Are You Ready to Change the Web?
On Feb. 23, Social Actions, a Web-based nonprofit initiative, will begin accepting submissions for its Change the Web Challenge, a contest to encourage Web developers, bloggers and others to create tools to help people find and share opportunities to take actions on the Web sites, blogs and social networks they already frequent in their day-to-day activities.
Social Actions currently offers an open, searchable database of more than 40,000 actions — such as donating, signing petitions and volunteering — people can take on a variety of issues aggregated from more than 30 online platforms, including Kiva.org, VolunteerMatch, DonorsChoose.org, Idealist and Change.org.
"All of the Web sites that we aggregate from are places of action. They're kind of hubs for taking action online. But their success depends largely on people coming to their site to take that action," says Peter Deitz, Social Actions' founder and executive director. "The Change the Web Challenge is our effort to encourage third-party developers to build those applications that move the opportunities to take action to places where people already are."
The challenge will run on the NetSquared.org platform and represents what Deitz calls a "great full-circle story" for Social Actions, which, a year ago, was still very much just an idea. Last year, Social Actions participated in NetSquared's Mashup Challenge (per Wikipedia, a mashup is "a Web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool") and ended up coming in third place.
"One year later our organization has grown sufficiently … to actually host our own contest on the platform that gave us a kick-start back in May of last year," he says, adding that the challenge was born out of Social Actions' desire not to be a destination site.
"The challenge is us simply moving along with our mission to create and make the Web more philanthropic," Deitz says. "That's the overarching goal of Social Actions; my personal goal and the goal of my team members is to transform the Web so that it's not just a place to consume information and communicate, but really a place to be an active microphilanthropist or changemaker, or whatever you want to call it."
Social Actions is offering $10,000 in prizes to be divided between the three best applications ($5,000 to the winner, $3,000 to the runner-up and $2,000 for third place). The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on the final day of the NTEN conference in San Francisco on April 28.
Deitz encourages developers from the nonprofit and for-profit worlds to enter the contest. He also encourages those who aren't developers but who have an idea for an application to submit their ideas, and Social Actions will work to pair them up with developers who can build the application.
For more information, visit www.socialactions.com/changetheweb.