BigThink.com has launched with the aim of providing a forum for discussion between 'thought leaders' like Richard Branson and Ted Kennedy and us lesser plebs.
The resource provides a platform for 'the growing global conversation about where we are and where we are headed', drawing opinions out of big cahunas in every walk of life. It combines journalist-produced interviews with said experts and user-created content.
Content from experts comes in the form of video-logs (vlogs), which can be voted up and down and commented on. So how it works is, you go watch Deepak Chopra talk about great love is, and if you think he's talking bumkin, you hit the thumbs-down symbol. Just like a Roman emperor at the Coliseum, only without the lions. Unfortunately...
The lineup of experts who have already contributed "Big Thinking" to the site is impressive. John McCain talks about 'Whether two parties is enough,' while on the sidebar Mit Romney is just itching to give you his two cents on Mormonism. The combined faculties of Harvard, Yale and Columbia appear to have contributed vlogs, while industry leaders like the former head man at Viacom and the VP at Goldman Sachs talk business.
While laudable in many ways, one questionable implication of a resource such as this is that it grants yet more weight to the opinions of the existing consensus-builders, and indeed grants them the status of 'Expert'. You may well buy into, say, Mary Robinson's stance on Human Rights (Robinson is a former President of Ireland and former UN Commissioner). But there again, you might find it laughably cheap and trite. The structure of the resource grants the established Experts the informational high ground, while minority voices get lost in the wild terrain of the Comments section. In short, this is an exercise in elitism. Which may or may not be a bad thing, but will certainly provoke debate.
Predictably, white, male experts currently predominate. Predictably, Judao-Christian ethical/moral considerations dominate spiritual conversation. The site is predictably America-centric. Predictably liberal in flavor.
But of course all this is more reflective of who is calling the shots in our humble global village than of any failure on the creators' behalf. In an effort to build consensus on global issues where else can they start, except with the established thought-leaders? BigThink is a big idea, and could be on the road to greatness. Equally, it could be well on its way to oblivion and monstrous unpaid server bills.
Either way, it's one experiment that many of us will be keeping an eye on.
Go on down to BigThink and have a look for yourself and if you can pry yourself away for 5 minutes - give us your opinion. But be warned, it's addictive.