Three years ago (maybe 4) I met Erik Wachtmeister, the founder of A Small World and heard about his idea to start the social site for the jet set. I liked it, I figured that great parties would come out of it but I immediately thought that something more interesting that getting jet setters in a web site would to get the smartest people in the world in a web site. And together with my friends Andrew McLaughlin (Chief Policy Officer of Google) and Joshua Ramo of Kissinger Associates we thought of starting A Smart World.  The concept was a social site for intellectuals, scientists, writers, professors or anyone who his peers would consider a “relevant, creative thinker”.  But the idea never got off the ground as we were all very busy with our own jobs and projects. But recently I came across examples of A Smart World in different formats. One is BigThink, the vlogging site for the “smart” (horribly designed btw). Another one is Culture Hub, Stan Stalnaker´s project (I ran into Stan at a party in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay this week).  Yet nobody seems to get it totally right.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter:

No Comments

EB on January 9, 2008  ·

3.0 rating

nos_hemos_vuelto_locos? on January 9, 2008  · 

How exactly do you determine who qualifies as the “smartest people in the world”? Would you test their IQ? Would you only accept people from elite colleges? -remember, George W. went to an Ivy League school… 🙂
Would you accept Nobel prize winners -such as, say Arafat, if he were alive?
You would need a hell of an anti-troll feature… there’s a lot of idiots out there pretending to be smart.

I encourage you to post this on your Spanish site. I think it could bring up a lot of interesting discussion about what “smart” means.

3.0 rating

Chi-Wai on January 9, 2008  · 

TED’s best by far I think, though it’s a different set up. Also Fora TV has been running for quite some time.

3.0 rating

Hasan on January 9, 2008  · 

Being a programmer with 2 homes, I have been thinking about doing something like this myself.
If at all possible, please leave a comment on my blog or drop me an email with your ideas on how to do this site properly. Many thanks!

3.0 rating

ismael on January 10, 2008  · 

Totally agree with nos_hemos_vuelto_locos, although my examples would be different, which just proves the point.

The more worrying concept for me is a group of people who include themselves in an intellectual elite. The concept is so introverted, that the alternative of having everybody included seems more attractive, though flawed – after all that is what democracy is, not ideal, but the best we’ve got. I certainly wish at times that only an educated majority were allowed to vote, but where does one draw the thresh-hold?

3.0 rating

Perell on January 10, 2008  · 

Juas, juas!

Sorry for the spanish onomatopoeia!

A killer web! No doubt!
Everybody dream’s of being/becomming a smart guy!

The point is to let everybody in! Cause being a bit stupid/moron is human nature!

I would find particularly interesting a site who could shelter bon-vivants!


3.0 rating

Martin Varsavsky on January 10, 2008  · 

Well Ismael,

Columbia University, where I studied, would be a subset of A Smart World. Is it unfair that Columbia University only takes a very small fraction of all the people who would like to study there?

nos_hemos_vuelto_locos? on January 10, 2008  · 

Well, Martin
Would Yale University be another subset?
How about Harvard?

Guess who has degrees from there. YES, it’s the Commander in Chief himself!
Would you let George W. Bush be part of your “smart” circle, Martin? Can you imagine him trying to grasp the concept of Fon? 🙂

3.0 rating

Fernando on January 10, 2008  · 

I’m a member of a few open and closed platforms/webs/clubs and I find way more interesting those who allow everybody in.

As the great Groucho Marx said: I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.

3.0 rating

Gilles Amsallem on February 5, 2008  · 

The more worrying for me is what happen already a group of people from business communities and media stars that have audience and image in a very large number of youtubers, myspacers…. that would naturally be considered as member of the” elite”…when shall we start to think and work on the danger of the new hyper democracy on real democracy … the time is over when a scientist, researcher or a professor … in an academic organisation was considered a cultural authority they are closed in their grey ghetto from where they see the world of bloggers talking of politics , economy environement , democracy … at degree ZERO of knowledge and intelligence , but as Ismael said …in today the ” democracy ” everybody have right to be included in elite, including and specially idiots, excluding the “real elite “…

3.0 rating

Stan Stalnaker on February 18, 2008  · 

hey guys – interesting thread – but just to clarify since Martin mentioned Hub Culture, (not culture hub) – hub is geared less around “the smartest” , “elite” etc, and more around global urban influentials who are actioning collective change toward collective consciousness. we work around private networks of people whom we engage with in real life, using the web as a tool. Hub grew out of a book by the same title and has grown very organically to engage with leaders on a very personal basis. Agree TED is great, but we all have a different focus which makes embeds and collaboration probably a smart strategy, as we do with the large networks – within ASW, MySpace, Facebook etc.

3.0 rating

Leave a Comment

Español / English

Subscribe to e-mail bulletin:
Recent Tweets