echo – The Global Agora – Rethinking Democracy

7. April 2010 – 19:18 by echo source

As we now have been PEP-NET member for about two months, we now finally would like to introduce echo to the ones who may not knows us yet - better late than never ;-)

Motivation and image

Today humanity is facing some serious environmental, economic and humanitarian challenges never seen before. However, satisfactory solutions are not in sight. The lack of transparency in political decision making provokes a growing sense of powerlessness and political resignation among the population and weakens people’s faith in democracy. Calls for transparency and more participation are growing louder.

The current crises can thus be understood as a general crisis of democracy.

New ways have to be found, empowering people to develop constructive solutions to effectively tackle our “glocal” challenges. This is why echo has been founded: As a platform for sustainable change and active citizen participation echo enables a new form of non-partisan participatory democracy on local, regional and global level. With echo the first web-application is being developed to enable collective intelligence through democratic discourse even with a virtually unlimited number of participants.

echo offers a quick overview of interesting discussions, gives people an opportunity to voice their opinions in a deliberative discourse and to jointly find the right solutions. On echo, people can connect with allies, experts and decision makers and together turn their decision into reality.

echo consists of three clearly separated functional areas, which at the same time are tightly interwoven:

Discuss, Connect, Act!

Discuss is the core area, which contains most unique features and enables collective intelligence to emerge. The discussions taking place in the discussion area offer a differentiated overview of the different statements edited and supported by certain regions or societal groups.

Every statement is edited through a self organized democratic process (without the need of moderators or admins). Thanks to the new semantic cross-language search engine, users can find easily a comprehensive selection of relevant information. With only minimal effort thousands of users can contribute to the dynamic evolution of sound statements.

Connect offers users an easy possibility to organizes their contacts, add interesting experts and opinion leaders their personal network and to connect people with specific competences relevant to a certain subject. To enhance usability and foster a viral growth there will be interfaces connecting several external social networks like twitter and facebook.

Act! motivates the participants of discussions to proactively launch actions and projects, to jointly turn their ideas and visions into reality, and thus, make change visible in every day life. To do so, echo offers a virtual work space equipped with the necessary tools and information to efficiently plan and accomplish different kinds of actions and projects and found eco-socially sustainable businesses.

As most actions and projects will need funding, echo is based on powerful business models. “Powerful“ does not merely mean working cost-covering. It also means helping users to provide their actions with the necessary funds. This enables people to accomplish their goals and lets their virtual engagement influence our real world in a positive way, which is the key to motivate ever more people to participate on echo. Thus, the comprehensive concept of echo has true potential to free people from their sense of powerlessness, offer them a way of successful self-determination and help them restore their faith in democracy.

Create Synergies

In order to overcome the limitations of individual platforms, echo employs a distributed approach and makes its functionality available throughout the whole Internet. Accordingly, relevant discussions and actions from echo can be displayed and edited on any web page and blog. In this way, echo complements the functionality of other platforms and creates true synergies, instead of hamstringing competition.

Shared User- and Opinion Base

Through cooperation with echo, partner platforms connect their communities with each other. This way, their different user groups are joint together in a single cross-platform community. The users can now connect throughout all platforms, discuss and jointly launch actions and projects.

Moreover, echo addresses to users on a larger scale exceeding such groups from existing platforms through an extended network with further organizations. This in turn, multiplies the range and influence of each single partner platform. Projects and campaigns profit from the viral dissemination and its huge and highly motivated community.

Discussions on issues, which are relevant to the different partner platforms can be initiated on any other partner platform, thus, enriching discussions and making them more interesting and alive. This way a much broader opinion base is formed, as possibly could emerge on any single platform. New impulses and issues flow back and forth, enriching discussions and rising the attractiveness of all partner platforms.

This thematic diversity – covering different thematic fields and ranging broadly and deeply into society – rises virality enormously. The synergetic effects allow for a common development of content throughout different communities, which offers interesting information to virtually every Internet user. Thus, the influence of the proposals elaborated in this distributed system will boost its influence on society enormously.


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