social network experiment

Social networks are back and they’re increasingly popular (+1 for the internet). It’s not a new phenomena. They’ve been around since people have been socializing. There are good examples of people in the history books who’ve been amazing social networkers. Travellers like Marco Polo were a good example because of the ad-hoc networks of people he created and connected.

What makes it different now is the ability to bridge huge geographic distances using technology. The internet, cell-phones/sms are allowing people to share experiences and create social bonds where it was impossible before.
Places like myspace.com and hi5.com are all well and good, some neat things have happened because of them. What is truly amazing are things that have come out of communities formed from interest pooling. Look at Wikipedia, it now has more entries than the Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Look at the Gutenberg project which has over 18,000 freely downloadable electronic copies of books published. Take a look at flickr or frappr.
I’ve edited some articles in Wikipedia and am a member of some groups on flickr. I have contributed bits of code to some opensource projects. I have come to be a little aware of the power of social networks. I wanted to see if I could actually get the ball rolling on a network of my own creation. I will obviously have to nurture what I create and spend inordinate amounts of time maintaining it and making it useful to a larger group of people. After a while, the hope is that it will take a life of it’s own, sort of evolve with interested community members helping it’s growth and sustenance.

With that in mind, I created Planet Nepal Wiki. It caters to a small subset of humanity. The primary goal is to capture bits and pieces about nepal, cultural nuggets and the like, that is not normally captured in written form. The sort of thing that is passed down orally through generations which have a potential in this increasingly uniform global landscape to completely disappear. The secondary goal is to create a community of users and contributors who have a vested interest in capturing that information, out of interest, a sense of cultural obligation or whatever. It may transform to be something else, I don’t know. I can’t make that call. That is part of the characteristics of social experiments. The crowd makes the decision. I have some awareness of the implications of that. There is less control, there is no heirarchical decision making body, the goals of the project are very prone to change, even the contents. Basically, there is uncertainty.

But that’s the challenge. To experience a different mode of working.

We shall contribute, and wait and see.

viva à l’inconnu (pardon my french).

On to the Planet Nepal Wiki then.

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