Probably the most memorable presentation at the 2007 Community Next conference in Stanford was “The Patent-Pending skinnyCorp Method for Creating Online Awesomeness and Other Cool Stuff” by Jeffrey Kalmikoff and Jake Nickell of skinnyCorp, makers of Threadless and other entertaining projects large and small.
As Kalmikoff pointed out in one of the stories they shared (starts at around 4:50 into the video):
As things happen, the line you’re gonna hear at skinnyCorp a lot if you stop by is: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if…?”
My key take-away back then: watch out for that phrase, it might lead to fun projects! Plus, looking at the world with a wouldn’t-it-be-awesome-if mindset seems like a sure-fire way to delight your community (and your customers).
Well, the phrase has come up a lot over the past twelve months. At the conferences and events that I had a chance to attend (and even at some of the ones I followed remotely), the conversations often seemed to circle back to one recurring theme:
- Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a site that lists all the online tools for public participation and civic engagement that are out there?
- Wouldn’t it be great if we had a comprehensive guide to all the commercial and open source products that support online dialogues and e-consultations?
- Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could keep track of recently launched projects in this area and even compare them side by side?
Yes, yes, and yes.
We’ve been monitoring this space internally for quite some time now, occasionally sharing our findings. Yet while we’ve managed to build a decent list for our own use, it is by no means complete. And with so many new initiatives and interesting projects popping up left and right almost every week, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up.
To solve this problem, and since nobody else appeared to be going for it, we thought it might be a good idea to build a small app that lets anyone collect and share their favorite tools for participation. We call it:
A directory of online tools for participation that anyone can edit.
The site is live but is not fully functional yet. Over the next few weeks, we plan to seed it with some of our own data, add some basic site functionalities and then hope to open up to the public later this Fall.
In the spirit of International Day of Democracy, which is today, we hope ParticipateDB will make the world of online participation a little more awesome.