High-speed organizing on Facebook30 Days of Sustainability's Turn It Off campaign grows participation with Facebook

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Turn It Off! logoThe 30 Days of Sustainability 2007 site has gone live (and if a few of us at Social Signal look a little more relaxed today than we have for the last week, that's a big reason)... and with it, a new initiative from the ever-inventive 30 Days folks.

They're calling it Turn It Off! British Columbia. Taking a cue from similar initiatives in Paris and Sydney, TIOBC asks British Columbians to use as little energy as they can on May 16th. You can use the web site to pledge your participation, and then check back afterward to see how we all did.I’m turning off

While we were building the site, I wondered how TIOBC could dovetail with some of the other web places we were exploring. One of the principles I've tried to apply since we launched Social Signal is to meet people where they already are. (So, for example, rather than ask visitors to upload their pictures to the 30 Days site, we ask them to tag their photos "30days2007" on Flickr, and display a Flickr stream across the bottom of the page.)

And right now, a lot of folks are heading to Facebook. Already the place to be networking for high school, college and university students, Facebook is suddenly hot with parents, professionals and the public at large.

One reason why: the tools are almost supernaturally easy to use. Adding friends, updating your profile, changing your status message – you can do them all in seconds thanks to a clean, simple interface that makes judicious use of now-famous AJAX technology.

And one of the easiest things of all to do is to create and join groups. There are thousands of them on Facebook. And while most are dedicated to things like pop culture and lifestyle, a growing number have a social change focus.

So I created a Facebook group called "Turn It Off! British Columbia". It took me less than a minute to create the group, fill in a profile and upload a logo. Another minute, and I'd sent an invitation to eight friends, asking them to join.

A few days later, there are more than 60 members.

Bear in mind: there was no promotion, no supporting web site (it hadn't launched yet), and not even a request in my invitation that my friends pass the news on.

This is a testament to two things: the compelling nature of the idea, and the phenomenal ease that Facebook lends to collaboration. If you're hoping to bring people together online, you could do far worse than check out Facebook.


Jordan says

April 16, 2007 - 2:11pm
The "news feed" feature in Facebook is its defining characteristic, giving you a run-down on all friend-related activities. Hence when someone joins a group, all of their friends will know about it. Makes it an easy application to love, especially when coupled with usage by almost everyone I know, it seems. (Yourself included of course, Rob) I knew it would only be a matter of time before I kept in touch with my contacts with merely an RSS feed, and that time is already here, it seems.

Rob Cottingham says

April 16, 2007 - 9:30pm

Actually, Jordan, between Twitter, Facebook and blogging, it's getting to the point where it's difficult to distinguish between me and my news feeds... and where there are differences, I compare unfavorably.

Think about it:

  • My feeds: well-formed XML
  • Me: poorly-formed DNA
  • My feeds: easily aggregated
  • Me: easily aggravated
  • My feeds: data separated from presentation
  • Me: barely presentable

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