Five years ago we would muse with catalysts at the Omidyar Network about relationship networks, reputation and trust and the essentials of building strong communities of change for both local and global impact. Today some of those ideas have come to fruition with platforms like Change.org, Wiser Earth, Ushahidi, Quora, LinkedIn and Twitter campaigns. As many of us have worked together and cross paths frequently in the ethers there’s been a desire to track those engagements and understand true reputation through our work over time, mapping the most prolific leaders with great questions & endeavors like we do on the TechSoup Forums.
Jumo released to the public in the last 24 hours and has the potential to fill the gap between great people and great endeavors in a different way than Change.org, LinkedIn or Wiser Earth manages to do. Unfortunately it seems Jumo may have more interest in the transactional economy of giving than the relationship economy it has the potential to grow, becoming a philanthropic passthrough that takes a cut higher than most fiscal sponsors, but lower than the United Way. So far it functions very closely to the Causes function on Facebook, more like Razoo. It’s a start, but personally I want a real economy of contribution that goes deeper than dollars.
Tracking followers simply in the Quora fashion is a nice and elegant way to see who influences who but it lacks any sort of qualification or indication of endorsement. Recommendations in LinkedIn are more helpful but a star/point system would allow for users to vote up their favorite leaders and catalysts in various fields.
I think the creators of Path are on to something by creating limited networks and I’d like to refine it more deeply in the #TrustTable project – creating true indicators of trust and reputation by demonstrating who are the most reliable people indicated on a short list of must-contacts in case of emergency. #TrustTable is an ad hoc project designed to solve at least two problems: the need for quick emergency contact data in a semi-public online space and mapping reputation & relationship trends to show who are the most trusted people in our communities.
The concept for TrustTable is simple:
You have a round dining table with only 10 seats for guests. Choose the people you would want at your last meal on earth, the person who should be first to pick up your kids if something happens to you. Ten seats only: make sure you include the people who should be contacted if something happens to you – this is your command center and this is your league of personal superheroes. Colorcode their chairs with contact protocols and link it to their FB or Twitter page so someone can push your big red emergency button if they need to – you choose who will be contacted for your customized needs. Choose to share your private link with your school, hospital and family or make certain data public and decorate your table for a feast to benefit your favorite cause.
I value social action networks with indicators to vote up submissions to the creative economy. If you imagine each post, video or photo as an asset in the marketplace of Facebook or Twitter I want the ability to be able to give extra stars, points or fiery dragons to the people who are submitting the best possible solutions. The LIKE button is ok but I’d rather have 30 stars a day and have the ability to blow 5 stars on the best link or photo. I believe that this mix of a creative economy and reputation-associated relationship building will allow us to find collaborators and get things done more effectively in less time.
So far the social action networks that have sprung up to get things done quickly include Ushahidi, the Crisis Camps/Crisis Commons movements and Twitter social campaigns. Most of these have required the frequent use of googledocs and wikis to manage collaborative information across wide virtual teams and lack the ability to track the backend of engagement well as we look to reward those who are getting the most done.
Credit and attribution is tricky in the nonprofit creative commons world of open sharing; we walk a dicey line between collaboration and needing to toot our own horns enough to win grants. We want to empower great ideas and resources always seem scarce compared to the giant needs we’re facing. Any tool that helps us leverage more for less is helpful….for now the tools that are helping me the most to create social change ripples include Twitter, Quora, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook. For now the social action networks like Change.org and Jumo offer enough for me to chime in once or twice, but I’m not seeing enough sticky reasons to keep coming back to share new endeavors. Some networks like #TrustTable would only be updated twice a year….but is there a future for a philanthropic discovery site like Jumo that does not push regular emails or curated updates? Would you keep going back, or are you having better experiences with other social action networks?