The Human Web 1: Self-Organising on the Web

Self-Organising on the Web

Tim O’reilly’s keynote at Web 2 SF got me thinking about something that I have been noticing happening online for some time now. In fact for the past 6 months I have been collecting links for a series of posts on internet acvtivism and examples of how humans are doing good, and creating value for themselves, their communities and each other off-line, utilising online services and technology. (These posts will be part of a series : The Human Web)

I have been noticing how the internet is empowering people to connect to each other to cause real world change.

We are self-organising online and using technology to collaborate, communicate, share information and manifest change within our communities.

Wikipedia defines Self-Organisation as:

“Self-organization is a process of attraction and repulsion in which the internal organization of a system, normally an open system, increases in complexity without being guided or managed by an outside source.”

The evolution of the internet has allowed the communication of many to many, resulting in the democratisation of information.

At Web Directions South last year, Mark Pesce gave an inspiring speech about hyperconnectivity, and the current need for self-organisation on the internet in order to create a community and not a mob. (You can listen to this presentation). Mark explains that we have mastered hyperconnectivity online but now we need to self-organise to create “community” and change.

Seth Godin last year wrote  a book called Tribes where he urges people to become leaders and join or create a tribe, creating movements to cause change in our real world lives. You can watch a video from Seth explaining Why You Need a Tribe.

Technology (& the internet) today enables people to connect, form tribes, and create change.

Lately there have been many sites and initiatives that have come to my attention that demonstrate groups of people who are self-organising online to manifest real world change.

Stay tuned for more posts on this topic, but today I am going to take a look at some examples of people using the web to self-organise and create change in their local communities.

1. has recently been launched from the crew at Digital Eskimo. Using this service people can celebrate and suggest ways that they can lead more sustainable lives and do valuable things within their local communities.

Live Local is a place to share stories about improving our communities.

Use the website to document your experiences and adventures meeting neighbours, discovering neighbourhoods, improving your local economy, saving energy and making our air and water cleaner.”

2. is a similar site but perhaps a bit broader in scope and larger in audience.

This is a site run by a Canadian group aimed at challenging themselves and each other to do acts of kindness to help change the world.

“Daily Challenge is a tool for social change. Our goal is, “to build the largest network of `Do Gooders’ in the World” and challenge them to do one good, daily. Through uniting individuals, organizations and companies interested in taking social responsibility, we believe we have the power to create immediate, massive and sustainable global transformation. Together we can be the change we seek.”

A challenge that was submitted on the site, to buy the person behind you a coffee was turned into a large off-line event. You can watch the founder Darius Bashar discuss Daily Challenge and this initiative/event here.


I learnt about the Banditos Misteriosis when someone tweeted  (on twitter) about an event they were holding in Boston for World Pillow Fight Day 2009.

Their site states:

“Banditos Misteriosos is an organization composed of numerous Bostonians who walk around Boston and ask two simple questions:

Who are these people we pass in the street?

How could we use those big open public spaces?

To answer these questions, we refer to our belief that we all have the capacity for “selective immaturity”, that we are all willing to step out of our shells for a brief moment and act like fools with our fellow Bostonians.

All we need is a time and a place. Banditos Misteriosos aims to answer that call to arms.

Our events have the goal of getting Bostonians participating in ways just a little out of the ordinary, while all the meanwhile utilizing the cities great public spaces.  Every event is open to all ages, safe and most importantly, free.”

4. is a similar movement based in NYC.

“Improv Everywhere causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere has executed over 80 missions involving thousands of undercover agents. The group is based in New York City.”

In January this year, this group mobilised 1,200 people to ride the NY subway with no pants on!

Love it!! Does a similar group exist in Sydney?

5. Wake Up Sydney! – Speaking of Sydney, I went to the first event from a group called Wake Up Sydney! recently.

This group are using Twitter, online video and a site to promote their events and their message.

“Wake Up Sydney! is a platform for creative, conscious and caring Sydney-siders. A regular place for the diverse tribes to Sydney to connect, collaborate, share inspiration, support one another and accelerate a revolution toward a more kind, conscious and sustainable world.

You can also register to be sent their Kindness Cards, encouraging people to do random acts of kindness for strangers. I recently met with the founder of this group Jonathon Fisher who said that it’s his aim to have 500,000 of these cards on the streets of Sydney.

Small acts of kindness when done by many people can have a massive impact.

6.  Meet Up – I am sure you are familiar with Meet Up, it has been bridging the online and offline worlds for many people with niche interests all over the world since 2001. Meet Up helps groups of people with shared interests plan meetings and form offline clubs in local communities around the world.

MeetUp = “Do something • Learn something • Share something • Change something”

Wikipedia has a great account of it’s history.

I think that’s enough for one post but stay tuned for more banter about internet activism,  examples of people self-organising online to create change, and using the web to be more human!

Please tweet, comment, and link to these posts if you find them interesting.

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1 Comment »

  1. great stuff here Jax – and now you are doing your bit by finding all this information and collating it for all of us. internet activism – and the beat goes on…

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