Most democracy tools or discussion tools these days operate using the same mechanism. People post things, then up or down vote other people's posts. Good posts float to the top and bad posts sink to bottom. However, this mechanism just encourages the discussion to become centralized around the few people who were voted into the stratosphere. Good ideas posted late in the discussion are never seen. Other perspectives are not considered.
The goal for patch is to distrupt this status quo. Discussion is separated into two phases: identifying the important issues, and solving them. During each phase, people submit posts. Patch would break the post into a set of main arguments and then group these main arguments. It then analyzes each group to pick out a sentence that represents that group. This way every perspective of every argument is visible. This analysis is done for both the issues and the solutions. Grouping is also done between issues and solutions to try and identify how the solution arguments relate to the issue arguments. Once this analysis is done, an instant runoff vote is run to determine the ranking of issues in terms of importance and of solutions for an issue.
As of now, we've implemented a good chunk of the linguistic analysis. Patch breaks down a post into a list of main arguments with each argument given a representative sentence. This ends up entirely implementing a hierarchical reader. At the top, you start with the representative sentence of the post. Drilling down, you see the representative sentence for each argument made in the post. Further down, you see every sentence in a given argument.