Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another take on an "Opposing Viewpoints" database: what it it were linked to social media?

I have long supported the idea that people need to understand how others feel about issues and the way these play out.  This is related to how people feel about other people, both in groups or tribes and as individuals.

There is a series of books from a Michigan publisher called the “Opposing Viewpoints” series, described on my Books blog Sept. 19, 2006. I have a contribution in the book on Teenage Sexuality. 

The newspaper “USA Today” often presents its editorial in the format “our position” and “opposing view.”

I have, over the past few years, mostly offline, worked on the idea of developing a “Dewey decimal-like” coding system for the many major public policy issues, and then matching positions and opposing viewpoints in a relational database.

We’ve seen many issues where two sides seem to “talk past” one another.  These include the debt ceiling, gay marriage, and most recently how to combat online piracy.  All of these issues fit (in a somewhat concentric way) into a system of statements that have to do with the autonomy of the individual and the importance (or lack thereof) of the individual’s accepting the need to meet the real needs of others in a group before he is heard from as an individual.   For example, music would have no value without specific people listening to it, and feelings, however intense in a religious or artistic setting (as with music) only become relevant relative to others.

Coding would have to take into account the each belief’s relation to “individualism”. I have to add right now that I’m struck, from the tone of the recent GOP debate, how “compassionate conservatism” expects people to “care” for each other within an authoritarian structure that definitely prefers some personalities over others.

Any “statement” depends on other statements that the speaker believes. To some extent, the statements may fall into the pattern of a deductive “proof”. The numbering or coding of statements in a database would reflect this logical sequencing.

What if social media (Facebook) could link to such an automated database and relate the statements and views to demographics or to what people “like”?  Leslie Stahl's interview of Mark Zuckerberg last night on CNBC (reviewed today on my TV blog) has me wondering. 


From an Access Database offline: a statement about conscription:


 From another try just with hard-coded hyperlinks:

Here's from another attempt, on a Unix system with MySQL, with contrasting statements about trademark dilution:

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