What is Cautionary Vigilance?

Cautionary Vigilance is a managed forum that invites public participation in the many specific debates that make up a controversy. The point is to help sift the evidence that eventually will resolve each debate. You are invited to explore this early prototype with an eye to helping critique and improve it.

Why is Flow Hive the subject matter for this prototype?

For this initial prototype we wanted to use a somewhat controversial topic, but nothing too life-threatening. We wanted to engage a passionate community (beekeepers are known to be very engaged) in a topic where the science is still emerging.

Flow Hive is an innovative approach to harvesting honey and is shaking up the beekeeping community. It is a meteoric crowdsourcing success story. Flow Hive launched their fundraising campaign on Indiegogo in early in 2015 to raise $70K.  Within 3 days they raised $2.9 million, selling a product for $600 that would not ship until almost one year later.

They have now raised $12.5 million from 37k backers…and will begin shipping products this spring. That means few people have had any real experience with the product but that has not stopped a lot of people from opining about its benefits and risks.

How do Hopes, Concerns, and Debates work?

Any controversial innovation is typically defended by its proponents and attacked by its skeptics.  In this Vigilance tool those perspectives are color coded green for support and red for opposition.

Vigilance works piecemeal.  Major points at issue for and against the innovation appear as Hopes and Concerns.  Each of those plays out in one or more Debates, and each Debate is made of a pair of opposing Arguments (red and green) that can be resolved, eventually, by Evidence.  

Every Debate has its own accompanying Discussion and an invitation to propose new Evidence.  Curators for each Debate determine what appears in the Arguments and Evidence for that Debate, drawing on material from the Discussion and elsewhere.  Curators also report in the Assessment section what the trend of Evidence is indicating about the outcome of the Debate.

What do the Curators do?

Curators manage the forum.  They ensure the clarity of everything on the Vigilance website,  They help the Debates and Discussion move toward resolution.  They are responsible for the succinct wording of Hopes, Concerns, and Arguments.  They evaluate and help clarify Evidence.  And they write (and update) the Assessment that accompanies each Debate.

Each Vigilance subject comes with a founding group of Curators committed to a neutral point of view, expressing allegiance to neither side of the controversy.  Their job is to make sure the debates are fair and clear.  As Discussion and Debates proceed, some participants, based on the quality of what they bring to the process, may be invited to take on the Curator role.

How does Discussion influence the Debates?

Public discussion and understanding is the whole point of Cautionary Vigilance.  

Discussion is also a tool for refining what appears throughout the Vigilance framework.  Curators are responsible for participating in each Debate’s discussion, alert to suggestions for possible improvement of every element of the Debate—its Arguments, Evidence, and Assessment.  They are also responsible, along with every participant, for helping keep the discourse courteous and cogent.

Occasionally a whole new valid Debate may emerge from Discussion.

What is Evidence?

Good Evidence is relevant and verifiable.

The test always is: can the research and its findings be replicated?  The most useful evidence is statistical rather than anecdotal—the result of many comparative trials rather than one trial.  Direct evidence is better than indirect: the evidence concerns the innovation itself rather than related innovations.  Hearsay is not evidence.

Documentation is required—links to peer-reviewed published sources, to complete methodology, to videos.  Wikipedia forbids original research; Cautionary Vigilance encourages it.

All Evidence is provisional.  It may be replaced by new and deeper research, by adaptations in the controversial innovation or the way it is deployed, or by improvements in the relevant science or engineering.

What is Assessment for?

Assessment offers a glimpse at the state of play of a Debate.  As the Evidence accumulates, it will indicate that one Argument or the other is ahead or even victorious.  The Curators are responsible for making that evaluation and expressing it in the Assessment.  

The Assessment symbols signify the following:

▼  Concern Argument winning

▼  Concern Argument somewhat ahead

¤   Inconclusive

▲  Hope Argument somewhat ahead

▲  Hope Argument winning