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Reinventing the wheel is a difficult task. Katie F. recently posted an interesting article on Earth2Tech (subsection of uber venture blog GigaOm) titled “10 Green Social Networks You Should Know”. We were definitely honored to be selected as one of the ten, although a little disappointed when Katie said only ZeroFootPrint had a viable business model. We do have a viable business model, and unlike ZeroFootPrint, it does not revolve around selling much-debated carbon offsets. (See my recent post on Carbon Offsets and their validity).
However, most importantly, we do not see ourselves as a social network. If you have had an opportunity to sign up and test the site, you will see MakeMeSustainable’s primary emphasis is on the carbon management system we’ve developed to help people calculate and track their carbon reductions and financial savings based on daily lifestyle actions. We are a social software with some social networking features, but we have not emphasized our networking capabilities over our footprint reducing tools.
At SXSW Interactive last month I saw Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address. Zukerberg stressed that Facebook wanted to provide a widespread platform for others to use in developing their own applications to access the millions of Facebook users. Later at the Facebook party I had the opportunity to talk with Zuckerberg about Facebook’s environmental standing and whether the site had any plans to develop an environmental plan or strategy. His response was rehearsed and to the point…Facebook wants to give other’s the tools to develop the environmental tools that can change the world. In essence, Facebook is going to socially and ecologically responsible by making it easier for you and I to do so. Of course, Google through OpenSocial (Orkut, LinkedIn, etc), MySpace and others are close on Facebook’s heels in opening their own API’s to achieve global paradigm shifts.
What implications does this little dialog have for MakeMeSustainable, CarbonRally, Care2, Greeniacs, and every other green leaning burgeoning social networks? I think it shows that people will increasingly be loyal to one or two social networks for pure networking and you will have to provide value other then simply being a green network that cares. We will be working within the frameworks of MySpace and Open Social (we’re already on Facebook here) and continuing to increase the carbon and financial specific tools differentiates MakeMeSustainable from other green social networks and carbon calculator websites.
In closing, I support the open API trend. I don’t think there will be another Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, LinkedIn, etc. However, I don’t support Facebook’s hesitancy to scrutinize what types of applications are allowed on the site. Socially conscious applications and those that provide significant value should be highlighted and supported. Otherwise, they can not claim to be changing the world, but rather, they are lubricating the process by which trivial and preying applications can access huge numbers of people. FacebookGreen? MySpustainability? I’m all for it.
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