Friday, April 24, 2009

Online projects

Many of you know that my family just started a video blog we're uber-excited about: The Emphatics!

But ours isn't the only interesting project taking place through the great interweb:

* Postsecret

This weekly blog showcases the anonymous secrets people send in on postcards. The guy who started it just wanted to give his friends a way of anonymously getting something off of there chest... but the idea caught on so quickly that he now receives millions of postcards from around the world, has published several books of the secrets, and tours around the United States giving lectures on his project. Some secrets are sad, some are very profound, some are great just because of the artistic design --- but no matter what their appeal, they are always worth checking out.

* Brotherhood 2.0

Two brothers decide not to communicate except through video blogs for an entire year... and they don't mind if you watch them do it. I absolutely love this site. It began as a small challenge between two brothers and grew into a community of fans (who have their own social networking site). One of the brothers is a favorite author of mine, John Green. Click on the link and see why their project attracted so much interest.

* 1001 Journals

Though the project has changed a bit since it was first made, it's still a fun idea. Originally the person left 1000 journals across the country with a simple message in the front, "Move these books around until they're full, then send back to the included address." Some books came back quickly, others took years and years to be returned, some are still out there (or probably got destroyed). But the success of that initial surge of journals led to a more organized way of keeping community journals. Give it a quick peak if this kind of thing sparks your interest.

* Geocaching

All you need is a handheld GPS unit and you can join in the greatest scavenger hunt ever devised! Within 10 miles of where you're currently sitting are dozens, possibly hundreds of secretly hidden caches to discover.

* Bookmooch

The above link is just one of the many examples of sites popping up where the purpose is to facilitate a free, point-based exchange program. Basically, if you have a bunch of books lying around that you don't mind parting with, you can send them through the bookmooch system, build up points, and ask for books from others. I've seen other sites that use this same concept with video games, movies, etc.

Also, I've seen a similar trend of sites that use a free achievement/point system to motivate their users to contribute. Allpoetry is a good example for casual poets/writers, Sparkpeople is a BRILLIANT site to get people motivated to live healthier lives (it includes the most exhaustive recipe and nutrition tracking database I've ever seen, points awarded for reaching personal goals, a community aspect so you have others to share in the process with, etc).

But anyways, I just thought I'd post some of these links up in today's post because they show that there are a lot of really fascinating social projects taking place online these days. Paper newspapers are disappearing in place of online publications (will news aggregation sites lose out in the new legal battles?), music bands releasing their cds online for "whatever you feel comfortable paying" are proving to the music industry that new mediums can be successful, etc., the list goes on.

Have you guys seen any interesting online trends lately? Leave a comment if you'd like to share with all of us what you've seen :-)

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