My name is Ethan Finley, I’m a graduate student at George Mason University, a self-identified peacebuilder, and a dialogue facilitator. I’m also a bit of a Web 2.0 aficionado, and I am hopeful about using this vast sea of new technology to do conflict transformation work. But, thinking about how to do this led me to the following series of dilemmas and questions….
It has long been axiomatic in the field of conflict resolution and peacebuilding that what is really necessary is to “get all the parties to the table” and to “talk things out face to face.” Mediation and dialogue require a very intimate and delicate interface among human beings in tense and difficult circumstances. Nevertheless, the variety of ways in which we socialize and connect is not only expanding exponentially in this new millennium, it is increasingly dependent upon electronics: email, social networking, blogging, internet chat, VOIP, online collaboration, etc. To what extent can these new avenues of human contact be utilized to help resolve disputes, reinforce communities, manage change, and build peace? Alternatively, is it even possible to conduct “digital dialogue” given the distance inherent in electronic communication? And, if so, what technologies are best suited to this purpose, and how must facilitation and mediation practices by modified to fit the format?
I’m hoping for the input of as many of you, my colleagues, as possible, regardless of whether you have experience with “conflict resolution,” per se, or not. Thank you, and I look forward to our own little dialogue here!
My blog: Instruments of Peace