echo is a joint Open Source project for active citizen participation – available worldwideand for all people. Its comprehensive approach is designed to address a core problem of our time: the political resignation and feelings of powerlessness of the individual.
“Discuss – Connect – Act!“ – The social software facilitates constructive, cross-language public dialogs for opinion formation and collective solution finding. It connects people sharing common purposes and supports them in creating joint actions for social and political impact. Wherever we are in the virtual or real world, echo gives us the proof: we are no longer alone with our opinion and convictions – the echo of our voice can turn idea(l)s into reality.
Why do we need echo?
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.
What is echo?
echo is the instrument for a new kind of participatory democracy facing these challenges. Unlike usual Web 2.0 applications, echo provides a clearly structured opinion base and allows for a solution-oriented social collaboration. It unites technical innovation and human scientific knowledge into a unique concept. This helps people to better understand backgrounds and interrelations of topics, jointly make sound decisions and turn them into reality. Accordingly, echo comes with three main functional areas: Discuss – Connect – Act!
Through the combination of these three functional areas, echo establishes a virtual space for a fully democratic collaboration, which is able to lead to visible results in everyday life of the people with minimal effort.
Additionally, by spreading its functionality beyond the limits of individual websites, echo lets all forces be bundled for a sustainable change throughout the whole internet.
“echocracy” stands for the new form of participatory democracy of echo. It empowers you and people from all over the world to jointly discuss issues of common interest and to develop and implement the best possible solutions to these issues.
echo facilitates this process through a deliberative intercultural discourse, where competences from the most important segments of society are all incorporated into a collective decision making process. These segments of society are:
- Citizens and impacted people (with competence with regard to needs)
- Experts and scientists (with professional competence)
- Politicians and other representatives (with decision making competence)
- Non-governmental and governmental organizations (with action competence & mobilization potential)
On echo, actors from these competence groups all engage in an equal dialogue. This not only ensures total transparency throughout the whole decision making process, it also enables people to shape our common world by novel means.
On echo, the global agora, all participants are equal, free world citizens!
A vivid participation in decision making and civil engagement in all countries is echo’s main objective. Engaged citizens already actively campaigning for a peaceful, equitable and sustainable future are therefore the most important actors on echo and can especially benefit from the new possibilities it offers:
- Informative opinion base « okay
- Effortless finding of public discussions in your neighborhood, region and the world
- Easily comprehensible positions of different social groups and regions
- Self-determination « okay
- Direct participation in decision making concerning your very local living space and the future of our common world
- Convincing others of own views
- Rapid connection with like-minded people
- Easy organization and support of real-world actions
- Strengthened “we“ feeling « okay
- Joint, direct contribution to sustainability and global justice
- Relief from a feeling of powerlessness « okay
- Achievements visible in your everyday life
- Viral spreading and growing participation in society
Experts & Scientists
Through their research work and new findings, experts and scientists provide socio-political decisions with a solid fundament. With their professional know-how, they can make significant contributions to the quality of discussions and to the development of adequate solution proposals. For this reason, they are vitally important actors on echo and can benefit from its new opportunities in several ways:
- Improved scientific discourse « okay
- Joint formulation of new findings with colleagues in own working groups and networks
- Transparent debates with clearly differentiated positions of different scientific disciplines
- Efficient exchange of knowledge and experience by connecting experts transnationally and interculturally
- Advantages on the academic job market « okay
- Presentation of the own academic profile
- Direct access to staff members and responsible officers of interesting research programs
- New positions through free fundraising for new research projects
- More influence on socio-political decisions « okay
- Direct participation in decision making
- Raising awareness in the society for challenges of our times
- Effective diffusion of scientific findings through easily comprehensible presentation of own positions and arguments
Political and economic decision makers carry the largest social responsibility. They must decide what best serves the common good and negotiate feasible solutions with all stakeholders. Therefore, their participation in discussions on echo is of essential importance. If their efforts are to result in sustainable improvements, they need to win broad support from civil societyfor their proposals. Thus, a comprehensible presentation of their goals and a deep understanding of the citizen´s needs are basic prerequisits for their success. echo offers unique opportunities to politicians and other representatives to significantly increase the effectivity of their work:
- Detailed opinion base « okay
- Clear overview of the main needs and opinions of voters
- Detailed information on the support of certain positions by different social groups and regions
- Optimized infrastructure for internal collaboration « okay
- Time and space independent intra- and trans-parliamentarian collaboration (e.g. national ↔ international fractions)
- Effective and transparent decision making between different administrative levels (municipal ↔ state ↔ EU)
- Convincing address to voters « okay
- Reaching millions of politically mature citizens directly
- Easily comprehensible presentation of own proposals and arguments
- Clear comparison of different manifestos and own vs. alternative positions on specific topics
Non-governmental & Governmental Organisations
Non-governmental and governmental organizations (NGOs, citizens´ initiatives, political parties, trade unions, cities and municipalities) are already in the focus of society and politics and are therefore indispensable actors on echo. They are opinion leaders, they plan actions and campaigns and seek to mobilize a broad range of supporters for them. echo provides organisations with unique opportunities helping them to successfully accomplish their goals:
- Optimized internal collaboration « okay
- Joint elaboration of ideas, convincing arguments and proposals with their own experts and supporters
- Increased political influence « okay
- Visible participation in public discussions
- Influence on the public opinion and socio-political decisions
- Mobilization of supporters « okay
- Reaching millions of engaged citizens easily
- Comprehensible presentation of own views and arguments
- Viral spreading of own campaigns and actions
- Rising financial support « okay
- Free fundraising and a growing number of supporters
- Increased motivation through cost-neutral donations
- More trust and emotional commitment on the part of supporters through transparency and direct participation in actions
A little “h” can make a huge difference!
Accordingly, “echonomy” stands for an eco-social democratic economy committed to basic ethical values in our globalized world:
- Sustainability instead of unconditional growth (eco)
- Cooperation instead of being forced to compete (social)
- Active participation instead of passive dependence (democratic)
echo´s corporate philosophy reflects these values in several ways and aims to be a model for a new kind of corporate culture. Its solutions also seek to foster socially and ecologically sustainable business management and a democratization of existing corporate and economic structures.
Finance your actions without financial effort!
echo combines a non-profit philosophy with powerful business models. “Powerful“ does not merely mean working cost-neutral. It also means helping people and organizations to provide their actions with the necessary funds. For this puropse, echo offers you various cost-neutral ways to collect money on your personal virtual account. All funds collected in these ways can then be donated to actions and projects of organisations, interest groups and individuals according to your preferences.
In this way, your virtual engagement can influence our real world in a positive way.
By providing you with more self-determination and enabling you to achieve visible changes in your everyday life, echo helps you to free yourself from your sense of powerlessness and restore your faith in democracy.
Besides facilitating direct donations in a cost-neutral manner, echo employs several business models to generate considerable earnings through its commercial users. All surpluses will be transferred completely to the Echonomy Foundation, providing total transparency of echo’s finances. This foundation will be established for the exclusive purpose of supporting innovative projects according to democratic decisions of the users of echo.
By offering you an easy and cost-neutral way of financing large joint projects, your virtual engagement can lead to sustainable changes in our world.
echo is designed to be a self-organizing system. Its novel decision making method is perfectly apt for decisions concerning its own rules and functions. In this way all users can participate increasingly in the evolution of echo, resulting in a stable self-administration at the end of this process.
As echo is an instrument of democratic decision making, maintaining political and financial independence is of vital importance. In order to ensure such independence in the long term, echo will gradually be passed into the hands of all its users at any given time.
In this way, echo becomes the quasi property of humanity: You decide what happens on echo. You define how echo works. You are echo!