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Using the Internet for

Multiparty Dispute Resolution

Colin Rule

Director of Online Dispute Resolution

eBay / PayPal

December 9, 2010
ADR Technology / Internet Tools
Meeting Support
– Dynamic projection systems
– Real-time feedback
– Brainstorming
– Voting and rating tools
– Real-time editing
– Audio / Video conferencing

Online Data and Communications Management

– Full-text searching
– Document management systems
– Online scheduling / Project Management
– Email broadcasts / email newsletters
ADR Technology / Internet Tools (2)
Online Interactivity
– Synchronous meetings (chat, IM, shared desktops)

– Threaded discussion environments

– Polling / Surveys
– Joint document editing systems
– Social Networks

Mapping / Decision Support

– Visualization
– Modeling
– Scenario Development
– Governance
– Trade off analysis
Utility of Technology Tool Types at Each Stage of Engagement and Consensus Building Processes
Explore/Inform Consult Advise Decide Implement

Surveys / polling / comment

collection and analysis

Social Networking

Web forums / email lists

Trade off Analysis / Decision

Aiding / Online Deliberative
Modeling / simulation

Project Management /

Visioning / Scenario

Mapping / Visualization

Governance support
• Lightens administrative load on neutrals
– Easy information dissemination
– Document and information repository
• Allows for both targeted and asynchronous
• Supports in-meeting tasks
• Enables participants to make progress between meetings
• Can engage people across wide geographic areas where
face-to-face meetings are impractical
• Dynamic reframing
• Concurrent caucusing
• Some are threatened by technology

• Things can go wrong

• Facilitators can lose control
– Parties are more able to communicate among themselves
– Mediators can overreact and misuse online power
• Discussions can end up focusing on the technology and
not the issues that need to be addressed
• Technology may advantage some parties over others
– Those with fast internet connections
– Those who are comfortable with technology
– Those who type fast (especially in synchronous
Who can benefit from technology
in multiparty processes?

Federal/state/local governments and agencies, for:

- rulemaking
- policy dialogues
- dispute handling systems
- expert panels

ADR Service Providers, for:

- partnering on ODR-enabled processes
- technology planning and design
- facilitation/mediation
- pre-meeting preparation
- post-meeting follow-up
• Public Dispute Resolution sponsors,
providers, and participants will come to use
technology more extensively
• The tools will become more sophisticated
– More user friendly
– Better integrated and tested for stability
– Improved support materials (help files, user manuals)
• Users will become more comfortable with technology
– Parties will come to expect that online interaction
options will be available to them
– Funders will ask for online components in proposals
• Technology decisions need to be well considered and
thought out thoroughly in advance of implementation