The idea for Bloggers for a Better World partially came to light as a result of Shimon Peres mentioning in his LeWeb3 speech that we should all accept responsibility for our planet. One step further and we arrive at the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, literally ‘repairing the world'. However, to repair something, you need to know what's broken and that is one of the reasons why so many LeWeb3 attendees enjoyed Professor Hans Rosling's myth-busting presentation on the health of the world. I highly recommend that you watch it.
Professor Rosling helped found the Gapminder Foundation, a non-profit organization with the goal of developing software ‘that visualise human development'. As he explained onstage in Paris, the United Nations publishes a plethora of data regularly on the state of its member countries, and since these studies are paid for by our taxes, every effort should be made to have the public aware of the findings. People don't really enjoy sifting through tables of data (do you?), so Gapminder's tools mine that information and present it in a visually-pleasing manner that's powerful yet easy to understand. I agree with Tom Raftery when he says that the site ‘is incredible'. They liked it so much that Google is hosting the Gapminder World demo, and has been since Spring 2006.
One of the great things about these tools is their simplicity. They're almost fun to use and it's easy to imagine someone playing with them for 10 minutes instead of wondering where to put another king in Solitaire. In that timeframe, a user is guaranteed to come across some shocking statistic by chance or design, almost presented like a StatAttak T-shirt. The emotion is memorable, and the results can be quite viral. Which is what we want, right?
Bloggers for a Better World is a nice idea and I don't think we'll be hearing many people, if anyone, standing up against it. After all, who would want to discourage efforts to make the world a better place? With terrific sites like Gapminder, it's so easy to discover a worthy cause, grab a nice graphic and then dash off a quick blog post with the right tags. If that's the case, why have so few people done that? It's not like people aren't already blogging about social causes.
During the post-LeWeb3 blogstorm, it seemed as if this noble initiative would be lost in the hubbub, and there wasn't much talk until LoÃ¯c LeMeur reminded us about the proposal. The fact that we needed reminding wasn't a good sign. The fact that http://bloggersforbetterworld.com still points to a parked domain more than 2 weeks after the conference has ended is also not a good sign. Finally, the fact that basically no one outside the LeWeb3 attendees is aware of it is the worst sign of all. As some may point out, only a few weeks have gone by since the announcement at the conference, but that's unimportant in this context. Bloggers are very reactive; during the 2-day conference itself, almost 500 articles were posted about it, as Technorati shows here.
The attempt to make Bloggers for a Better World a grassroots movement has clearly failed so far. If the idea is to be rescued, it will require a much more persistent and visible effort by its proponents such as LoÃ¯c and Yossi Vardi, perhaps in collaboration with organizations like Gapminder. Hopefully Arnon Katz's US$100,000 pledge can be put to good use.
@edit: Netanel Jacobsson just posted an interesting take on all this.
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