- George Washington
March 2013: CRInfo Joins the CL3 Community
As of this month, Beyond Intractability now shares its database and server environment with its sister project, CRInfo: The Conflict Resolution Information Source. This new configuration will allow the two projects to draw from each other's extensive resource collections, while simultaneously retaining their respective identities and offering the same high-quality, focused services that their respective audiences have come to expect. The style of the CRInfo website has also been updated to better complement that of Beyond Intractability.
January 2013: Beyond Intractability System Upgrade
Beyond Intractability is in the process of deploying a far reaching series of changes that will 1) improve and simplify the interface (see the navigation circle graphic on the homepage), 2) strengthen the collaborative learning community component of the project, and 3) improve knowledge base access and content. The first series of changes have now been made with additional upgrades planned for the rest of. Virtually all pre-existing content is available on the new system and can be reached from the navigation circle graphic on the homepage. (Mouse over each arrow to see what it links to. The most frequently-used content--the essays, case studies, and interviews are all accessible from the "browse" button on the bottom of the circle. Much of the material is also accessible from the menu bar at the top of every page. We apologize for any confusion that may occur during this transition. We will be posting a text-based and video "tour" of the new home page very soon!
November 2011 Changes
Beyond Intractability and the Conflict Information Consortium are no longer affiliated with The Governance Commons or One Earth Future. The New Beyond Intractability contains many features that emerged from its 2010-2011 partnership with One Earth Future and many features of the Governance Commons were designed and built by the Consortium. Beyond Intractability also continues to provide the Governance Commons with a Gateway to Beyond Intractability content. Otherwise, the programs are now completely independent. There is no longer a connection between the participation options offered to the Beyond Intractability community and those offered to the Commons.
As of November, 2011, we have completed three of the five major tasks we have planned for the new Beyond Intractability (BI). These include a new computer platform that has enabled new interactivity features, as well as new content. Updating the original content is still a work in process. But the current improvements are significant enough that we wanted to bring them online before the last two tasks are complete. Progress so far is as follows:
- New Content — though our partnership with TGC is now over, our separation agreement allows us to incorporate all of the new governance-related content that we and others developing for TGC. Almost all of this relates to intractable conflict as well as governance, and thus is still included in Beyond Intractability. We also have incorporated TGC's challenge structure into BI. This structure was developed largely on the basis of our work with intractable conflicts, and applying that knowledge to the governance problem. This resulted in a rather different structure for both TGC and BI than is typical on other governance sites, which tend to look simply at particular domains of governance — economy, environment, trade, etc. Our conflict challenge "take" on peace and governance is new, and will be maintained here, even though we are no longer associated with TGC.
- New Interaction Features — When BI was first built in 2001, the Internet was brand new. Email was just starting; there was nothing like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, or other such social networking sites. Now, obviously, users expect to interact with the material they read online. We will soon be creating a BI presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and elsewhere. In addition, both sites share what we call the CL3 system — a software platform for creating a Challenge-oriented, Large-scale, Long-term Learning) Community. Through this interactive system, we invite users to discuss what they read and add their own ideas. It is now possible to "rank" every resource you look at so that, over time, each resource will have a user-developedstar rating, just like books do on Amazon and restaruants do on Zaggat. You can comment on any resource, and engage in a discussion with other readers about a particular resource or about a particular conflict problem you are facing. Registered users (registration is free) can post information about publications of interest (theirs or others'), events, questions, answers, audios, videos — anything on the topics of governance, intractable conflict, or peace can be added and discussed by users as easily as it can be added by us (the developers). With your help, this will enable us to do what Bill Ury urged us to do years ago — to change BI from an "encyclopedia" into a "place" where people from around the world can gather to collaborate on developing better ideas for preventing and transforming intractable conflicts. For more information about ways to do this, go to the Comment & Suggest and Write & Edit pages.
- New Computer Platform — We have recently updated the computer platform upon which Beyond Intractability is built. When we started BI, the entire computer program had to be written from scratch — no one had heard of "content management software." While that original program mostly still works, it was becoming slow and unstable. By moving onto new, much more reliable servers, and upgrading to a professional content management system (Drupal), we have been able to significantly increase the speed and reliability of the system and add all the new features described above.
- Updates to the "original" Beyond Intractability essays — Our last goal is to update the original Beyond Intractability articles, many of which were written in 2001-2003. This has yet to be accomplished, and will likely need addition funding to be completed. However, many of the essays need no change at all — negotiation is still done largely the same way, the causes of intractability haven't changed, communication skills are just as important now as they were then. So all we plan to do to many of the essays is give them a careful read through, update the additional resources at the end of each essay (these are being assembled now and many are complete), and a new date — indicating that they have been "approved" as up-to-date in 2011 (or 2012). Other essays will need significant changes. Much has changed, for example, since our article on War Crimes Tribunals was written; new strategies have been developed for dealing with spoilers; counter-insurgency is a quickly changing field. We plan to approach the original authors first, to see if they are willing to do the revisions. If they do not want to, or we cannot contact them, we will do the revising ourselves, or seeking new authors to write entirely new articles. Once we do an assessment, we will be posting a list of needed articles on the participation page, in the hopes that we can get help assembling new materials. (All submissions will be peer reviewed, of course, to make sure the content, language, and format works with the site.)
- Updates to the Essay "Additional Resources" — Although we haven't had the time or the funding to undertake a systematic review of all of the original essays, we have been able to update many of the additional resources that are attached to those essays. When we first complied the additional resources, the Internet was much smaller. For that reason, we needed to rely largely on print resources for the additional resource listings. Now much more knowledge is available online, so we are trying to update all the additional resources to be primarily, if not entirely, online resources. You can tell which articles have new resources by going to the list of articles and looking for the stars. Those indicate that the resources have been updated. Over the next several months, we are hoping to complete this process, so all the articles will have new resources. We hope users will help with this process too — if you know of a particularly useful resource on governance, intractability or its transformation, please let us know!
Still, the biggest change making the CL3 system understandable, engaging, and useful to our users. Please explore the site, tell us what you think, and hopefully join the new CL3 community. We see improving conflict handling skills as as crucial to human welfare as addressing the global warming problem. Please help us tackle the tough problems on the frontier of the field.