Internet Communities Organize to Take on Global Economic Crisis

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March 3
Suppose the Internet existed in 1929. How might the Great Depression have been different? The Internet is a tool of global communication. If it had been available in the 1930s, the downturn and subsequent restructuring that became the Great Depression could have occurred faster and more efficiently, yielding less suffering.

Eighty years later, we are on the brink of such an economic turning point. How can we utilize the Internet to help prevent the suffering and hardships experienced in the 1930s?

This is the question being asked on communities all over the Internet, and it is the inspiration for a new Web site, ETP is a nonpartisan global think tank dedicated to utilizing the resources available to us to address the economic crisis and avoid a decade of poverty and warfare — and they’re recruiting.

The theory behind the site — inspired by recent research by thinkers such as Malcom Gladwell, Clay Shirky, James Surowiecki and Ray Kurzweil — is that a large international community of intellectually curious individuals, utilizing modern communications technology and cooperating as a whole, can achieve great things.

Edward Thompson, one of the site’s administrators, said: “We are facing a dramatic restructuring of our economy. The traditional steps for this process involve massive layoffs, stock sell-offs, crumbling consumer confidence, reduced spending, and then — after many years — a new economy rises from the ashes.

What if we could sidestep most of that? What if we could avoid much of the hardship and the potential for war, both civil and global, and simply restructure from where we are now? How would you do it?”

Thompson emphasized the pragmatic nature of the Web site: “ETP welcomes people from all political persuasions; nonetheless, we will not tolerate stubborn ideology. All ideas are welcome on our Web site; partisan politicking and finger-pointing are not. We are, first and foremost, solution-oriented.”

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