Katrin Verclas, MobileActive.org
Social networks are mushrooming and nonprofits are flocking to them. MySpace
is the 3rd most popular website in the United States and Facebook
is the 7th, according to Alexa as 3/19/07
, a social network of activists, boasts six million users. Senator Barack Obama unveiled My.BarackObama.com
, a social network created for his presidential campaign, and there is even a Club Penguin
, a brand-new social network "in braces," catering to the 8 to 12-year-old crowd. Even the CIA has launched a (albeit closed) social network similar to Wikipedia - Intellipedia
- to allow analysts to collaborate across agencies and build a collective body of intelligence information. Social networks are clearly hot.
At first is was old-fashioned blogs that created communities of their own. Lateral connections among blogs via cross-linking and RSS syndication feeds create loose sets of like-minded social communities. And these communities have influence. Blogs are playing a similar role to satellite and cable TV shows in the late 70s and early 80s, when these shows gave the religious right - a then-marginal group - the power to form a public identity, attract others, and later develop its own cultural agenda and political institutions.
Nonprofits naturally go to where people hang out in the hope to recruit supporters, donors, and activists. There are more than 20,000 nonprofit and philanthropic groups on MySpace alone. With more than half of MySpace visitors 35 or older, they are on to something. O’Reilly's architecture of participation
is in full swing with corporations and nonprofit alike using social networking to stay competitive, secure 'mind share', and harness collective intelligence.