turning “friends” into supporters

In our Boston-area social networking project and related work, we hear repeatedly that the challenge is to convert online connections into “real world” action. Young people are heavy users of online tools like MySpace and Facebook, but they are also quick to criticize these tools for being too easy and superficial and not necessarily changing the world. Allison Fine is producing a series of podcast interviews on the topic. Her first guests are Jonathan Colman of the Nature Conservancy and Carie Lewis of the Humane Society of the United States, both of whom are using Facebook’s “Causes” application effectively. Download the MP3 podcast or check out the site for the series.

Our own criteria of success include the number of students who conduct service or activism as a result of using our social-networking tools, the number of organizations they serve, and the demographic diversity of their networks. We won’t succeed unless they go offline.