Social Innovation Camp, which convenes in London on April 4th-6th, were announced today. The unconference-style event, which is being sponsored by Yahoo! Developer Network Europe, NESTA, mediaguardian, The Young Foundation, CabinetOffice, and madgex, and includes Bebo-founder Paul Birch and Yahoo! lead developer Chris Heilmann on its advisory board, aims to bring developers together for 48 hours to solve a set of social problems.The six ideas that will be developed into web products at
"Not only does the social web enable individuals to create things for themselves, but as increasing numbers of people use the web in this way, the network that they are building becomes more than the sum of its individual parts," according to the project's about page. "The Social Innovation Camp is interested in how this phenomenon in the online world can be used to create better solutions to social problems in the real world."
The camp's organizers aren't aiming to take a role in starting these new companies, but rather to create an environment that brings together people to collaborate on making them a reality. What's in it for the advisory board? As far as I can tell, not a whole lot. The whole thing seems rather altruistic, though I suppose the event organizers would have first crack at investing in anything that came out of the camp.
The group fielded 70 proposals for applications and chose 6 for development at the 2-day hackathon. Those are:
A portal and web shop for products designed to help people overcome "disability, injury or impairment." In addition to a shopping section and showcase of products, users would be able to write reviews, sell second hand goods, and receive advice from experts. A noble idea, if not all that innovative.
This is perhaps the neatest idea of the bunch. A barcode driven, user created database of information about products such as health benefits, consumer risks, manufacturing information, carbon footprint, news stories, government subsidies to the manufacturer, and user reviews. Users would access the information by scanning or entering the barcode information from the product itself.
A resource for families who have a loved one in prison. The tool would include information about getting to and from prisons for visits, information about arranging child care, coping with having a friend or relative in prison, etc.
Using online activities (games?) and surveys the system determines a user's personal skills and qualities. By periodically retaking the online tests, users can track how their social and interpersonal skills are developing. The proposal includes a function to allow people to print off results for inclusion in a resume/CV or portfolio, but given the biases and unreliability of most personality tests (i.e., always take them with a healthy dose of salt), we're not so sure that's a great idea.
Stuffshare is a classifieds-style stuff centered around lending and borrowing. This sort of thing actually already exists. For example, Traxstuff, Loanables, and Billmonk (sort of). There are also trade-based marketplaces like Zunafish and Swaptree which compete in this area.
A user-driven resume review service. Upload your resume and get feedback from other users. You can specify who you want to give you feedback -- i.e., only people in your industry, or only people with a management experience, etc.
Are any of these projects truly innovative? Do they really address social needs that matter to people? Which are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below.