Monday, August 27, 2007

How to organize yourselves

This last weekend (August 23rd), I was speaking to Alumni of the McCrae Institute of International Management about the social shifts taking place today as a result of the Internet. "Groups of people can organize quickly and efficiently and make their voices heard," I said. "The locus of control is shifting from corporations to people, with powerful implications for politics, marketing, product development." In response, I got the obvious question: "how?" Recognizing that I took the answer to that question for granted a little, here is a short treatise on the ways groups of people (such as the McCrae Alumni) can make finding each other and getting together a little bit easier. In the end, you'll need to have a motivated, passionate, and involved group of people to get anything done, of course. That problem hasn't been solved with technology, at least not yet ;-).
  • Get involved in the Blogosphere. Create your own blog (typepad is good, so is wordpress. I use blogger). Find others who share your interest who blog, and comment on their blogs. Link to their blogs from your blog. Blog about their blogs. Strike up conversations. Talking, linking, and generally letting people know what you're about and that you want to connect is how it all begins.
  • Get set up on LinkedIn. Make sure you fill out the "additional information" section at the bottom of your profile with relevant details of your interests and affiliations, and make sure your "contact settings" encourage people to contact you. Actively search for contacts, and invite people you know.
  • Find your friends on Facebook. I'm a little more wary of Facebook's privacy policy and terms of service, but if you're careful about not revealing non-essential information you should be fine. When you're filling in your profile information, don't forget to put information in the other tabs (to the right of the "basic" tab) that will make it easier for people to search for you.
  • Create or join a private or public discussion group. You can use Yahoo! Groups, Google groups, or Ning. Try to use them more than point-to-point communications like email and IM. These days, I like Pownce. ...and I hear Jumpnote is going to totally kick butt when it comes out of alpha.
  • Most importantly, follow your passion: find out where people are already gathering and add your voice.
Hey Blogosphere: any other keen suggestions for a motivated and savvy, but loosely knit, group of people who are hoping to get more organized?

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My first online social networking application (1982)

It was 1982, and I was calling into a music video show called "Soundproof" (1979-1983... big love out Buzz E. Miller and Dave Toddington!) on the North Shore Community Cable Channel. Ring. Ring. Ring. I was hoping to request Shrink's "Paranoid" (anybody?), and I was waiting for the phone to pick up. They didn't even have IVR to pick up and put you on hold, so we'd call and let it ring while we watched videos. One day, I was sitting on the couch at 1 AM, with the phone to my ear and I realized I could hear voices in between the rings. "Hello?" I said. To my surprise, somebody responded.
Dozens of us would call the request line and chat in between the rings. Can you imagine? "Oh yeah, I'm (ring) totally into Wall of (ring) Voodoo. 'Callbox' is the (ring) best song ever!"
Check out the article on page 8 of this old UBC student paper.
Warning: Some bad language in this video!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

An equitable arrangement

Home Economics Thanks to Springwise for bringing this to my attention: Home Equity Share. An interesting twist on P2P lending, illustrating yet again how stale the mainstream financial industry has become, and how a little creative thinking can go a long way in that space. Here's how it works: It matches investors, who want to get into the real estate market, but don't want monthly payments or tenants, with buyers who have cash flow to make mortgage payments, but don't have a downpayment. The buyer can acquire the investor's share at a later date, or they can agree to sell the property and share the appreciation. Simple, really. It's a Cozy Home in My NeighborhoodNot that it doesn't have it's challenges (the mid-2007 subprime mortgage meltdown), but it has the advantage that this sort of arrangement is really quite common. Parents helping their kids buy their first house, for example. If you don't have parents who can help you financially in this way, Home Equity Share will find you a "surrogate". So far, the company doesn't seem to be leveraging existing social networking applications to connect people together who are likely to have a higher degree of trust due to smaller "degrees of separation", but that's an obvious extension.

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