dropping knowledge

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Moderators Hafsat Abiola and Willem Dafoe, with Bianca Jagger at the Table of Free Voices

Dropping Knowledge (styled "dropping knowledge") is a non-profit organization in the United States and Germany. In the US, Dropping Knowledge International is a project of the Tides Center, a non-profit fiscal sponsor and registered 501(c)3. In Germany, Dropping Knowledge e.V. is an Eingetragener Verein. Both organizations aim to foster discussion of the world's social and environmental problems. Founded in the US in 2003, the organization hosted a large discussion in Berlin on September 9, 2006.[1]

The organization was founded by German filmmaker Ralf Schmerberg, American filmmaker Cindy Gantz, and American activist Jackie Wallace, originally as a response to the Iraq War, but from its inception aimed to be more than a mere "anti-movement":[2] dropping knowledge became an interactive platform for questions, concerns and initiatives from around the world, as well as a meeting place for concerned world citizens striving to turn apathy into action.[3]

The Table of Free Voices, diameter 38m,[4] in front of the Berlin State Opera on the Bebelplatz, Berlin. 9 September 2006.

The nine-hour discussion, named The Table of Free Voices and overseen by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, used a large round table on the Bebelplatz in Berlin. 112 international artists, philosophers, scientists and human rights activists were invited to simultaneously answer 100 selected questions, recorded by 112 cameras and microphones.[3] The questions had been collected on the organization's website beginning in September 2005, the questions were read out loud by moderators Hafsat Abiola and Willem Dafoe.[4] Prominent participants included Cornel West, Bianca Jagger, Hans-Peter Dürr, John Gage, Bill Joy, Harry Wu and Wim Wenders.

Participant at the Table of Free Voices, answering a question into his camera and microphone

Transcripts and videos were later released on the project's website under a copyleft license, organized in a "Living Library" developed by the Deutsche Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz in Saarbrücken (German Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence).[5]

The cost of the event was 5 million Euros; initial funding came from the Wallace Foundation[6] and The Mark and Sharon Bloome Fund, the Allianz insurance company contributed 2.7 million Euro in 2005,[3] and Volkswagen also made a sizable donation.[5]

dropping knowledge has also produced and is distributing several short films, all under the "dropping knowledge Copyleft License" which places some restrictions on commercial use: it forbids to use the content for commercial advertising.[7]


Problema: The Film[edit]

Ralf Schmerberg released a documentary film about the Table of Voices called Problema, which is available to watch or download for free online, the film was directed and edited by Schmerberg and features not only selections from the 112 responses to the 100 questions, but also visual footage from various historical, news, documentary and artistic sources.[8] Some of the visual footage included scenes from the films of Sergei Eisenstein, Godfrey Reggio, Abel Gance, Alain Resnais, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Guy Debord, and Fritz Lang.[9]


  1. ^ Am runden Tisch mit Bianca Jagger; Fragen über Fragen: Die Initiative "Dropping Knowledge" will am Samstag in Berlin die Probleme der großen weiten Welt wälzen. Frankfurter Rundschau, 6 September 2006. (in German)
  2. ^ Answers to the world's biggest problems. UPI, 8 September 2006
  3. ^ a b c "Gandhi? Ich bin doch nicht mal Inder"; Ralf Schmerberg. Welt am Sonntag, 3 September 2006. (in German)
  4. ^ a b Die Murmelrunde[permanent dead link]. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11 September 2006. (in German)
  5. ^ a b Ich frag’ ja nur[permanent dead link], Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 29 August 2006. (in German)
  6. ^ Ein runder Tisch fürs Weltbürgertum taz, 23 August 2006. (in German)
  7. ^ Dropping Knowledge Copyleft License, dropping knowledge e.V. Retrieved 21 August 2008.
  8. ^ www.problema-thefilm.org
  9. ^ Cangialosi, Jason. "Ralf Schmerberg's Film "Problema"". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 

External links[edit]