How the web is developing good community

I had the good fortune to randomly meetup with the head of MySociety.org, Tom Steinberg. The group is developing web sites and technologies for promoting social interaction and welfare. While people have been aiming towards that lofty goal for a long time, MySociety has been doing great things and has some real results. Besides providing very modern and slick interfaces, their no-nonsense design offers a small barrier to entry for users. This allows more and more people to participate through their online communities.

PledgeBank is a community-based site where anyone can make a pledge to perform some task, given enough support from other people. The basic premise is that more people would do good deeds if they knew they had support and help of other people. PledgeBank allows these 'amateur philanthropists' to congregate, share ideas and make pledges to better the world (or at least all dye their hair - it's freeform). However, to date their successes have been primarily in the UK, due to media coverage and spinoff from their other successful sites like WriteToThem.com and TheyWorkForYou.com: Is your MP working for you in the UK's Parliament?

TEDBlog has come across PledgeBank and is very gung-ho about it's adoption to the US. So much so, that they are offering a $1000 bounty for the most eyepopping pledge. The US could definitely use this type of social support and interaction to promote volunteerism, activism, and general sense of community.

Americans tend to be very self-absorbed, and individualistic. This isn't a bad thing, but sometimes it does our karma's good to bond with other humans. Here is our chance to come together, every once in awhile, as a community.

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Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.