In a 16-minute video discussion with Journalism That Matters' Bill
Densmore, Cioffi describes his work and the offer he's making to libraries
and news organizations.
Cioffo was just elected in March to the board of the National Coalition
for Dialog and Deliberation and he already is president of the Open Forum
Foundation in Washington, D.C., where he lives. He helps convene
discussions, gatherings and conferences within the federal government to
teach better ways of keeping information flowing.
In the Boston suburb of Norfolk, Cioffo has been working with the town
moderator -- unique New England institution -- to figure out how to extend
the deliberations of a New England Town Meeting -- typically at a set time
and physical space -- by adding online dialogue and deliberation on
important civic issues. He's done similar work for the school district in
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Now Cioffi wants to find as many as a half dozen libraries or news
organizations who he will give a free license to use his OnlineTownHalls
software and help him test it's applicability to the mission of both -- to
foster participatory democracy and open access to information.
"OnlineTownhalls is pleased to donate its software," says Cioffi. "The
software enables journalists and community managers at public libraries to
convene large-scale, participatory discussions without having them get out
of control. The best use of the tool is in blending online and in-person
engagement, allowing more people to have a voice in the issues that matter