Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ODR - Online Dispute Resolution

I listened to a live streaming broadcast on http://www.blogtalkradio.com regarding Understanding the Benefits of Online Dispute Resolution. This show was produced for Cyberweek 2011 - the annual virtual conference dedicated to the innovations and developments of ODR by the Werner Institute at Creighton University via ADRHub.com. This show broadly discussed how online dispute resolution processes are used to deal with disputes. Some examples were the voluminous complaints associated with eBay customers and vendors. Other elements of the discussion were geared toward using technology to communicate with mediation participants and even software for moving the positions of the parties. While this may work well in some contexts, I find that the parties' physical presence is integral to the process and must occur in certain types of disputes. Face to face meetings with the help of the facilitator can be crucial in cases involving personal injury and small business. The broadcast outlined various forms of ODR processes, and the benefits and challenges to using virtual communications, including email and Skype. The show, hosted by Texas mediator, Pattie Porter, contained highlights from ODR experts in the field Dan Rainey, Colin Rule, and Noam Ebner. It appears we are increasingly utilizing technology in ADR, but perhaps not yet on the verge of virtual mediation. Some longtime services like CyberSettle have found success in limited areas, such as a computer-assisted system for settling insurance claims. However, for thousands of years, the personal interaction of the neutral third-party mediator working directly with the parties has been essential to the process and will likely remain a part of modern dispute resolution.