I wanted to gather a few academically minded people together to work on a selection of essays which we could then 'publish' (perhaps even as a real book) as a set. These would go some way towards thinking through and discussing who we are, what we think, and what we stand for. This would serve to both give us a clearer image of ourselves, and to present a well argued description of ourselves to others. I scribbled down in my notebook the titles of these essays, planning to put out a call to skilled and/or willing thinkers/writers to pick an essay each, with me taking the hard/easy task of nudging people along and editing it together as a single well conceived entity. This roaring success would then be possibly followed by more such work.
I think however we can actually be a little bolder. I still want to go ahead with my call for authors of essays, however I think it would be better done within the context of a more formalised entity. To shamelessly (and maybe out of context) grab a quote from another thread:
epriezka wrote:What I'd like to see is that we start realizing this internet forum is badly underpowered as an environment to work out a coherent position on genuinely complicated topics. You know, the kind of genuinely complicated topics that stem from new technology, a changing world, that sort of stuff.
With this in mind, I think it would be a great idea to create a think tank oriented towards investing time and thought into 'genuinely complicated topics' and arrive at a coherent position. Importantly this is not a PPUK policy group I want to form, and the product of such a think tank should not be regarded as PPUK opinion or policy. Rather, instead, as the opinion of an entity which regards itself as sharing and holding PPUK's values. It would be up to the PPUK to choose or ignore any 'research' product of such a think tank. Likewise the think tank would not be limited to PPUK policy areas.
I don't want a totally open free for all for coming up with PPUK policy, I want a closed-circle of like-minded individuals formalising their own thoughts into a coherent argument, and presenting it for consideration to the outside world. I would hope that the PPUK members would look upon such a product and say "yes, that explains exactly what we think", at which point the free for all open discussion could begin.
(I have thought long and hard about whether I'm actually suggesting is just a backwards, old fashioned, closed off discussion that is the opposite of what we should be doing. I don't think so, but if no-one agrees with me that this think tank is a good idea, I may have to think again.)
To get this off the ground I am looking for a group of people (preferably who think this is a good idea) to get in touch with me (either by a reply here or via pm) and we can start formalising the shape and form of this proposed entity. As I believe a set of essays would be a good starting point, I am initially most interested in those skilled at academic research and writing. Beyond that anyone wanting to exercise their brain is also welcome.
I even have what I think is a good name for the think tank. But I shall tantalise and leave that for later.