Today, users can start connecting with all their favorite social causes in one online sphere, as Facebook Co-founder Chris Hughes has launched his much-buzzed-about social network, Jumo.
Hughes, who left Facebook (Facebook) in 2007 to become the Obama campaign's director of online organizing, soft-launched Jumo last March. At that time the site existed merely as a homepage featuring a rather intriguing survey box that asked the site visitor an array of questions from, "If you had a daughter tomorrow, which would you name her?" to "Would you say the world is getting better or worse?" Upon answering these queries, you could also submit your e-mail address to get more information as it came.
Since the site first came on our radar, we here at Mashable (Mashable) have waited with interest to see what Hughes would reveal. Would the site have its desired effect: Bringing together those interested in social change to expedite global do-gooding? And, more simply, what would it look like? Would it be easy to use?
A couple of months ago, we got a little more insight into the project when Hughes spoke at the Mashable & 92Y Social Good Summit in New York City about the inspiration behind Jumo - how, after the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake, he saw people reaching out those in need and the incredible response of the online community.
He also saw that reactions like this are not enough. Instead of having the doing-good-at-Thanksgiving-time mentality (i.e. being galvanized by big events and holidays), people need to be involved with their causes of choice year-round. And that's where Jumo comes in.
Jumo was designed to let users find, follow and support the causes important to them, and with 3,500 organizations on board at launch, would - be philanthropists should be able to find and follow something of interest upon joining. (For comparison's sake - Apple's Ping had 2,000 artists two months out of the gate.)
We have yet to actually get our mitts on the site, but Hughes gave us a walkthrough that revealed how easy-to-use and intuitive the layout is. In fact, it's very similar to Facebook. Upon signing up via Facebook Connect, which lets you easily find friends on the site, you can begin to shape your Jumo experience by figuring out "What You're Interested In" by way of selecting "Issues."
"This is to get a sense of who someone is, what they're passionate about, what's meaningful to them," Hughes says. "It's the first way to figure out what a person might want to see more of."
Every Issue also has a page that you can follow, allowing you to discover more organizations over time.
After choosing your Issues, you can either drill down to find more specific Issues (think education reforms, schools, at-risk youth, etc), or sort through "Projects" affiliated with that space and select which ones you would like to follow. You can also sort through Projects by location, finding those close to you, if you are so inclined.
Once you choose your Projects and click "Done," you're transferred to your homepage, which, again, is very similar to Facebook's. It even has a newsfeed of sorts with updates from all the projects, people and issues you're following. It also has a "Talk" section showing social updates from Projects and people you follow.
"Our real mission is to make it as easy as possible for people to be able to find these organizations and then connect with them in a substantive way," Hughes says.
The site even features its own "Like" buttons, which allow you to "Like" a news story or video posted by a Project you follow and share that story on your own profile page, which is basically a feed of your activity on the site.
That way, you can see what your friends are interested in and check out Issues and Projects they might be involved with. You can also "Like" organization pages via Facebook "Like" buttons, thereby sharing that info with your Facebook friends.
"It's all geared to answer the question: What does [insert name] care about?" Hughes says.
In addition to joining as an individual, you can also add Projects to the site - so long as they pertain to social or environmental issues. "We're an open platform where anyone can create a profile or an organization page. You have to be vetted by the IRS to be able to receive any money from anyone on the Jumo platform [via a donation button], but anyone can create a page," Hughes says.
By joining Jumo, a Project can pull all its social streams into one place - Twitter (Twitter), Facebook, Flickr (Flickr), blogs, etc. That way, followers can check out a wealth of information on a single organization all in one framework.
Again, Project pages are a lot like Fan Pages on Facebook, however the key difference here is that the focus seems to be less on the individual than on the organization. On Facebook, it's more about the connections you make with friends than those you do with brands/bands/etc. Jumo focuses much more on creating a space where you can learn more about organizations, and thereby take action.
At this juncture, you're probably thinking: "So what does this site actually do? Isn't this just another form of the infamous slacktivism?"
"I think that when people click a 'Like' button of follow something on Twitter or sign up for an e-mail list, it's the first statement of support for any interest," Hughes says. "It doesn't mean that they don't then go out and do things like knock on doors and go to protests or go to rallies or go volunteer or donate. They do do these things."
"We can make it easier for people to connect with the professionals working in a lot of fields in order to make change happen. There are a million different groups out there working day in, day out to provide healthcare or education services, or do good government work and I think that our challenge is not to use social media to reinvent the engagement paradigm, but instead to support the work of the people who are out there getting the job done, day in, day out."
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