Friday, December 07, 2018

Debate Me: A New Form of Social Media

Christopher Jon Bjerknes

People often suggest I debate so and so about such and such. Most often their suggestions are sincere and productive. Sometimes, it is obvious that they are provocateurs trying to stir the pot.

I like the idea of debates and the Socratic method. We need a neutral forum which facilitates these debates and I propose a new type of social media in the form of a web service like facebook or YouTube. I also propose it partner with facebook and YouTube and other social media outlets to integrate their services into its service. For example, YouTube could incorporate livestream debates with chats where chatters could issue challenges to each other to open up new debates at the click of a mouse button. Facebook could provide a means for one click challenges to a debate.

Perhaps some university could create an open source project to create this service. I have some ideas to kick it off and help it take shape. It should be an educational tool as well as entertainment for the masses. It should help people learn how to think, how to prove a point and examine evidence, and it should provide a means for an exchange to progress in a documented chain so that the audience can examine the record and arrive at their individual conclusions. It would also be a good forum for White Nationalists, if those with the technical skills are interested in pursuing it.

Someday it might become quite profitable as celebrity debaters and moderators emerge to compete with the talking heads of mass media. It is also bound to become highly politically influential and attract ringers and agents of the parties, as well as agents of big business. At any event, the interplay of ideas should be regulated so that no advantage inherent in the system exists, but it should also offer various means of debating and numerous options for framing the rules under which the debate will take place. Those rules will be amendable by agreement.

I suggest different classes of debate with various options in each. There could be video debate options through YouTube livestream. There could be debates with chats, and those in the chats could challenge one another to create subdebates and new debates. These challenges could be publicly issued with a mere click on the avatar of the person in the chat, which would open up a dialogue box with the means to issue the challenge and suggest one of the types of debates and categories of rules. This would be far better than flame wars and unchallenged declarations of glittering generalities. It would create an atmosphere of excitement and participation.

Users could create homepages listing their debates and their thoughts on debates, with blogs and challenges posted. Text and text to voice would also be categories available. There could be multilingual debates with machine translations checked by the audience and open to challenge and contest. This would be a way to improve translation software with live discussion from numerous countries and dialects.

I suggest various general forums, including “bloodsport” with no rules, cursing, child restrictions, mob support, cheerleaders, dirty tricks and voting; civil, with classical time rules that block the entries and microphone of the opponent when the other’s allotted time is used, but record them on the side for future review. There could also be a column for all the things a debater thinks of later and wishes he had said. We could make that very funny, an option to insert “after thoughts” to record all the things you should have said but did not think of at the time, and other users could add their thoughts as well post debate. Voting would be permitted with a thumbs up or down. The computer would document points made as entered by the contestants and then demand the point be ceded, contested, or a refusal to continue to debate it; so that the debate can proceed without going in circles. I want to improve on past methods to create a truly efficient means of discussion, especially in the civil section.

There should also be a kid friendly general forum with age and skill level classifications, which can be breached by supervised agreements. They should have lots of exciting images and avatar choices. They should be engineered to teach children how to think logically and examine truth, as well as how to fight for their ideas.

I suggest the creation of emojis which when hovered over provide standard definitions of common debate terms and logical definitions, including "strawman", "ad hominem", "non sequitur", "petitio pincipii", etc. which debaters can click on to challenge the statements of their opponents and compel a response. The audience could also enter these in the accompanying chat.

I also would make one of the options a standard dictionary to use for defining terms, with another option to use an emoji to request the opponent to define a term, and then record that term so that no argument is to arise as to definitions. We could create a select and define tool, where one of the contestants could select a word or term used by their opponent and click a button which would show standard definitions and then ask for an alternative. Again, I want to create as efficient a process as possible and make it obvious when a user is using sophistry to win a debate so that the audience is not easily deceived by sophistry. These lessons will carry over into their lives in general and should improve society.

There could be a column where settled points are recorded. Often when people debate, they lie about what they had said and try to change what they said, which would here be recorded. We could have a funny icon that would pop up penalizing lies and misrepresentations. There are all kinds of ways to make debates more effective, efficient, productive and fun.

To promote anonymity and provide fun for kids, we could partner with a voice changing software source to provide the option for a voice changer.