Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Office 2.0 and activism

One of the purposes of this blog is to explore and develop better technology tools for civic participation (not just activism, not just discourse). Many of the applications I come across written for "the non-profit community" are pretty ugly, and not that nice to use. Barely functional, but without the kind of easy, glossy interfaces that would make the lives of organizers and activists much more pleasant.

However there are gajillions of free web apps out there designed for everybody. Blogger is one, Google has all kinds of apps that can serve organizers, and there are many others that can be adapted for civic projects.

I've come to think that a powerful and highly customized suite of applications can be cobbled together from the pieces of all the free web apps that are available. Why pay for web hosting when, for the time to learn just a little bit of html, you can get other companies to provide you with web hosting and many other services besides?

These online applications for business, individuals, and any other group are collectively called Office 2.0. The Office 2.0 Database has an excellent collection of dozens of products. There are online voice mail services, there are online database services, there are word processors and web conferencing apps. With a little creativity these applications can make a powerful platform of tools.

The future for activism and the internet lies not in building cathedrals - single websites that provide the user everything they need on a single page on a single server, but in bazaars, where sites mash together services from all over the web and trade ideas and techniques for new combinations of applications.

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