In fall 2007, 300 adult Americans engaged in a national scientific experiment to see what the public would think about citizenship and democracy in modern American society if people became more informed about the issues and talked about them together.
For four weeks, participants engaged in weekly small group dialogues online with trained moderators, using special software and interacting through voice rather than text. They discussed balanced briefing materials and posed questions to experts from different points of view. Issues deliberated included the importance of participating in the democratic process and of being informed, as well as the question of national service. In past such experiments, participants' views changed significantly: about policy options, about public officials and about each other.
The experiment was conducted by Stanford University's Center for Deliberative Democracy in conjunction with the public opinion research firm Polimetrix of Palo Alto, CA. It forms part of the larger national Dialogues in Democracy conversation.