The Request For Participation

The latest sustainer missive from the central committee makes a good point. Whenever I’m tempted to post something on Facebook, I look at the ads sandwiched between my friends’ updates, targeted with personal information that I shared to network with other users rather than be advertised to, and I ask myself, are these the hallmarks of an effort worth contributing to and building up? Then I think of Bob MacChesney’s critique of advertising-based media, and I decide that despite the strengths of "web 2.0" sites in terms of user-to-user communication and user-generated content, there’s still a qualitative leap between that and authentic bottom-up media that empowers and is driven by its users rather than merely catering to us only as much as it has to to make money. Also, my mom is on Facebook now.

And then there’s ZNet/ZCom. ZNet’s approach could allow it to go places and do things that a commercial enterprise never would. Since ZNet doesn’t have to justify everything it does in terms of the bottom line, it can potentially be more open with features and functionality rather than hoarding its "intellectual property." The thing that’s clearest after reading this RFP, though, is ZNet’s ambition; they want to be the user-mobilized-and-mobilizing force that they have the potential to be. All that’s required, as the RFP correctly notes, is for users to pick it up and run with it.

So, I will try depositing my random notes and ideas here for a while and poke around to see who else is doing it, and see what turns up. I regret that I will not singlehandedly fulfill Michael Albert’s hopes for "an engaged, growing, creative, activist, visionary, insightful and educative online social networking home for thousands, tens of thousands," but maybe I can be a drop in that bucket.

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