Open Up is designed for people who want to work out what they think about the issues of the day, but who don’t have the time to read lots of material. Unlike other digests or summaries, it presents each issue through twelve key arguments for you to evaluate.
What do we do to be objective?
Open Up topics all have the same structure. We start by developing six questions. We then write two answers for each question: a ‘Yes’ answer and a ‘No’ answer. That makes twelve answers in all – six times two. Those twelve are the twelve arguments you see. We show them to you in random order. We don’t show you the questions – they’re like the scaffolding used to build a house.
Where a topic is ‘for and against’, like ‘Should the UK create a written constitution?’, this allows us to put the best arguments for and against the proposal. Where there are several options, as with the topic of airport capacity, we put the best argument in favour of each option, with each of these arguments opposed by its counter-argument.
What do we mean by ‘best’ argument? There’s no completely objective way of defining this. We strike a balance between the argument that has the strongest logic behind it, and the one given most weight in public debate on the issue.
The final thing we do is provide references, so that you can check where facts and arguments come from.
What Open Up is not
Open Up is not a conventional survey or opinion poll. They ask you what you already think. Open Up aims to help you work out what you think about the issues of the day. And if you end up more confused, because you’ve been faced with counter-arguments to your original thoughts, that is fine too.
What do we do with the results?
We try and get them to people who can use them. For instance, we sent the results of a trial on the written constitution topic in 2012/13 to the the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry on this topic. The results are now part of their official evidence.
Why are all these topics so UK-focussed?
The clue’s in the name - openupuk.org. I’m a Brit. But that’s just a starting point. Open Up can be used anywhere and everywhere.
How can I find out about your new topics?
Lots of people have encouraged, advised and helped me. I’ll pick out just a few:
The Wellcome Trust and the Open Society Institute provided grants for developing prototypes, the former for paper maps and the latter on-line – see www.thinkingdrugs.org
BWA provided the design and Netizn programmed it.
Students at Hereford Sixth Form College helped me test an early version.