Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I share your point of view.

I think ET is a unique place where a high-level collective debate can take place while being open to anyone who wants to participate.  It is a unique place for sharing information and knowledge and I have learnt a lot here. In fact, it is one of the best examples of collective intelligence-building I know. Participating in ET is an asset and I think we all benefit from the knowledge we've acquired through ET in our professional or broader social activities.

While I understand those who would like to see this extraordinary intellectual potential better exploited, I am very sceptical about ET becoming a consulting organisation or a think-tank for several reasons. First of all, I have been working in the consulting business and with think-tanks for years and I know how hard it would be to convince potential customers of the specific added value of ET and to establish our credibility in a sector where the competition is very hard. Except for a limited number of persons who know it, ET is not a brand yet.

But the most important issue is that if we were to develop this kind of activities, it would have a major impact on the nature of ET, the way it functions and on its image. Why? First, consulting and online collective blogging don't have the same purposes, timelines and priorities, nor do they require the same skills and work organisation, so make them coexist would be very difficult. Also, combining non-for-profit and for-profit activities within the same organisation is almost impossible; I know several organisations that tried to do it and none of them have succeeded. ET contributors involved in business-oriented projects would inevitably focus their time and energy on these projects. Finally the ET image would be blurred: for our audience, a key asset of ET is the fact that we have nothing to sell.

However, ET can be a place where people can meet, discuss projects proposals and create ad hoc teams around common projects. It is already the case and the more it happens, the better. We could even expect those who have started successful projects thanks to ET to make a financial contribution. But these project's are ET's by-products, not it's raison d'être and that doesn't make ET a think-tank, nor a consulting organisation.

I agree with you: our first goal should be to develop our audience both by expanding our users base and by building a network of media (the press, blogs...) who would channel our ideas or link to our debates.  The recent links with PSEmanifesto and the LibDems show it is possible.

We have been very successful in drafting LTEs and Op-eds. I think we should focus on producing more of them. In order to do so, we should improve the way we work, maybe by adopting collaborative tools.  We could also produce more in-depth contributions (a ~10 pages note) on some issues. I doubt we can easily make a summary of our debates: it would require a lot of work. I think it's better to identify an issue on which we would like to draft a note, to define the document's plan and to collectively work on it.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Nov 9th, 2007 at 08:45:06 AM EST
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