What is the Echo Chambers blog?

Microphones are assembled in front of an empty chari.

Now that Echo Chambers has been around for a few weeks, I thought it might be a good time to go over what this blog on opinion and commentary is all about.

Let me start by stating the obvious: there's more to opinion-writing than simply having a thought and saying what you believe. Good opinions pieces require effort, research, planning and a deft touch with language.

The purpose of this blog is to discover and present quality opinion journalism wherever it may be - to find value amid the noise.

Truly gifted writers, ones who are a pleasure to read no matter whether you agree with them or not, whose articles reveal new details or shed new light on a topic, are few and far between - but they're worth finding. And worth reading.

We'll also welcome guest writers, have conversations with the folks analysing the news and lay out the state of play on relevant issues of the day.

Is a debate taking place on issues that are favourable to one side or the other? Just as in warfare, the terrain in which a battle is fought can be determinative of the outcome even before the first shot is fired. When the discussion this September about a military strike on Syria shifted from the need to punish Syria for its actions to the cost and consequences of an attack, the issue was all but decided. And it was commentary in the US, Britain and around the world where this first became readily apparent.

Or is one side making concessions on an issue or changing its position because of shifting public support? Conservative commentators' relative silence following the US Supreme Court's gay marriage decision in 2013 was a very clear indication of how quickly and thoroughly popular opinion had changed toward same-sex rights.

Much of the political discussion in today's world consists of "preaching to the choir." We all too often exist in our own echo chambers, soothed by opinion and analyses that comport with our views, unwilling or unable to be challenged by opinions that differ from our own.

This blog, as its title suggests, acknowledges that these echo chambers exist. Its goal is to step outside them and present rational, intelligent debate and discussion. Not the bland rhetoric of moderation, but vibrant opinions, vigorously defended from a diverse range of viewpoints throughout the world. We'll also poke fun at some of the absurdity that passes for opinion these days, because there's plenty of it.

I want this to be a collaborative process. My goal is to unearth the interesting and highlight overlooked nuggets. To that end, I encourage readers to email me with tips and suggestions at echochambers@bbc.co.uk and connect with me through Twitter, @awzurcher.

A blog about opinion needs your opinions, too.