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The Point

I've long thought of American Public Radio's Marketplace as one of the finest business news sources out there, particularly for interesting things being done with technology. And they proved their mettle once again by directing my attention to The Point.

Though Gladwell's book has come under some intense and convincing scrutiny of late, his title does provide a vivid metaphor for the moment when a social movement takes off. The Point operates on the principle that people will only invest themselves in an idea, a product, or a movement if they know they won't be alone, bearing the entire weight of the burden.

They provide a platform for any kind of group action, be it socially or commercially oriented, allowing people to pledge themselves to that action. The catch is that your obligation is triggered only if a predetermined number of people or sum of money is reached. On the social end of the spectrum, you could organize a boycott against a local business or try to raise money for a nonprofit. Once a reasonable minimum of participants or monetary donations is set, you and those who sign on with you will know if the campaign will move forward and have an impact.

They have several cute animated scenarios of how their service might be used—none of which I could embed for you here, unfortunately. But I encourage you to check them out. This is Web-enabled transparency and group action at its best, and I know of a few librarians out there who could make good use of this.

Update: Found this longish, kind of corny, but very thorough introduction of The Point on their blog. Enjoy.

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