Dear CHI colleagues,

We recently launched the project as an internet experimental medium for advancing the state of the art in Computer-Supported Argumentation. Our topic for Argumentation Experiment 1 is the Iraq Debate.

We have leading members of the computational argument modelling and mapping community involved, but key contributions from the CHI community would include information design and visualization to assist in navigating the complex debate, and grasping important connections between elements (at least, as asserted by the thought leaders whose published views we are modelling).

If you're interested in bringing to bear your approach, then read on... Could this fit into an ongoing project that you run on information design, hypermedia/website design, public understanding of politics or ethics?


Simon Buckingham Shum
Senior Lecturer, Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, UK

Peter Baldwin
Former Australian Cabinet Minister

" is an experiment to evaluate different Computer-Supported Argumentation approaches: both the technologies, and the 'craft skill' of using them effectively.

Our two-fold objectives are to:

* showcase how complex debates of topical interest can be more effectively communicated,
   navigated and analysed when mapped in software tools

* advance the state of the art in practical argumentation support tools

Players participate in argumentation experiments, working to an agreed schedule and from common sources. Through systematic comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of approaches, we aim to clarify how approaches can be usefully compared and improved.

We hope that you find this an intriguing idea, and invite you to join in the next experiment."

And below is the announcement I posted today on Argumentation Experiment 1...


Experiment 1 (Mar-May 2005): Iraq Debate

Introduction to the debate

The decision by the United States and a number of allies (including the UK and Australia) to militarily remove the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq in March-April 2003 provoked one of the most heated and complex public policy debates in recent times. The debate continues to the present day as more information bearing on the war’s original justification becomes available and the focus shifts to the appropriate policy for post-war Iraq. Innumerable arguments and considerations have been invoked in the different arenas where the debate has been conducted (parliamentary/congressional debates, various branches of academia, the media, the vernacular public debate) bearing on the legality, morality and prudence of the war.

The positions taken by participants almost invariable depend (either implicitly or explicitly) on some larger framework of analysis that determines the weight or relevance accorded to different considerations. This may be a comprehensive theory about the justification for war (such as traditional Just War Theory), or a distinctive ethical theory (such as Consequentialism), or a perspective shaped within a particular academic discipline (e.g. the Realist/Constructivist/Liberalist debate amongst international relations scholars) – or just a collection of prejudices.

Ideally, we would like to develop an integrated overview of substantial parts of the debate, making reference to a representative selection of sources (textual and other media) in which the arguments are expressed.

Source Documents

Dr Simon J. Buckingham Shum
Senior Lecturer, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1908 655723
Fax: +44 (0)1908 653169 [office]
eFax: +44 (0)870 122 8765 [direct]
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"All models are wrong, but some are useful"      W. Edwards Deming
 Compendium: hypermedia sensemaking
 Visualizing Argumentation
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