I have been using an online social networking/research/personal organizing tool called clipmarks. This tool lets you capture part of a web site as a clip that you can name and tag with keywords to help you locate it later or share with others. The vide below describes how the tool works.
But it’s not just the tool that I want to talk about, but the community that grows up around these social networking tools. I recently posted a clip – a photo excerpt of a website – about a problem I was having trying to do register my blog with technorati (a blog search tool). I wanted to be registered because that is one way to drive traffic to your site. Since I could post the clip directly to my clipmarks, other people in the clipmark community could see the error message I was receiving. Within five hours, I had seven strangers chiming in trying to help solve my problem.
It’s fascinating to me how generous people are in this virtual world!
I think it’s important to understand what is happening online and try to harness it in our own physical communities. What is it about this environment that causes people to volunteer hours of their time developing free open source software, providing advice to strangers, watching and commenting (usually positively) on amateur videos?
We can complain that people aren’t volunteering, they don’t come out to deliberate public issues, we are all so overworked, stressed out, stretched thin, overwhelmed and worn out. But there is something interesting going on when despite all of that, people ARE reaching out and making connections and building things collaboratively with strangers and without financial compensation. What’s at work here and what can we learn from it?