Groundswell Awards for Social Impact
This just in: Groundswell Awards has added a new category for “Social Impact”, where social technologies improve society. Nominations are due by S
eptember 1, so get yours in soon! See this post for guidelines.
From the Groundswell Blog, Charlene Li writes:
First, while social technologies are clearly having an impact on the way people communicate and work with each other, as well as how businesses operate, it’s also having a profound impact on our civic and social involvement — just witness the investment political candidates are making in social technologies.
Second, the press and buzz frequently point out the more nefarious sides of social technologies, such as online stalkers on social networking sites, or potential privacy violations of services like Google Street View. While valid concerns, I’d like attention also to focus on the unsung examples where social technologies can do good.
Winners get a free ticket to Forrester’s Consumer Forum, a fantastic event in Chicago October 11 and 12, where they will be recognized for excellence. This is your chance to strut your stuff!We hope this award category will inspire others to develop technologies that solve pressing societal problems. One of the biggest problems I see happening is technology being developed in a vacuum, rather than developed to solve a specific problem. Nico MacDonald put it well in a recent post about the social impact of the Web:
What we are seeing at present is people with solutions looking for problems: they believe that in some ways computing and the Internet were almost consciously created as appropriate solutions to the lack of democratic and civic engagement. This won’t work, and this instrumentalist approach will tend to undermine the perception of the real value of these tools by ordinary people, as they see these projects (such as e-voting and e-democracy) fail
I don’t know if I really agree with this sentiment, I think finding new ways of doing things can allow you to address intractable problems. Maybe what Nico is saying is cool tools don’t get you all the way. Fair enough, but I think they can actually spark possibilities.