good ideas are posted to help world leaders understand and cope with problems that cause conflicts around the world. My suggestion is that this forum be shared with university teachers in Latin America, so they help students find ways to prosper the region. I thank the organizers for this great opportunity.

Anne Kathryn,
International Relations graduate, UNESA Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Michael R.
|
California, USA
March 18, 2010

Michael R. in California writes:

I believe you mean University of California at Berkeley.

Donald M.
|
Virginia, USA
March 19, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

3 19 10

PUNISHING ISRAEL WOULD BE LIKE PUNISHING GOD

World leaders can demand the lands be frozen but apparently nobody seems to listen, that the simple solution to the existing problem is the Palestines. Is real is it's own state and defends it's own freedom. Who are we to demand anything from Israel? Your barking up the wrong tree... You had the solution right in front of you and still want to punish Israel. In the United States our current situation of treading trillions of dollars, deficits rising, and somebody wants to play God. There is but only ONE GOD and call it a vision, call it a voice, remove the Palestinians from that area and move to a new location. Biblical, these two have been at it for years. Giving money to both sides haven't worked. Selling weapons to both sides haven't worked, and telling both sides what to do hasn't worked. If your two Nation solution worked, it would have worked by NOW!!!

The first Commandment in the BIBLE says, God moved the Jews out of the land of slavery from Egypt into the Promise Land. This is Gods word, NOT Man or Woman's word. Defying God will only bring tragedy upon our Nation. As Congress continues to bleed our Nation into huge deficits, people have forgotten how to read or understand the basic understanding of God. Breaking the 1st Commandment of the Bible.

It has been written, God will protect his people. Chose the wrong the side, and our own National Security, our own Country will face magnitudes of Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Floods, Disasters beyond repair, is it really worth getting into political fights, or finding TRUE SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEM?

It's time someone start becoming more humbled, less proud, and showing a Diplomatic approach to Freedom by moving the Palestinians out of the area and making peace.

If its President Barack Obama to punish Israel, he will lose bad. God's might and power is greater than any US President or Prime Minister, read your bibles, God is the highest King, and he will rule. Presidents serve for 4 or 8 years, God has been presiding since earth was created.

IN THE END GOD POWERS ARE GREATER THAN MAN!!!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 19, 2010

Eric in New Mexico

@ Katie Dowd,

Jeeze, and Dipnote wasn't enough like public opinion so we're all invited to a "group think" study group - to see who thinks like us..(chuckle).

Thanks for the "head's up", I'll check it out. Could be fun and enlightening, as I get older and more set in my ways I've come to appreciate Dipnote's non real-time posting format.

Simply because I can self edit my first initial reaction to some of the comments...(chuckle), saving the moderator some grief no doubt.

If there's one really good example of why foreign policy cannot and should never be done by public opinion survey, I would cite CNN's "chat line" comments on the evening of Sept. 11th 2001.

My inspiration for all the things I've ever said about foreign affairs on this blog came partially as a result of viewing the CNN chat line comments for several hours Sept. 11th, fully a third of which spoke of nuking Afghanistan. Mob mentality, on-line.

This is my answer to them.

"Isotope Road""In my granddad's day, some of his fellow scientists at Los Alamos had a "pool" going before the Trinity test as to how large the resulting explosion (in kilotons of TNT) would be. Anyone care to guess how many "Los Alamos's" there are today on the planet? How much Gross National Product is invested? To create weapons that cannot be used, and remain civilized. Some 300 billion a year for the last 50 yrs. on defense in this country alone, this is not for me to judge, as I haven't all the facts. I think it unfortunate, however, that it was deemed necessary, and I stress here the biggest "what if?" is what we might have accomplished as the Human species had we chosen to live in peace, instead of fear after WW2. We have lived so long with the reality of imminent destruction that we've become numb to it in ways that are as dysfunctional as the "Simpsons".

One cannot simultaneously plan for the American dream, and prepare for Armageddon.
Anyone who has witnessed the birth of one's child can tell you that yes indeed you create your own reality, the question is what do we wish to create for ourselves as reality on this planet, now and for our children's, and their children's future? Not just in this country, but the world as a whole, as an international vision.
Inherently, change is viewed with suspicion, as a threat to culture and ways of tradition and ethical belief systems. As it applies to developing countries in this nuclear age, the post-cold war aftermath presents a vast paradox that present no easy solutions, and has culminated in the reality of the war on terrorism as it exists today."

EJ-1/8/02

---
What has been interesting to me is having watched the US government adopt not just a similar mindset, but carve out a plan of action to deal with the dicototomy percieved above.

Not that I said anything new back then, but just maybne it was the way it was put that got folks thinking about how to go about confidence building in the world at large that folks appreciated and found useful in that very long letter, only the opening salvo against the status quo is reprinted here.

So does opinion drive policy, or simply help define the parameters of its success?

( ...continued musings from the prior ramblings found here);

blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/engaging_foreign_affairs#Comments

Best,
EJ

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 19, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Donald,

Your remarks are strangly reminicint of Ayattollah Khameni's recent declaration that protesters of the state were guilty of "Warring against God."

Something you might want to think about before you bring God into it again.

Since God isn't much concerned with man's petty land disputes at this point apparently, it's up to mankind to get a grip on them.

Re; "PUNISHING ISRAEL WOULD BE LIKE PUNISHING GOD"

Donald M.
|
Virginia, USA
March 19, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

I believe will have to wait and see approach. To think that God doesn't care about his Holy Land? Wasn't even President Barack Obama went to the West Wall with a prayer? You can count on one thing, God does care about his land. He also cares about his people. He will protect his people. If you have a bible Eric look it up.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 20, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Donald,

I wouldn't presume to know whether God cares or not, but if he/she were to make an apperance to settle a petty land dispute among humans, I'd think that would be news.

If it were up to me, I'd revoke the lease if they we're not abiding by the terms of it put down in the good book.

Being Buddhist helps being non-attached to certain aspects of the conflict in Israel/Palestine on a personal level in that given their own devices, they'll find a reason to fight about something, the more trivial the better I've concluded.

A casual observer would think your expectation a bit odd, being that for all intents and apperances it seems God left a long time ago and never looked back, while the people still try to find him in the middle of the hell they made for themselves.

Now is that succinct perspective enough to help folks get a grip?

Indeed a cause for wonder, let's wait and see.

.

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