Organizing local or global initiatives is no small task. Typical social networks such as Facebook or Twitter aren’t well suited for the amount overhead required to launch successful initiatives. Many people are all too familiar with online conversations derailing into personal attacks instead of constructive discussions. The Humanity Online organization based in the UK is hoping to change that with a new social network called Engage.re, which is aimed at mitigating the many issues when organizing social or political change on traditional online networks.
Engage.re is a social network for citizens, government officials, and NGOs to come together and work on issues on a local, national, or global level. The organization is currently raising £237,350 on Indiegogo ($390,000 USD) to help them develop, test, and eventually pilot the web application.
The social network is composed of several key features – a browser app that takes users from public articles to issues on the site, issue pages where people discuss problems, and an initiative page that addresses specific problems. Other features include general feeds and basic analytics on initiatives a user has created. “The problem with existing social media is that there can be lots of pages or groups all focused on the same issue and no simple mechanism for bringing it all together. On Engage there will be just one page per issue per location, guaranteeing that you’ll be able to find the place where everyone else has gathered on the issue and where you’ll be able to find tens, if not hundreds or thousands of projects that are addressing the issue in specific ways”, said Sholi Loewenthal, one of the co-founders of Humanity Online.
He also said that the Engage platform will encourage people to break into smaller groups that are directly tied to actions within particular initiatives. “We hope that conversation on the web will soon therefore focus more on problem solving rather than divisions.”
The campaign description highlights the company’s overall strategy for the sustainability of the organization moving forward. Relevant advertisements on the service, advanced analytics on usage data, and technical as well as strategic support for companies on the network are some revenue generating opportunities the company is exploring.
The organization is led by Kristina Donauskyte and Sholi Loewenthal, both graduates from the University of Warwick who started the Humanity Online organization half a year ago. The two have prior experience building communities and hope that their platform can help facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships more easily and establish a more participatory approach to social and political change.
When asked about the overall vision of Humanity Online, Kristina said that it’s “to live in a world where people work together on the basis that everybody relevant is involved in addressing issues and that solutions are always mutually beneficial. To live in a better world, where everyone works together more effectively. Our vision is to facilitate meaningful interactions and collaborations amongst people. Engage.re is just a means to achieve that.”