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  Sunday, November 1 2:46pm PST

Saatchi & Saatchi
Giant Virtual Library Evokes Spirit of Alexandria
The State of the World Forum aims to create a central knowledge base for the world

A giant website library, inspired by the famous lost library of Alexandria, is to be created by the State of the World Forum.

The Forum is holding its fourth annual gathering in San Francisco this week. Over 100 speakers and 1000 delegates from 103 countries are expected to attend, said co-founder and president Jim Garrison.

Dr Garrison said the virtual library was inspired by the former repository of the world's knowledge at Alexandria, which was destroyed almost 2000 years ago. The new website library would benefit the whole world by drawing on the best humankind had to offer.

"If you look around the world today, there is an extraordinary amount of human genius and creativity that's being put into solving problems, and looking at our future, in a constructive way. We want to bring all those studies together into a single website to make them available to people," said Dr Garrison.

"The United States has a Central Intelligence Agency. The State of the World Forum wants to have a Civic Intelligence Agency. Theirs is about secrets, ours is about human creativity. Theirs costs billions to run, we want to make ours free to anyone who wants to think about the future."

Dr Garrison said on Monday, on the eve of the conference's official opening, that the Forum was the only world conference that brought together people who did not usually meet - from human rights activists to the leaders of transnational corporations - to discuss global issues. He expected the discussions on global issues to produce plenty of positive action.

"If you change how somebody thinks, then you can change their behavior. We put people together in unexpected combinations, all with the challenge that out of these conversations comes concrete activity that actually makes the world a better place."

Among the issues to be discussed at this year's forum are global security and the elimination of nuclear weapons, protecting the environment, dealing with global warming and climate control, spirituality, empowering women, and parenting in the 21st century.

"These are issues that aren't normally dealt with within the usual political debate, but which people around the world are deeply and personally concerned with," he said.

A key issue for the Forum would be a new initiative called "Our Common Enterprise". This would be an integrated vision that worked for everyone, regardless of nationality, age, religion or political bent, he said.

Before the next millennium, he wanted a document crafted that would articulate a vision of a world that would work for everyone - not just countries that had nuclear weapons, that were capitalist, or that dominated other nations around them.

"No-one ever talks about a world that would work for everyone. And it is our belief that in the age when globalization is bringing every human being into a single collective history, that we need to begin to imagine a world that works for everyone. It's a big ask but it can be done. We're just not thinking about it."

Vision was vital, he said. Fifty years ago few thought the Soviet Union would get democracy, or that Europe's warring major powers would unite, but both of those events had happened.

Delegates would spend several sessions discussing the common enterprise initiative later this week, he said. The program would be launched at the next State of the World Forum in New York in 2000. It would be timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the United Nations and the next meeting of its General Assembly.


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Notable Quote "However haltingly, we have made some progress."
   --former Commander-in-chief of the U.S. Strategic Air Command, Gen. Lee Butler
Actions which make a difference... NUCLEAR ELIMINATION: The SWF helped facilitate a statement from 117 former world leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev and Jimmy Carter, calling for the Nuclear Weapons States to declare their support for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.
Go to INITIATIVES for details...