Friday, February 17, 2012

Introduction to Ethosphere

There are many places on the Web to socialize, to passively share family photos or connect with your friends. But there are relatively few sites designed to encourage collaboration at scale. Blogs, micro blogs, and social networks are all essentially equivalent to walking into a crowded room and shouting something (this may sound familiar if you've read some of the other posts here), usually something about yourself or your cat. When the room becomes full, the result is unstructured chaos — plenty of conversation but few, if any, conclusions. Facebook has shown us that socializing online is highly amusing, even addictive. But is it the right way to actually accomplish anything?

In his letter accompanying the recent Facebook S-1 filing, Mark Zuckerberg gives us a tantalizing hint of things to come for the social networking giant.

We hope to change how people relate to their governments and social institutions.

We believe building tools to help people share can bring a more honest and transparent dialogue around government that could lead to more direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time.

By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible. These voices will increase in number and volume. They cannot be ignored. Over time, we expect governments will become more responsive to issues and concerns raised directly by all their people rather than through intermediaries controlled by a select few.

Joe Evans over at Techcrunch has more to say about this.

This little tease from FB might turn out to be nothing, but in my opinion, it briefly describes what is missing from social networking, the land of kitty cats and grand-babies. Now that Facebook has redefined not just how we socialize online, but how we socialize period, it is time to take the next step from social to societal, from "me" to "we", from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to something I call Ethosphere.

Ethosphere is a framework for building online places and communities where decisions are made, conclusions are drawn, and progress is achieved. These are places where all sorts of non-physical endeavors can be carried out, and where productivity scales with the number of participants.

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