TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Create a web based mechanism to discuss if we are asking the right questions about certain subjects. "ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?"

There are many subjects where discussions get sidetracked and useful resolutions don't get discussed and implemented because the wrong questions are asked.

I would love to see some sort of web based mechanism created and used where people could raise a red flag when they saw subjects debated where the discussion had been diverted and the important facets of the subject were being ignored or missed.

A way to raise these red flags so they can serve as effective warnings that will be heeded by the press and humanity alike would help serve mankind.

For example, in electing candidates, how much time is wasted talking about things that have virtually nothing to do with the abilities of candidates to successfully carry out the duties of their offices? Instead of asking about and discussing things that are irrelevant, we would be better served by defining those skills that are important for a successful office holder to have. The press is particularly guilty of not asking the right questions but rather of wallowing in sensationalism and endless poll results reporting. "ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?"

Another related misdirected type question could be do we mistake desiring to get the MOST people to vote in an election with trying to get the people who are BEST QUALIFIED to vote in an election. We often mistake quantity for quality. "ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?"

I believe there are many subjects that are discussed in public and by the press that are not properly debated because people tend to follow the initial line of discussion and often don't look at issues with a fresh eye to make sure the right questions are asked.

How can you suggest such a mechanism could be created?

Perhaps a website called: "ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?"

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Aug 2 2012: Side-tracked discussions in real life is really hard to avoid, when the topic is good. However, I think an online thread does a better job of capturing everyone's ideas and thoughts. You can even have nested comments to the thread too.

    It's hard for real life discussions to really support not getting sidetracked because of its extremely linear nature. Not to mention, when you get an idea, you want to interrupt what the guy was saying when he was trying to make a point. So again, it has more to do with the linearity of normal speech.

    I think we have the right questions, it's just that in a real life debate, some questions aren't heard as opposed to the heard ones.

    But in speech, it's much easier to hold a conversation as opposed to using a thread on a forum, but threads discuss the topics much more in detail with its multi-linear structure.
    • Aug 2 2012: James, yes there are definite differences between online threads and in person conversations. I think that is one of the reasons online discussions have become so popular and useful. I'd like to be able to take the online experience one step further with methods to help ensure as many options and viewpoints as possible are discussed.

      It is unfortunate that real life discussion do seem to be fairly linear, as you said, because they do tend to go down one path. That is the beauty of multiple participants with multiple viewpoints in and online conversation. How would you suggest enhancing online discussions to help promote this richer wealth of ideas and viewpoints?
      • thumb
        Aug 2 2012: Hmm, I think online discussions have been pretty good in terms of the format. Threads are capable of covering a topic more thoroughly due to that multi-linear structure.

        I think the best enhancement for online discussions is really to ask better questions, and make sure we cover each question. Questions, especially good ones, are the ones that make you think and generate richer ideas. And more questions/ideas attract more viewpoints. In terms of the thread format, it's satisfactory at the moment. The thread format also forces people to read the whole post, not interrupt someone before they finish explaining their points.
        • Aug 2 2012: I liked what Jan-Bernd Pauli had to say in his comments to this conversation. Maybe we need to help online thread conversationalists be able to leave their 'comfort zone' so they take a fresh and different look at issues. How could this be done?

          I agree with you that good questions are the ones that make people think and generate richer ideas. The trick is how to get those "good questions" asked. Maybe conversation moderators could take a more active part in conversations and challenge participants to justify their positions or challenge participants to support an opposing position as an exercise in debate. What do you think?
      • thumb
        Aug 2 2012: So to get them off their comfort zone and to somehow get those good questions asked, I think you just need to attract those curious-minded guys.

        So, I guess this also depends on the topics of discussion, but if they're anything like Ted, then all you need to do is just get a bunch of people who asks a bunch of questions. Maybe, get more kids involved. They come up with the best questions imo.

        I think, as long as you bring in a small number of curious people into that community, then things get interesting.

        There could be better ways, that I'm not thinking about today hmm...
      • thumb
        Aug 2 2012: Ok I'm just thinking of good topics here.

        Maybe there should be a lot of topics on philosophy, and moral value.

        Topics on Current Events and Politics.

        Discussions on movies/books/music and the "deeper" meanings of things.

        Curious Science questions.

        What's gonna happen in the future?

        What would we do once we find other intelligent life forms out there?
        • Aug 2 2012: James, I love your topic ideas! That level of subject matter would certainly prompt some interesting discussions.

          Now to take this whole conversation to another, deeper level, I would posit not only how can we get a rich enough mix of viewpoints and questions explored but how can we move from the discussion to the action phase. In other words, how can we get people and organizations to not stop at the discussion stage but take the conclusions reached and put them into real world actions. Certainly TED is a forerunner in this type of work. What else can be done?
      • thumb
        Aug 3 2012: Hmm, that's a pretty good question...

        So let's say, there are good discussions going on, and finally there have been good solutions to those big questions eventually. So how can we translate those good solutions into action?

        As of right now, it just seems like by luck, someone stumbles over the topic and thinks, hey that's a great solution, I'll do it!

        I had an idea somewhere on here, about a Social Media Platform for Ideas. Basically, I was trying to come up with a system that gives thinkers/innovators livable income, while their ideas generated have become crowd-sourced for anyone to use.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.