I hope that you, as a reader of this blog, feel that in your country your rights and those of your fellow citizens are, broadly speaking, respected. I know that for many of us that is not the case.
Thinking about this some time ago, and reflecting on the growing influence of social media in transforming not only opinion but policy, I decided to take a look on Facebook to see what the options are for someone in my own country who would like to campaign for greater democracy and transparency.
My search was far from exhaustive, but it did suggest that the options were somewhat limited. And I had the feeling that Facebook pages dedicated to causes can fall victim to “scattergun” posts, irrelevant material that dilute the intended effect of the initiative. I found it was not easy to identify a forum of like-minded people committed to translating words into action with a palpable effect: making our country a better place to live for everyone.
Perhaps yesterday’s launch of the beta version of Jumo will provide exactly what I was looking for. This project is the new baby of Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and online organisation coordinator for Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign – the first event that showed to a worldwide audience the potential power of social media in public life. Jumo aims to enable people working for causes to find the help they need to increase their impact, and equally, to enable others to find out how they can get involved.
The idea is not entirely new: there are existing websites aiming to use social networking to enable people to gather in support of their favourite causes. But where Jumo may be different is the incredible muscle behind the Facebook brand, which Jumo, given its parentage, should be in a good position to exploit.
In our own campaign to raise awareness for Open Access, perhaps the most crucial issue is enabling access to the knowledge contained in the minds of researchers around the world to create a vast shared resource. The ability to draw on each others’ findings and collaborate more effectively regardless of geographic location, financial resources or other barriers has the potential to exponentially increase the effectiveness of scientists’ work.
In the same way, if Jumo can bring together citizens who wish to contribute their time or money to the causes they care about with the same astonishing speed that Facebook connected people, the future looks promising indeed for charities and activist organisations. According to a report in Information Week today, the response to the Jumo launch yesterday was overwhelming.
By all accounts, we are living in a time when people are ready to exercise their rights and, in return, make their contribution to society. It’s not out of the question that digital philanthropy will spread like wildfire.
Images: Jumo logo obtained from the Jumo website, photo of Kibera orphanage by Chrissy Olson, http://www.flickr.com/photos/islandgyrl/119456122/