About > Methodology
The Meedan methodology is about doing better listening. Listening informs everything we do: whether it is curating and translating from disparate cultural communities on a major world event, or providing a space for religious leaders to explore each other’s readings, or supporting teachers and students to share learning materials, or translating commentaries and blog posts for the world’s media. It all helps us listen outside our comfort zone, our immediate frame of reference.
Better listening is critical if our use of the web is to become truly ‘social’ – empathetic, aware, eager to learn. We often think of the web as a publishing space, but it is also a listening space where we come to learn and be challenged.
This vision inspires the hope that there might be fast emerging a new global multilingual civic capacity. As young people become more globally aware and form networks that cross boundaries of geography and culture, so new opportunities emerge for civic participation and knowledge exchange. With new translation methods pioneered by Meedan and others available to them, the globally minded young can share ideas and information, foster new collaborations, and jointly solve problems as never before. This is the long, optimistic view of new media that is already playing some part in changing the world.
Our emphasis on listening is not just about how we foster and moderate new forms of dialogue and knowledge exchange between previously disconnected cultural communities, but also about how we design the tools through which those connections become possible. Our design process is intrinsically about listening and learning from users.
Meedan designs and builds tools to make possible nuanced cultural experiences. We design systems that allow for flexibility without penalty. We are empathetic to the needs of users, beginning with user research and hewing closely to the lessons learned in collaboration with our online communities. We are humble in our response to user feedback, with a willingness to change our approach toward meeting higher level goals. And we are diverse in our implementation, with a willingness to adjust our strategy – and the technical capacity for doing so easily. The process forces us to be attentive to end users at every stage.
In listening more and better, we increase our chances of success. Systems that encourage greater network diversity and information exchange – systems in which we are encouraged to listen more widely – support innovation and collaboration.
In this sense, all global challenges, from climate change to conflict, are in some way dependent on the question of whether our tools for listening will ultimately increase the network diversity of information exchange or whether, given free choice to create our own channels and refine our information networks, we will evolve distribution structures that narrow our networks, and subsequently, narrow our thinking. Our goal is to improve network diversity by building and deploying tools and programs for empathetic cross-cultural knowledge exchange. Please do join us on the journey.