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Winning the Peace

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A presentation given to the Institute of Medicine's Non Violence Forum, on the role and potential role of helping build a robust democracy in post conflict Northern Ireland.

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Winning the Peace

  1. 1. Winning the peace? (its not about the technology)
  2. 2. Northern Irelands war• Began when TV was black and white and it ended often in gory colour• 8 civilians died in North Down electoral area, more than 1,600 of them died in Belfast but they died in largest numbers in working class areas.• Many more were scarred, both physically and emotionally• The biggest loss was in inter and intra communal trust and the generational sundering of social bonds• Particularly in working class communities
  3. 3. Sheep from goats• Protestant from catholic• Nationalist from unionist• They began to lead separate lives;• The perception grew on both sides that they suffered unequal fates• Politically there was much parleying• But no parliament to discern common good, never mind act upon it
  4. 4. Along comes digital• Www created an opportunuity parallel debate• Bypassing the gatekeepers• 2002, I set up Slugger OToole... In England (not NI)• A conversation began which is still going on• Though peace (and negotiation) no longer sole subject• Education; infrastructure; community ownership
  5. 5. Death of space• three newspapers: IRISH News; Newsletter; Belfast Telegraph• Slugger put these outputs in a single space• convened conversations between the readers of all three• Kite flying, and discovery of otherwise hidden contexts for the other
  6. 6. Rules based engagement• Quickly realised importance of maintaining a pluralist community• And the need to value dissent...• In order to enable the emergence of new perspectives on old problems• Play the ball and not the man...
  7. 7. Read/write revolution• The US war bloggers were the first revolutionaries• Because people could connect, they did• Mark Rosenbergs re-engineered environment• The mere appeal to authority doesnt work any more• This is a show me, not a tell me paradigm
  8. 8. From simplicity of war to acomplex and needy peace• Every issue is constrained to a lethal binary• In peace, life becomes more complex• Electronically weve moved from the channel of telegrams, to radio, to TV, to the networked web• If markets are conversations.. Then conversation is the most effective new dissemination tool we have
  9. 9. Consultation as part of the design• People are now interested in agency (as Breakthrough Indias "Ring the Bell" demonstrates)• Because they know they have capacity• Yet they are locked out because too many institutions still buy into the deficit model• In NI, Consultation is done because its a legal requirement• It leads to Consultation fatigue because people dont see their own agency in the final outputs
  10. 10. Shared means of production• Its not about capitulation; but rather co-creation a la Yochai Benkler• Requires a clear understanding of what the opportunity is...• And for people to commit to repeatedly cross Eriks "Bridges of Trust"• At Slugger we have barely scrapped the surface of these insights• Were working with partners to scale them up into more effective interventions

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