Open Source – The Washington Times – Home

02/20/2009
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Some old media are embracing new methods, including openness and portability of data, such as the Washington Times. This is big.

The Washington Times has always focused on content. After careful review, we determined that the best way to have the top tools to produce and publish that content is to release the source code of our in-house tools and encourage collaboration.

The source code is released under the permissive Apache License, version 2.0.

via Open Source – The Washington Times – Home.

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Journal Entry: Mediation Chapter 2

06/03/2008

In this chapter, Mediation as a process is described and introduced, much in the same way we do in a very abridged way in the beginning of a mediation session. The ideal role of the mediator as facilitator, empowerer, and face manager (not judge) is described. The benefits of mediation, including convenience, effectiveness, preventative nature, relationship preservation and redefinition, and confidentiality are discussed, if in a somewhat biased way. The types of mediation are also discussed. At the end of the chapter there is an interesting exercise which asks us the look at one definition of mediation, and to dismantle it in order to see what aspects of the process are lost when those definitive elements are removed.

Domenici, K., Domenici-Littlejohn, & Littlejohn, S. W. (2001). Mediation: Empowerment in Conflict Management, Second Edition. (2nd), 198. Waveland Press.

Personal experiential influence:

Mediation: A confidential, voluntary process where a neutral third party facilitates negotiation between two or more parties with mutually acceptable agreement as one possible outcome (Domenici, et al., 1991, p. 43).

Without confidentiality, mediation could be embarrassing, fear generating, or hurtful to disputants.
Without being voluntary, mediation generated agreements might be less likely to hold.
Without neutrality, the mediator could have a powerful influence on outcomes they themselves want.
Without facilitation, mediation could degrade into chaotic name calling.
Without all parties present, mediation could reinforce barriers between disputants.
Without mutually acceptable agreements, they will be less likely to be actually agreed to by all parties.
With mandated agreements, disputants might be unwilling to accept outcomes.


Mediation Introduction Script revision

05/24/2008

Welcome to our mediation session, and thank you for participating. Please let me introduce myself: I’m John LeMasney, a trained mediator with Mediation Solutions, and I’ve been asked here to facilitate your mediation session. Could you please, each in turn, say your name, your role in this dispute (in a few words), and then please say the phrase “I’m here to make this better.” Please respect others’ right to speak. I’ll start. I’m John, I’m the co-mediator for this session, and I’m here to make this better.

[participants introduce themselves]

Very good! The fact that you’re all here is a great first step towards making this better. Congratulations on your bravery, commitment, and your willingness to participate in this unique process.

Mediation is simply a facilitated discussion of your differences. It gives us an opportunity to improve the existing situation while staying out of court and other more formal structures. We believe that you can solve this yourselves, and obviously you do too, by your presence. In this room, we are neither judges nor arbiters. While we’re here we are also not consultants, advisors, or lawyers. We are here simply to provide a structure for your conversation. We will work to give you the best chance at understanding each other, listening to each other, and finding out the full reasons why you’re at odds. You can resolve this issue, using your own words, on your own terms, collaboratively, as a team.

Regarding what’s permissible here: Common courtesy and mutual respect are mandated in order for this to work. Only one person speaks at a time, preferably after they are addressed, without interruption; verbal, nonverbal, or physical interjections should be reserved until it is your turn to speak. Feel free to use these notepads in order to take notes to remind yourself of points you wish to address.

Now, please take a look at this confidentiality agreement, sign it, and return it. This is a way for us in this room to begin to feel safe about speaking freely. What occurs here should stay here, and you should know that all notes and other recordings, aside from our agreement itself, will be destroyed at the end of our mediation. The agreement will hold all that we wish to retain of our work here. We hope that you will be able to simply let go of any negative feelings about each other over time, and any record of our talks tonight might prolong that process.

If for any reason either you or we feel that a separate meeting is necessary for any reason, such as the need to address or unearth a confidential issue in depth, each of us can request such a meeting.

Now, let’s review and sign the agreement to mediate, and thanks again for your participation. We believe that your effort will be rewarded.

Does anyone have any questions before we begin?

Domenici, K., Domenici-Littlejohn, & Littlejohn, S. W. (2001). Mediation: Empowerment in Conflict Management, Second Edition (2nd ed., p. 198). Waveland Press.


Journal Entry: Mediation Chapter 4

05/24/2008

This chapter focused on the basic skills and structure required for mediation. It talked about the flexibility and overlap of the phases of mediation, and specifically about 4 likely phases of mediation. It progresses along a sometimes meandering path between introduction, storytelling, problem solving, and resolution phases (pp. 63-64).

During introduction, an agenda is set, people are introduced, mediation is defined, and hopefully, trust is established (pp. 69-71).

In storytelling, information and individual points of view are offered as a way of establishing a starting point of understanding of the issues at the present. Active listening is performed by disputants as part of the process (pp. 71-82). It is important during storytelling for the mediator to give regular feedback to disputants to ensure that the message being delivered is accurate, which is done by rephrasing, summarizing, asking questions, reframing, reflecting, and acknowledging. This must be done in a non-authoritative, nonthreatening manner, and it must not be perceived as judgmental or attacking. These tools can be used to increase clarity, improve transparency, diffuse tensions, identify commonality, and create empathy (p. 78).

In problem solving (p. 82), we take what we learned in storytelling, and we begin to sift out resolvable issues. This is done through a process of careful structuring of clarified issues, separation of issues from people, and the differentiation of goals from actions. An agenda may be built in order to allow each issue to be defined, clarified, and seen as solvable in and of itself. Much of this process can be guided using Fisher and Ury’s principled negotiation, so that ideologically, we can begin to see the actual solvable issues, away and apart from their chaotic context (pp. 82-95). Many options are generated as possibilities for solutions to issues. It is important for the disputants to be the primary source for solutions and be in clear agreement about how the issues can be resolved.

In the Resolution stage, we begin to record in the agreement what we have learned in terms of how to resolve the issues. It is at this stage that the physical agreement is filled out, signed, and agreed to.

Domenici, K., Domenici-Littlejohn, & Littlejohn, S. W. (2001). Mediation: Empowerment in Conflict Management, Second Edition (2nd ed., p. 198). Waveland Press.

Personal Experiential Influence:

I found the task of building your own mediation instruction very useful, and I’ve revised it once or twice in order to make it more realistic. When I first created my introduction using cards, it was very bullet-point oriented, and was hard in practice for me to actually remember all that I wanted to say. After I made it into more of a narrative script, I found it easier to really touch on all of the points that I wanted to. You can see both my original introduction solution on this blog as well as my latest revision. I plan on doing a recording of it on YouTube before the semester is over.


Introduction to Mediation

05/21/2008

Domenici and Littlejohn describe introduction in the 4 part mediation process as usually consisting of:

Introduction of mediators and parties, some words of encouragement, an explanation of the process and definitions of mediation and the mediator’s role, ground rules or communication guidelines, confidentiality provisions, caucus possibility, signing the agreement to mediate, and asking for questions (2001, p.65)

With this as a basis, if we as mediators were to approach two or more disputants in a surgery related dispute, such as specialist, hospital assigned doctor, trainer, patient, spouse, family doctor, we might begin to build our introduction in the following way.

  1. Since parties are likely familiar with each other, maybe we could reintroduce the roles of those involved, e.g.,perhaps each party could speak in turn stating an answer to the question, who are you, and what is your role here? The patient might answer “I am the patient, and I want to be able to walk without any sign of injury a year from now.”
  2. Focus on the main goals that are shared by all present, (e.g. a healthy patient with full or nearly full bodily functionality) but be careful not to determine those goals for participants.
  3. Mediator defines mediation, conflict, and her role in the process, e.g. empowerer not critic; goes over the four stages of mediation: Introduction, Storytelling, Problem Solving, Resolution and remind everyone that it is a nonlinear process (Domenici et al., 2001).
  4. Establish ground rules, in this case including no interruptions, 1 question many individual subsequent answers. notes may be taken.
  5. Confidentiality must be preserved – while the mediation will likely take place in a hospital, it could potentially take place away from the maternity ward. Any recordings other than the agreement and the agreement to participate in mediation will be destroyed.
  6. The ability to break into separate meetings, e.g. a caucus, in order to work out impasse issues in private.
  7. Sign the agreement to mediate. Discussion, questions, and answers.
  8. Ask for questions, concerns, issues, clarification, and final introductory thoughts before moving on.