Friday, May 20, 2011

Introducing iCAREweCARE

Today marks the global launch of an innovative new social networking site: iCAREweCARE.
icwcpre-launchiCAREweCARE is a new student-run nonprofit organization  dedicated to making social change a social phenomenon using the power of online connections. iCAREweCARE seeks to empower teenagers to take leadership positions within volunteering organizations, provide comprehensive listings of non-profit organizations within local communities, connect with peers on basis of causes, collaborate with certain organizations and rate and review volunteer opportunities on basis of how meaningful work is.

Having access to the private beta of the site for the past week, I can attest that the site offers incredible potential if a vast number of participants sign up for the service. Capture
  • The “My Organizations” feature (pictured) allows users to connect and discover thousands of organizations across the globe and publicly declare their support for them. Furthermore, to recognize the quality of volunteer work at the organizations, users can rate and review any listed organization so that others can approach work informed (no more pushing papers for hours!). Cataloging a new non-profit is preformed by users and anyone can add new organizations to the list.
  • The “My Causes” feature allows users to connect with causes that hold personal importance to them. iCAREweCARE will then use its algorithms to hook users up with highly-rated organizations in one’s local area and recommend volunteer work.
    • The causes include Children’s Rights, Education, Environment, Global Disease, Poverty, Violence, World Peace, Women’s Rights, and Youth Rights.
  • The “My Friends” feature connects directly with one’s Facebook account and imports one’s friends list. It then utilizes algorithms to connect you to friends with common causes and organizations so that fun and collaborative volunteer opportunities can be undertaken with friends.
  • If modeled after traditional profile formats, iCAREweCARE’s “My Profile” feature would be redundant. That said, iCAREweCARE condenses its profiles and integrates them into Facebook to allow users to log volunteer work and invite friends to join. A full-blown news feed allows one to see the full extent of service in one’s social network. Seriously awesome stuff.
Philosophy and Impact
The Internet – specifically social media – has been the best thing for teenage expression since rock ‘n roll, or perhaps even the printing press. The social web allows teenagers to communicate, nearly undetected by parents, with massive audiences around the globe. Any given person can develop an impressive sphere of influence using a simple blog (i.e. yours truly).This removes the stratified power-dynamic of the traditional, adult-controlled world and allows for total freedom for teens communicate, collaborate and share. Ultimately, this empowers teenagers to emerge from a marginalized position to maturely make an impact on the world around them. iCAREweCARE seeks to utilize the incredible, decentralized power of the internet as a vehicle for justice.

There’s no denying that the Internet has changed society. The Egyptian Revolution and the Libyan struggle, both of which occurred just this year, are instances where social media served as the vehicle through which unjust governments were toppled and justice was served. The 2004 presidential election signified a major shift towards a new decentralized form of mass-communication. Major news corporations held less power than the common blogger, and anyone could argue for their candidate. This is the power of the internet, because, only through anonymity and unrestricted communication, all are equal.

Finally, iCAREweCARE allows volunteers to connect with the recipients of their services in a unprecedented manner. By communicating directly with those affected by social injustices, one can truly understand what is needed and necessary for those people. Furthermore, one can witness firsthand the effects of service on communities, thereby making service far more rewarding and satisfying. This can have incredible ramifications on a worldwide scale and allows for intimate and open connections to be forged between people from all sorts of social classes and region of the world.

Ultimately, since social media is perceived by teens as a “cool” thing to do, implementing volunteerism into the formula will change the face of public service and, essentially, make it “sexy”. Making volunteerism a teenage phenomenon, say, on the scale of Call of Duty and Lady Gaga, can initiate a global youth-service-movement that can extend for generations upon generations. This is not the “slacktivism” that has characterized Facebook since its inception, this can be a true force of nature.

iCAREweCARE is a truly incredible project. It went live and public just a few hours ago. So sign up now and partake in this revolutionary experiment!

Come back tomorrow for pictures from iCAREweCARE’s launch party and next week for videos!

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