Yes, which is why I am doing virtual reality (VR) research. This is really the enabler. It is not about cyberspace, it is not about Internet tools. It is about the use of text as the primary medium of communication. People who are good at text – journalists, lawyers, coders – we are able to look at a long article and are able to “build” castles and palaces in our heads. This is what enables us to have high-quality deliberations with each other.
When we are saying “democratic,” I want to include people who are brilliant in different modalities. Maybe they are good at tangible design, maybe they are good at audio, and other non-textual modalities. It was the goal of my research, before I joined the Cabinet, to do what we call “scalable listening” – help people to be able to listen to each other by translating between one person’s preferred speech or writing or whatever modality, to the other person’s preferred input, be it tangible, audio or something else.
It is a bit like how Skype is now able to listen in English and translate in Mandarin, but to have this not just between languages, but between modes of languages. This is crucial to enable the majority of people, who are not so comfortable with writing, into the rule-making and deliberation process. Again, it is not about designing a system, it is about responding to a situation. Virtual reality captures all the non-verbal parts of a negotiation.