The concept of “collaborative platforms” is quickly becoming a buzzword in the area of new media and digital culture.

PICNIC Festival Day 1: The Social Capital of Collaborative Platforms...

Photo credit Maurice Mikkers

At PICNIC Festival on Monday, The Social Capital of Collaborative Platforms introduced us to five successful members of this emerging field. The panel included representatives from the accommodation service Airbnb, community resourcing platform IOBY, crowd funding network The Awesome Foundation, the ABN AMRO Dialogues Incubator, and ChallengePost, the platform for government and software crowd-sourced innovation.

Brandon Kessler presented his company, ChallengePost, as a problem-solving network that poses grassroots challenges in a collaborative format. Essentially, a challenge takes place when someone posts a problem to the site that invites users to find a creative solution. The company has worked on projects, such as NYC BigApps3.0, which challenged software developers to create apps that use city data to make NYC better, and Apps For Healthy Kids.

Bonnie Shaw works in strategy of digital technology and is the Dean of Awesome for the Awesome Foundation in Washington, DC. Shaw’s organization uses innovative measures of philanthropy, namely $100 micro-donations to form $1000 monthly grants that are completely no strings attached. Applications are based in terms of a conceptual criteria, such as scale and direct impact, for instance that projects should not be rooted in permanent rent or staff restraints, and that projects be based on the local community impact they will create. Some great examples are the FabLab and the Ward 8 Farmer’s Market in Washington, DC.

Brandon Whitney, co-founder of the environmental non-profit ioby (in our backyard) connects change with resources by believing that small steps can lead to big change in communities. It is a crowdfunding platform that connects people that want to perform offline civic volunteer activities to form more socially cohesive neighborhoods.

Overall, the recurring theme during the two-hour seminar was the role and definition of the crowds and communities involved with collaborative consumption. The status of participants of crowdsourcing was continually discussed since earlier forms of funding and interaction involved specific individuals or corporations. For example, Kessler emphasized the nature of collaborative platforms as being experiential rather than transactional, or in one example as relying on crowdsourcing rather than funds from a non-profit or government organization. In this way, the session was a stimulating exploration in new ways to create stronger communities and quickly answer problems that need solving.

Contributed by Joe Mier

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