Taking social networking’s power outside the network

If Facebook followed Bernard Lunn’s advice and put its weight behind something like Uncrunch America, I’d be happy. I wouldn’t be happy because of anything about Uncrunch America, in particular, though. Rather, I’d be happy because it would serve as an example of where Facebook was capable of harnessing its users and developers for pressing social needs. Of course, Facebook already offers ways for people to support social causes, so in a sense, the kind of move Lunn advocates wouldn’t be too unorthodox. But it would also suggest Facebook has potential for people to help one another, rather than provide only a platform on which people can share amongst themselves, or organize to them take action outside of Facebook itself.

As Lunn puts it: “Surely the web is more than just a tool to hurl sheep?”

Or am I just not familiar enough with other similar efforts – i.e., is this not unique?

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I finished Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do and I feel like I need to go outside, or take a deep breath, or something.

Jarvis loves Google. Duh. Obviously. That’s the whole point. And that’s cool — I love Google too.

But something bugs me about deifying Google. I want to ask, “Yes Jeff, but what about urban schools?” “Yes Jeff, but what about making sure people have potable drinking water?” What bugs me is that I feel Jarvis might respond, “here’s how Google can solve this problem. Let’s go!”

The plan might be great, but I want to respond, “yes, this would work, but look around. It’s not happening, not yet anyway. People are still without water today.” That perspective is important to me. I worry it gets lost too often when I spend a good chunk of my time on computers with people similarly privileged and, possibly, working within too tight of a bubble.

Let me also be absolutely clear that I don’t mean to suggest Jarvis actually thinks any of this. In fact, considering he spent time in WWGD? on google.org I’m inclined to think he recognizes the immediacy of these problems (even if he praises their response). I’m simply reporting here on the feeling I get as I go through his book — which, thanks to the publishing house structure he used (as he described), may have been more hyperbole than anything.

But apart from that, I’m jotting down some notes, some of the short-form wisdom (“Jarvis laws”?) I’m finding. I have a feeling I’m going to use them often.

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