Wednesday, April 25, 2007

think tank, redux

I had this thought the other day... okay, it was in Oct, 2005, but I'm gonna share it with you, again.

According to
George Lakoff, there are far more Conservative Think Tanks than there are Liberal ones (I didnt confirm this). Whether this is a money issue, or an organization issue, he didnt say, and frankly, it's irrelevant to my thought. Which is this:

Why dont bloggers start forming Think Tanks?

After all, what is really necessary for a Think Tank. Money? Suits? Donuts? Unused corporate boardrooms and a spare secretary or two? A cynical desire to destroy freedom-loving American workers for personal profit and power?
All you need are some people, some ideas, and a willingness to discuss those ideas, add new ones, or throw away untenable ones. And then, a press release or two. That's it.

It might be helpful if one of the think tank members was a Name, someone who might make those press releases more exciting to media outlets. It's not necessary though.

Imagine this: A group of bloggers set up a blog site, calling it, oh, I dont know, "Bloggers For A Progressive America". Members post an idea, then other members comment on it (or even non-members). Eventually someone takes the original post and, with its comments, reworks it up into a position paper-like thing, and re-posts it. More commentary, more reworking, more reposting. Eventually, consensus is reached, a final draft for release is worked up, and the Media is informed (bloggers as well as traditional media). Maybe copies are sent to the Democratic Party, or other Liberal think tanks. Go ahead, blogwhore your think tank, dont be shy.
At first, no one will notice, even with a Name blogger (unless maybe it's a really big name), but if you persist (and your ideas and/or presentation dont suck), recognition and discussion and, dare we say, Implementation of your Ideas may actually occur. Most bloggers started out as lonely voices in the crowd and some (in theory, the best) have risen to the top. Why should blogger-based think tanks be any better?
David Brin theorizes a coming "Age of Amateurs" in which amateur groups take over the function of many of the things currently controlled by Professionals now (possibly due to budget cuts?). Why not Think Tanks also? And even if nothing ever happens as far as widespread recognition of your ideas, so what. Will that make any thoughts or insights your think tank may come up with less valuable?
Start enough amateur think tanks, and something good and useful ought to come out of it, if only to get people more involved in issues and politics, and acting on that involvement, moving beyond mere talking. Talking is important, and everyone can do it, but eventually some of those talkers need to move up to something more.

nice quote from coturnix, which, while it wasnt addressing my Idea, dovetails with it nicely:

While old Big Blogs are themselves centers of the Universe from which all opinion radiates, small blogs have a different strategy. Large blogrolls, lots of blogwhoring, commenting on each others blogs, linking to each others posts - those are all strategies to gain one's visibility, with a consequence of new knots forming. These new knots are much larger than knots of Big blogs. Several dozens of blogs in each knot keep linking to each other all the time, and the knots get bigger and bigger, connecting to each other, forming a really extensive web which only tangentially includes the Big Old Ones.
This kind of structure, this "blogging neighborhood", if you will, could be used for forming a think tank. Imagine hundreds, thousands of these groups. Talk about your Power to the People!

Anyway, that's my idea. I cant do it alone (to be honest, I'm not really of the temperament to do it at all), but I can come up with it and hope that it makes it's way out there by osmosis. Probably it already exists, in some form I've not yet heard of. Or maybe I've seen it and just never recognised it (blogstorms, perhaps). The important thing is to come up with a way to combat the Conservative think tanks, to fight their fire with a fire extinguisher (better metaphor, really, considering the destructive nature of what seems to be coming from Conservatives these days).
So, I've thrown my thoughts out into the void, and now I'll watch and wait, hoping for an echo.



Anonymous said...

fantastically informative with the hyperlinks and a very big thanks for posting this map. You've hit on something here that I think any number of people or organizations are indeed thinking about and working towards, the self included [though I do have a fondness for modeling my individual ideas on this notion after Franklins 'Leather Apron Society'] Dynamics are changing, the tools have changed, and I can't help but think that we are like a big bunch of children with a big complicated new toy that we can only press the buttons to 'see what that one does'. Give it some time and we'll really start learning how to use this thing in extraordinarily cool ways that we never imangined. Eh?

daveawayfromhome said...

Always assuming, of course, that opposing forces do not manipulate or otherwise co-opt it away from us. Suggested method, maybe using that bill/law passed last year some time that allows greater/faster internet access to those who "pay" for it, leaving us ordinary users (who get our internet service for free, doncha' know) behind in the dust.

Anonymous said...

Am I mistaken in thinking that the net-neutrality issue is still tied up in the Senate?

daveawayfromhome said...

"net-neutrality", that's the term! Dunno, maybe. I sure hope so, because it sounded like an a-number-one screw-job for all of us, except Big Money, of course.

Anonymous said...

Oh, but it is a screw-job of the highest order, put some feelers out to my intel-net and should be able to shoot you the most current info in the next couple of days if you wish. But how do you get these kids today to pay attention to the issue (that oh-so-does very much effect them) to stop watching the 'poping a giant zit' videos on you-tube and pipe up to their reps? (some of the most viewed, those cysts)

daveawayfromhome said...

Maybe explain to them how their U-tube videos will have a much lower priority than the already first-in-line ads that are so annoying. Imagine those ads with bandwidth priority, and how much larger they'll get. And here many of us bloggers are, feeding that industry for a few measly pieces of advertising silver a month (you'll notice the only ad on my blog is a fake one).

rev. billy bob gisher ©2008 said...

tell them all they can get if it goes through is

Anonymous said...

This is irrelevant to your point, but have you actually looked at the diagram that you used for some examples? Cal-Berkeley? The New York Times? These are examples of "conservative think tanks and affiliated organizations"? Doesn't really pass the smell test, does it? It would be interesting to see their categorization criteria, wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

thought the same thing about the U of M being in the red category, but then thought maybe it has factors like who sits on governing boards etc. Just a thought...anyway, this is the most recent article that I could find on the neutrality legislation,

most other stuff out there is about a year old. The COPE act is tied into the whole thing as well. Google COPE act and you'll get links (and a lot of them) to the actual house and senate bills.

Anonymous said...

going to have to re-do the first link there, but as far as the research criteria goes

spells out their methodology of network analysis fairly well.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

punch net neutrality into their search bar and it's the second story. Having a problem with the cut+paste today...

daveawayfromhome said...

O Brother of Mine, you might want to take another look at that image. While my screen here at work is too crappy to read much, I can see it well enough to know that the red dots are "conservative", so I'd assume the blue are "liberal", and I've got no clue about the purpley ones, but they're probably middle-of-the road (sorry, I didnt actually look too closely at the image, I was actually just gussying up the post - that it actually fits well is a bonus).

As for the NYT not being conservative, do they not pay David Brooks, apologist extraordinaire? It wasnt until the Bush Administration started throwing hissy fits because the NYT (and others) dared to question him that anyone besides the Right Wing faithful thought that the Media, corporatized, conglomerized and compromised, was not not too conservative (the "Liberal Press" is, oh, I dont know, Item #4 or #5 in The Big Book Of Republican Lies).

@ s. holster: you must learn the joys of the "a href" command. I dont know much HTML, but that one's a keeper.