Home NetSquared – remixing the Web for social change

NetSquared – remixing the Web for social change

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 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.

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.

Marnie told me that
infrastructure is still the biggest issue for non-profit organizations, but that there
are other ways to solve problems using the Web 2.0 platform. That’s where NetSquared
comes into play. Currently NetSquared has a US focus, but Marnie said they hope to reach
out to non-profits internationally in the near future. One of the keys to that is to
gather local stories of non-profits using Web 2.0 tools. One great example IMHO is the
sterling work done by the The South-East Asia
Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
, aka the SEA-EAT blog. I wrote about this last year:

“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
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

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
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).

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.