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In response to the incredible spontaneous occurrence on the rec list today...

I imagine a lot of you have already signed up at Kossacks Networking For Jobs and Community. If you did, you answered two questions. When phrased differently, they take on an entirely different connotation.

Consider-

What services/resources do you have to share, if any?

From each according to his ability...

What services/resources are you looking for, if any?

To each according to his needs.

We’re all familiar with the construct we call "The Web 2.0"-- the notion that the internet is not just a publishing platform, but a utility that enables social interaction. By itself, it certainly isn’t revolutionary.

At its core, the Internet is nothing more than a means for one machine to communicate various kinds of data to another machine.

Considering that every machine also represents the human operating it, and data represents nothing but pieces of knowledge, we’re not doing anything different than we’ve been doing for hundreds of thousands of years.

We've seen Web 2.0 concepts put to various novel uses over the last few years, including the one we're all most familiar with here on Daily Kos- the blogosphere and the netroots. And all of us know that part of the reason this method of organization has been so effective is that it behaves like a family.

By organizing around our shared interests and motives, we're able to presuppose a certain measure of sympathy with, and a baseline of trust in, each individual member of the community.

This collective trust has non-trivial, tangible implications. For instance, how many times did you eat for free as a volunteer during the election season? How many of you stayed with host families out-of-state? How many of you provided these things?

And what could be more important during a potential depression than those basic needs- food and shelter?

::

It's often been said that the core problem Capitalism is addressing is not really scarcity, but distribution. Because we don't possess the means to distribute goods and services evenly, we have a system that is supposed to be a fair means of deciding who gets what based on ability to pay.

As liberals, or even just as Democrats, we recognize that this system doesn't really do what it's supposed to do.

Conservative economists look at rising homelessness and rising foreclosures as a causal relationship. Liberals, on the other hand, see a growing demand for housing and a growing supply of housing and realize that the market is obviously not doing its job.

Similarly, many of us look at the American "Obesity Epidemic" and an extreme degree of hunger elsewhere and realize that there has been a massive, glaring "market failure".

Traditionally, liberals look to the Government as a collective institution where we can all get together and decide to do something about all of this, and Conservatives argue that Government action should be replaced by private charity.

Where both constructs fail is that both of them are ultimately centralized agencies of distribution. There is still one person, or a group of people, at the top, determining how resources will be allocated, and this inevitably creates inefficiencies.

Social networks like this one represent a viable third option for a social safety net. Online communities can do what government programs and charity organizations can't- they are fully scalable, they can be everywhere at once, they can address needs on a personalized, individual basis, and they empower each individual person to be both user and provider of the available goods and services.

The potential created by these tools, while it's really nothing new, is nothing short of revolutionary.

::

If there is a depression, online communities like this one are going to play a big part in getting people the help they need, organizing relief, allocating resources... all those things that the market was supposed to be able to do.

What an incredible time to be alive.

Sign up for Kossacks Networking here, and in this time of need, please follow our President Elect's example and be the change that we all want to see in the world.

Obligatory "first time on the Rec list" update
Thanks, I'm honored! And as long as I have a captive audience, GOTV FOR JIM MARTIN!

Originally posted to beatpanda on Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 02:39 PM PST.

Poll

Social Networking as a Safety Net

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| 569 votes | Vote | Results

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