NetSquared, which is a non-profit organization that aims to "increase nonprofit effectiveness through the use of web-based social tools." NetSquared was created by TechSoup and is a project of CompuMentor - which has been active in the non-profit tech scene since 1987 and has a staff of 110. So there are great credentials behind NetSquared, plus already there is a strong Web 2.0 spirit on the relatively new NetSquared site.Sometimes we all get so wrapped up in the latest Web 2.0 calendar, rss reader or search product, that we forget that some things labeled 'Web 2.0' are actually doing social good in the world. This is the case with
Recently I spoke to Marnie Webb, one of the key people behind the NetSquared initiative. She told me that version 1 of NetSquared went live in October 2005 and has since reached 350 registered users. But around 700 people are actively engaged in the community, thanks to Structured Blogging-like activities. For example people in the NetSquared community are encouraged to tag content on their own blogs, as well as del.icio.us, Flickr, Furl and other apps.
"The focus on this [SEA-EAT] blog has been about how people can contribute. One post entitled Seeking Info? Ask the Bloggers attracted over 200 comments from the date it was published (29 December, 2004) and then steadily throughout 2005. Interestingly, a post entitled Your suggestions and links attracted well over 550 comments from the date it was published (27 December, 2004), which shows the lengths people were willing to go to help. A lot of the comments on the blog were regarding donations and relief work."
And of course similarly inspirational work was done by people when Hurricane Katrina hit. This is the kind of thing that NetSquared aims to help with, utilizing the current generation of 'Web 2.0' tools and services.
Two other examples, as provided to me by Franziska Marks of NetSquared:
- Community Walk This site allows users to map their communities and points of interest, and post comments about these areas. It has a large base of international users. The most interesting example is the mapping of the Pakistani earthquake and helping with relief efforts by publishing maps of helicopter landing pads in the affected areas. http://communitywalk.com/map/590
- NY Coalition against hunger They are a citywide umbrella org for the independent soup kitchens. They also have been using Google Maps to actually map out these facilities in the city. This is a great tool to help volunteers see areas of need, to help soup kitchens collaborate, to map the need and analyze the gaps in the actual services.
The list of sponsors for NetSquared is impressive, so if you work for a big corp then do check it out. For individuals, there is a lot of great content on the NetSquared website to explore - and contributing is as easy as tagging your own blogs. But of course, I'm sure there's more you - we - can do if we put our 2.0 minds to it.
Flickr pic by cambodia4kidsorg (nb: that isn't Marnie in the photo).