7 Dec 2010, 4:37pm

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What are social networks?

The word ‘social’ has taken a whole new life over the last few years: social media, social networks, the social web. These new terms represent a massive change in the importance of the Internet in our social lives and, in my opinion, an important development in how we go about getting stuff done.

Coming from an eco, ethical and/or green point-of-view, the social web has done some amazing things for various causes. Online petitions, crowd-sourced funding, collaborative opportunities, almost unlimited access to experts and resources… the benefits of these connections are far reaching and often unpredictable.

I work for an online green community called Project Dirt – we’re proud to have over 400 London-based projects, all making real environmental changes in their area. Our role first and foremost is as a melting-pot, providing all those groups and networks a shared space to communicate their expertise and experiences; a place to ‘bump heads’ in the online world. In fact, it’s those virtual ‘chance encounters’ that often lead to the most rewarding outcomes – experience shared, partnerships formed or solutions discovered.

To my mind, the more information, expertise, experience and ideas that are shared in a constructive way online, the more real achievements this social web will be able to boast of. Of course, structuring those shared spaces and creating valuable opportunities for connections to form is a challenge – there’s always a danger of ‘information overload’.

That’s where organisations like Project Dirt and Limina come into play; opening doors, creating opportunities and supporting positive action. Lucy Langdon

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