We are in the process of building a social networking platform for forward thinking students and active members of civil society. Our venture will be called SquarePeg, and will use the url SquarePegged.org.
Web based social networking is an exploding trend, but many of the social tools driving corporate expansion have yet to be adapted to the goals of inspired change makers. We work under the assumption that, when presented with the right opportunity or information, everyone has the potential to be inspired, and that each inspired individual can and will promote social progress. In this spirit we aim to creatively adapt web based social tools that will connect even passively interested individuals with the work projects, events, organizations, and other individuals that are most likely to inspire them. For those inspired to drive social progress, we will provide tools for streamlined learning and social organizing to help them effect the changes they are passionate about.
Pluralistic ignorance is a well documented psychological phenomenon that occurs when a majority of the members of a group favor an action or ideal, but repress the urge to act because they believe their views are relatively isolated among a sea of support for the status quo. Most people, even nice, passionate people, are less likely to act when they feel like a square peg in a round hole. We believe this hesitation can be overcome through individual inspiration as well as through active participation in communities that embrace the essence of being SquarePeg actors in their society. We believe in the power of social networking and social organizing tools because the seeds of passion for social progress are more complex than a presence or absence of character. It’s a matter of inspiration and connection to communities of support; it’s a matter of learning from civic actors who embrace the fact that their liberty is tied up in the liberty of those around them.
Luckily inspiration happens every day, but it has not previously been promoted by the revolutions and revelations in technology that have recently changed the face of the corporate world. In the era of contextual advertising, hyper-text matching analysis, collaborative filtering, and web 2.0, the time has come for inspiration to be targeted and presented as intentionally and as effectively as consumption.
Social networking with SquarePeg is not just about seeking inspiration, it is about avoiding demoralization. The major existing social networking platforms encourage those who tend to give back most to our society to interact as ordinary individuals, rather than empowering them to identify and interact as social innovators, cultural creatives, and role models. The monopoly of normality in our modes of communication is subtle yet pervasive and powerful. On the bright side there are solutions to all of these problems. Namely, us.