RE: Toward a new US-World dialogue

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Wed 11 Dec 2002 - 19:22:41 GMT

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    >Hi Grant,
    >Yes, of course, so far, it is 'just talk.' And to goal is to create a way
    >of talk that leads to the influencing of ideas and actions....but it does
    >start with talk. The trick is to not let it end with talk.
    >Anyway: Thank you for the good starting questions. I've interpolated my
    >ideas in them.
    > > Taking first things first, a) where would we meet?
    >On the Net, via email, to begin with. Maybe later a list. Invitational, I
    >suppose, with emphasis on getting participation from thoughtful people
    >around the world.
    > > b) what kind of agenda does anyone propose?
    >I haven't proposed an agenda, but perhaps a good key launching question
    >might be:
    > - discussion of the emerging role of the US today in the world (social,
    >economic, political, cultural, technological and military). What are these
    >roles? How do they impact the world? What does 'the world' (with all its
    >differing views!) see in the US, and want of it? What does the US see and
    >want of the world? How are these views on target, and not on target?
    > > c) What do you think we could realistically accomplish?
    >At a minimum, it would be a fascinating and enlightening discussion. Beyond
    >that, I think we could assume that it would, depending on who was
    >participating in the dialogue, have a real effect on the thinking and
    >actions of some people in positions to make a difference in some countries.
    >Beyond that, it might give rise to projects, networks, and organizations
    >that are concerned with how things are going. I can easily see this
    >happening in the US, simply by piggy-backing on the efforts of existing
    >projects. And, if it all were to work extraordinarily well, we might even
    >see emerging from the dialogue views that were so profoundly useful that
    >they spread beyond the participants and affected the thinking and actions
    >large systems, for the better. This does happen, from time to time, and it
    >is not impossible that we might contribute to such a result.
    >d) How should we go about it?
    >Off-list discussions about how to organize this, how to proceed. The
    >immediate question is that of critical mass amongst ourselves. The response
    >on this list was minimal, so in our off-list discussion, we should include
    >the question of who might participate in the seed organizers of the
    >dialogue. Of course, within this seed group, we want some participation
    >a variety of societies.
    > > May the nitty get gritty
    >What do you think?
    >Best regards,
    > >
    > > Grant
    > >
    > >


    I think a good model for what you suggest is Edge magazine. It is as influential as anything I've read on the net and started much as you described. The key was that they managed go get key thinkers to join and contribute on a regular basis. If you don't read it already, you can check it out at

    Here is how they got started:

    Edge Foundation, Inc. This Web site is dedicated to the Memory of Heinz R. Pagels(1939 - 1988)

    About This Site

    Edge Foundation, Inc., was established in 1988 as an outgrowth of a group known as The Reality Club. Its informal membership includes of some of the most interesting minds in the world.

    The mandate of Edge Foundation is to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society. Edge Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit private operating foundation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

    Contributors to Edge own the copyright to their original writing posted on this site and their posting is in effect a license permitting Edge Foundation, Inc. the electronic use of this work. In the event Edge Foundation, Inc. wishes to use the work in a print medium it will not do so before asking and securing the written permission of the author. Edge Foundation, Inc. owns the cumulative copyright to the site.

    I also suggest that such a group start as a moderated list to keep contributions on topic and the quality high enough that it doesn't degenerate into combative arguments that have no relevance to the topic under discussion. I also suggest that the moderator set a topic each week or month and accept contributions of stories by professional writers from stuff that's available on the net and then invite the best of them to join the group. Our best chance of getting them to come in would be to choose wisely the things we put on the list and make sure they are of a quality that will challenge the people we invite to join us.

    Perhaps we can further model the list as a virtual Algonquin Round Table such as the New Yorker crowd put together back in the 30s and 40s. Of course, they would have to provide their own booze because you can't send that stuff over the net. If we choose the stuff wisely in the beginning, there would be a minimum of moderating needed later in the game. In the beginning it will take a search for good thinking and good writing to find stories that will attract good minds.

    Anyway, those are my suggestions for getting started. I'm open to any and all ideas from anyone else who wants to get involved. This is the time for brain stoming. I think Lawry should choose a web address or URL for us to get together on. Such things are free from a variety of sources. I don't like Yahoo much because they tie things up with passwords and protocols and fill the site with advetising.



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