Mediation 3.0: the future of mediation

Author: Alessandra Grassi


I firmly believe that in the near future the cybernetic mediation will take the lion’s share in the scenario of alternative dispute resolution, thanks to the development of the web 3.0. and the need to exploit technology to make justice more efficient.

Mediation and technology, two extraordinary cultures that have crossed history on parallel roads, now finally converge in the so-called O.D.R., Online Dispute Resolution.

The birth of mediation, understood as a consensual negotiation process, can be dated to 1981, the year of publication of “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fischer and William Ury, which is a bit like the bible of the A.D.R., Alternative Dispute Resolution. Fischer and Ury proposed a completely new approach to respond to the increase in conflicts in society and to avoid the inefficiency of the courts.

1981 was also a crucial year for technology: on August 12, in New York, IBM presented the legendary 5150 to the press, kicking off the personal computer revolution.

More than thirty years have elapsed and if the ADRs, in the form of negotiations, mediation, arbitration, have helped to remove the conflict resolution from the courts, the PC has helped to bring technology into homes, jobs and any other place you can think of.

Just technological innovation is at the center of the challenge that, in the last decade, has been launched by the European Union which pushes on the one hand towards the digitization of the Member States and on the other towards the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution.

The world of Alternative Dispute Resolution and the digitalisation of processes is the European choice towards simplifying justice.

The regulatory and bureaucratic apparatus of our Country will have to adapt accordingly by means of a clear simplification of the processes that consistently follow the telematic evolution.

It is so evident that the Telematic Civil Process is just the beginning of overcoming past schemes with projects conceived and constructed wisely, oriented towards a future of effective and efficient justice.

These considerations and professional experience in mediation have led me to develop a Project to digitize the civil commercial mediation process.

Technology is a cultural and psychological challenge and we can win it, we must win it by cultivating awareness of its potential and its limits.

The consequences of technology are in the Project that precedes it and I believe that the Project should be a bearer of values and priorities, of the civic, ecological, economic and social sense of the men who thought it.

Being afraid of technology means being afraid of men.

The Project for the digitization of the civil commercial mediation procedure – called Accademia ODRÒ – takes up the challenge of digitizing the mediation process.

Digitize not only to fulfill legal obligations more quickly and simply but to allow a new organization of time, our most precious resource.

Its success will be determined to the extent that the mediators and lawyers, the mediation bodies, the Ministry will be able to translate their skills into the online environment.

I would like to propose a parallel between the evolution of technology and the evolution of the world of A.D.R., between the evolution of the web and the evolution of mediation.

I would start from a new definition of mediation, understood in its broader exception, of “space” in which the parties are free to informally discuss their problem towards the search for a solution.

In this space, which are the parts themselves to define and modulate, according to their needs, they are guided by an impartial third party that triggers a communication procedure with the aim of reconnecting them to each other. When the parts are “reconnected”, they identify a common space within which they can identify the solution to their problem.

Mediation understood, therefore, as a space.

Space that can also be cyberspace where people interact using computer-mediated communication technologies. The term today is commonly used to refer to the Internet.

In 1993 the technology at the base of the World Wide Web was published so that it could be freely implemented by anyone and it was immediately very successful, due to the features offered, its efficiency and its ease of use.

The Internet grew exponentially, in a few years it succeeded in changing society, transforming the way we work and relate.

In 1998 the concept of eEconomy was introduced.

The term Web 2.0 was coined in 1999.

Web 2.0 applications are made by people and for people. Therefore, the main difference between Web 2.0 and traditional Web, defined as Web 1.0, is collaboration.

Collaboration is a key element of the mediation process.

The mediator helps the parties to collaborate with each other in order to find a solution to their problem that satisfies both.

Therefore, with the advent of Web 2.0, we find ourselves in an era of participation, a time when all users have the power to contribute, regardless of background or location.

In mediation the parties are protagonists: the resolution of the problem is in their hands, they are the only ones that have the power to decide whether to find a solution or not and what solution to adopt.

The advent of Web 2.0 is marked by the development and use of tools that allow the exchange of information between users.

This is how the concept of mediation developed over the years, refining and expanding the negotiation techniques, improving communication, spreading its use in different sectors: commercial civil mediation, family mediation, corporate mediation, school mediation , tax mediation, sports mediation.

Now, the next technologies are used to create the Web 3.0.

It will be a semantic web, which we can define a “vision of information” made clear by computers, so that computers can perform the tedious work of finding, combining and acting on information on the web.

A fundamental concept useful for understanding the difference between web 2.0 and web 3.0 can be the reference to the difference between syntax and semantics, so as to bring out the reason why it is important for communicators, such as mediators.

Syntax is the formally accepted “grammar” of a language, it is its constituent components.

Semantics is the “meaning” of language.

I give an example “Blackberry”: same syntax -mora- and different semantics -fruit or telephone-.

When searching for the “Blackberry” web 2.0, the search is optimized for the word “blackberry” and the results obtained are not necessarily the most important content or relevant to the specific needs of those who carried out the search.

Web 2.0, with the strategy of “keywords”, only appoints things for what they are. Identify the syntax. Call a brunette a blackberry, but has no semantics, does not know the difference between the fruit or the phone.

The web must understand users and their specific needs.

So the mediator must understand the context in which the parties act, their specific needs, it is not enough to know the syntax, that is the “language of mediation” but it is necessary to know the semantics, that is the meaning of the mediation. The meaning and the context that specific mediation has for the parties and their lawyers, just at that moment.

In other words, the semantic Web will provide the precise content that a single individual is looking for, in the right format, at the right time, and probably much more.

Mediation 3.0 should become the context: the mediator, the parties, the lawyers do not undergo the mediation –download-, do not participate in the mediation –upload– but create the mediation to their measure, in their context, at that precise moment –immersion-.

A Project of digital innovation today appears to be the only realistic perspective not only for an efficient, quality justice and close to the citizens, but also to guarantee to all operators a better quality of their work and their contribution to justice itself.

For more information about the Project:


About the author:

Lawyer, Data Protection Officer and Mediator at AccademiAdr. Author of “Mediazione 3.0