Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An App For Transparency

Perhaps people in the workplace or in the course of civic affairs who take questions as criticism are not as great an impediment as are those people who are afraid or reticent or slow to ask questions – usually as much out of fear of not looking smart as for fear of looking stupid.

Now there is an app for that

Designed for the classroom, the app which is entitled GoSoapBox enables students to raise anonymous questions to their teacher but it would work just as well for workplace staff meetings and even for meetings outside the office.

Unfortunately it will only be a nuisance for people who invite others to hear a pitch, but seed the meeting with people who have committed to the proposal in advance as a means to pressure those who are hearing it for the first time or to drown out any concerns or objections.

It may even work for public hearingsgosoapbox and other meetings that are televised or webcast meetings as a means for residents who can’t attend to voice opinions or raise questions they would like officials to ask of presenters.

The new app would definitely work to make many board meetings more effective and democratic by helping to overcome these four far too common scenarios:

  • Whenever several verbose members dominate exchanges by frenetically leaping from point to point before there is time to pose questions to the commentators or probe for supporting data or rationale, often prematurely “calling for the question” as an intimidation tactic.


  • Where emphatic commentators send verbal signals or use body language designed to intimidate a “who’s asking” compliance based on cronyism or powerful relationships and not the merit of the issue under discussion.


  • Whenever a few members use verbal forcefulness, condescension or patronization to virtually shout down consideration of questions and concerns with which they or often their outside special interests disagree before discussion can inform a decision.


  • When board members are annoyed by another member who openly fronts for special interests or openly violates ethics or cycles discussions back to old issues but are too embarrassed for the individual to intervene because that board member’s comments or questions really are that uninformed or stupid or, perhaps, they fear retribution.

This GoSoapBox app provides a tool for secret ballots and/or, at the very least, can equip moderators with information to better able them to guide the discussion or even to pose hypothetical questions that are not being openly raised.

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