About the Author: Katie Dowd serves as New Media Director at the U.S. Department of State.Opinion Space, the U.S. Department of State's experimental website, has brought together over 4,000 people from around the world -- from Mali to Norway -- to discuss a range of foreign policy issues. When we launched Opinion Space, we asked participants: “If you met U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, what issue would you tell her about, why is it important to you, and what specific suggestions do you have for addressing it?”
Since its launch on March 15, 2010, we're seeing opinions and ideas that span the spectrum: world peace, women's education, the war in Afghanistan, and food security. We are even seeing foreign students encourage their communities to use Opinion Space to discuss student visas. The opinion map pictured above shows the distribution of the top keywords.
Opinion Space, launched in partnership with UC Berkeley's Center for New Media, seeks to engage global online audiences on a variety of foreign policy issues. We want to listen, learn, and open new conversations with the global community. On the cutting edge of data visualization, Opinion Space groups participants in a new way, plotting personal opinions based on similarity, not liberal or conservative, domestic or foreign.
As Secretary Clinton said, "Opinion Space will harness the power of connection technologies to provide a unique forum for international dialogue. This is an example of what we call 21st century statecraft and an opportunity to extend our engagement beyond the halls of government directly to the people of the world."
Opinion Space gives participants the options to rate each others' comments, and then uses these ratings to highlight the most insightful responses, listed under "Top Authors." A new "Rising Authors" list highlights responses from new participants in the community. For example, our participants have written:
“One of the big problems right now is the lack of visibility of the Foreign Service as an arm of American foreign policy...the State Department could do more (a) to educate Americans and others about what diplomacy does and does not do, and (b) educate military personnel about how to be more skillful public diplomats.”
“I am concerned that we are losing lots of innovative and highly educated people to other countries due to visa issues. This is a growing problem, and without these types of people, the U.S. will lose its advantage and position on the world stage. The U.S. needs to rectify their visa policy.”
This month, we are launching the next discussion question: "How can the international community strengthen global efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation?"
What is your opinion? We want to know what you think, and listen and learn from one another. The State Department also welcomes suggestions about the system and future discussion questions. Please visit the Opinion Space page and click "Feedback” and let us know what you think.
From coffee tables and Internet cafes around the world, Opinion Space is creating a new community to share ideas and opinions, about today's most pressing challenges. To join the discussion, visit http://www.state.gov/opinionspace/ and tell your friends on Twitter using #opinionspace.