Our project Atlantic Community is admittedly ambitious. We claim not only to function as an author-driven online magazine, but also as an “Open Think Tank on Global Issues” that is guided by collective intelligence. We are also not particularly modest in the belief that this approach will allow the recommendations of informed citizens to influence actual decision-making in the realms of public and foreign policy. For us a lot hinges on the effectiveness of this so-called ‘collective intelligence.’
The theory of collective intelligence holds that groups can be smarter than individual expert knowledge. George Pór, a pioneer in collective intelligence theory, defined the phenomenon as “the capacity of human communities to evolve towards higher order complexity and harmony, through such innovation mechanisms as differentiation and integration, competition and collaboration.” Today we have evidence, for instance, that the Wikipedia model is a success. Studies have shown that Wikipedia is (almost) as trustworthy as standard encyclopedias. The sum of its contributions yields an intelligence that seemingly has a mind of its own; a unique organism has, in effect, taken hold.
In the attempt to create a format that truly utilizes collective intelligence, the Atlantic Community has tried to answer two basic questions:
First, how do we generate collective intelligence? As a basic prerequisite, the ideas and analysis of the users have to be informed, original and solution oriented. In order to trigger this quality, we provide valuable background information in our Context column. More importantly, we present our readers with thought-provoking impulses by excellent authors in the Policy Workshop. We believe that a mix of people that cuts across generations, nations, disciplines and cultures makes all the difference - and: only sound arguments matter! We are confident that this approach will generate unorthodox, but realistic solutions to world problems. In other words: we envision a new way of communication by pitching different actors and their thoughts against each other. This concept of competition among ideas is instrumental to the true nature of collective intelligence; to the theory itself, as well as its implementation on the Atlantic Community.
In the future, we aim to provide Executive Summaries which will harness the energy and innovation inherent in collective intelligence. There we will showcase the best ideas from Policy Workshop discussions and distill them into applicable solutions for opinion leaders and policy makers. Our editorial team will identify and assemble your arguments – to the best of their knowledge and with the help of ratings generated by users.
We believe in the strength of collective intelligence and are confident in its applicability, but generating recommendations based on it is just the first step in our modus operandi. The second question for us is therefore: How can we make sure that our work influences decision-makers?
The Atlantic Community is based in Berlin. Our ties with the government and the parliament here are close. We are confident that we can channel our executive summaries to decision-makers and their staff and that they will be read by a considerable number of them. How do we plan on achieving the same in other countries and capitals? How can we create a sustainable network of users in all the other countries that are able to connect with decision-makers? We envision a satellite system of collaborators from our community. Above all, the Atlantic Community is an interconnected network of opinions without borders. But, in the spirit of collective intelligence we ask you directly: What are your thoughts on the Atlantic Community’s potential?
Without your contribution, the logic of the open think tank will not work. We therefore sincerely invite you to think of this site as yours. It is our motivation to provide an effective framework for your political participation in the truest sense of the word.
Dr. Johannes Bohnen is co-founder of the Atlantische Initiative and publisher of the Atlantic Community. He also works as a political entrepreneur and self-employed public affairs consultant in Berlin.
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