I have thought of an iphone app that will revolutionize how citizens discuss political and social topics. This idea was inspired by a game I used to play in my medical professional development class called Philosophical Chairs. Our teacher would line all of the desks up and make a controversial statement (Abortion should be banned, death penalty should be legal in all states, drinking age should be lowered to 16, etc, etc, etc). We would then take either the affirmative side, the negative side, or we would straddle the fence. Whenever we were ready to speak our minds, our teacher would toss up a ball, we would state our claim, toss the ball back to the teacher, and then somebody from the other side would present their argument. At any time, people from the fence could move to either the affirmative or the negative side, and the affirmative and negative people could be persuaded to the opposing side or to the fence.
For the app, we would be doing exactly this.
If I were a user:
I would create an account and log on. There would be a list of different debate topics, and I would select one. On the next screen I would have the option of either being on the affirmative side, on the negative side, or on the fence. The application will randomly generate an affirmative team and a negative team (I was thinking 6-7 people on each team. We will see what works best) and a pool of individuals who would rather be spectators (those who are on the fence, who are shy but would still like to hear the debates, people who are looking to learn more and gain different perspectives, etc). Once the teams are formed and the debate begins, I would have a state my argument button. I hit that when I am ready, and I am added to a queue. (The program would go from affirmative to negative to affirmative, and so on until the end of the debate (I'm thinking 20-30 minutes?)). While I am waiting for my turn to state my claim, the negative will present their argument, and I will be watching them do this live through their webcam. When it is my turn, my webcam video will pop up on the screens of my team, the opposing team, and the on-the-fencers, and I will state my argument (30-45seconds?). This will continue on until the end of the debate. At the end of the debate, the on the fencers will decide if they are now affirmative or negative, and the team with the most convincing arguments wins!
I would like there to be an option to form your own team and to send debate requests, that way debaters can join up with people they know, debate clubs could use the application to develop skills, and we could have different debates going on that where valid arguments are posed.