When social networking is the topic, I imagine most people think of Facebook, Myspace or LinkedIn—sites fundamentally derived from self promotion and entertainment. Despite the high language used to discuss social networking and Web 2.0, most of my time spent on them is all about having fun or trying to look better to others (which is what LinkedIn is primarily for). But what about the idea that the world is now connected? Why do I spend most of my time online socialising with people I already know, or participating in interests in which I’m already interested?
After all, the idea of a network (an online community) is to create and maintain connections between people and groups. It is only a matter of time before connections are made which open eyes.
Bloggers in Burma have been using the web to broadcast their message not to let the world close its eyes to the disaster there. YouTube has been mentioned to contain many thousands of clips from soldiers in or from Iraq. This is a serious source of information, a broadcast network between communities. And it seems that this call for help could be so easily ignored if it weren’t for the persistence of the messages: ignorance as a refuge is shrinking daily.
But where’s the 2.0 in this Web? Where is the sharing and the interaction from these blogs and discussions? Have a look at Kiva.org, the most inspiring website I have seen in years. This is a set of actions, and a practical source of actual tools we can use to share.
This is the community beginning.
Spend some time in the About section over at Kiva, and you will see the beginnings of a response to the cries of the poorer bits of our larger community.
I believe the Church’s response to world poverty needs to be a powerful and practical one. I believe that when it says in Acts that there were no orphans and widows among them, it wasn’t just about bragging, but was a description! When the teacher tried to catch Jesus out by asking: “Who is my neighbour?” he was just the first recorded using the excuse that we just don’t know. That isn’t good enough any more, and our Neighbourhood is getting bigger!