How Altruism and Advertising Could Change the World

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by: Scott Goodson

Cindy Gallop is a good friend. She left the ad agency BBH to start a new life and business. She has been busy developing her new company the past year. Wired’s Blog outed Cindy’s new venture today. (Below)

I think it is a wonderful idea. I feel empowered by the idea. We live in an idealistic world. It removes obstacle to idealism. What a brilliant service.

The fact that it was created by an ex-advertising pro together with a software developer makes it even more interesting. The financial people said they were going to save the world and they haven’t. The technology people said they were going to save the world. Here’s a very smart ideas person working with a very smart software developer in a partnership to do just that. Very interesting. I for one will be watching this space.

Rather than raising awareness, the site is set up to convert intent into action, to get things done. As a side effect, it could reinvent advertising as a transparent interaction between corporations and individuals.

"The single largest pool of untapped resource in this world is human good intentions that never translate into action," said Gallop, who founded the company with Davis two years ago after digital guru Esther Dyson introduced them. Gallop says current do-gooder networks make it too hard to find achievable, concrete tasks that fit one’s skill set, time and budget — and that offer instant gratification.

"For a large amount of the world, doing good is fundamentally very, very boring," explained Gallop. "If you go to the homepage of something like, or any one of the many [like it], there is an instant yawn factor -– ‘I know this is really good stuff, I should be doing it, but I’m half asleep already."

"There is no Google of action," she added. breaks even the largest goodwill projects ("feed Darfur") down into discrete tasks, which it distributes to members through a commercially supported, socially networked environment. When people have the urge to act on something that irritates them about the world, they can actually do something. Their plan (more below) not only impressed us, but also Dyson, who said it will create "a liquidity of goodness." Former Google executive Katie Jacobs Stanton, who joined the Obama administration as "director of citizen participation," heard about the plan from Gallop at the TED conference last month.

Here’s how it works. A simple, Google-like search box on the site will greet first-time visitors with the partially-completed sentence, "If I ran the world I would…." Their entries join a database of action platforms, which platform originators and community members break down into discrete tasks — irreducible atoms of action. Members complete these tasks, assign them to friends, offer kudos for jobs well done and offer advice to various action platforms. Completed tasks and kudos appear on your profile page, which lists everything you’ve done — a little different for most people than everything you say you support.

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