This is a Guest Post by Rodlie Ortiz.
According to Wikipedia a wiki is a “website that allows the easy creation and editing of a large number interlinked web pages via a web browser…”
So just what Wikipedia is to the encyclopedia world, this wiki is a centralized, user-driven resource for helping to address the issues of homelessness in Tampa Bay.
Through the creation of Wikia, anyone can go and start their own similar wiki for anything.
I believe this is the highest and primary role of any technologist: to make it easy and simple for people to participate and contribute towards a vision.
Read more after the jump…
Jimmy Wales has done this by creating a technology (Wikia) by which people can easily add or edit information on the page. I think that’s why Wikipedia has flourished as it has, because he made it easy for people to add and edit articles. He made it very simple to unleash the knowledge of the world in a centralized place.
Another company that has done this well is Charity Water. Charity Water brings safe drinking water to people in developing nations through various projects. I’ve been impressed with them as well because they make it really easy to contribute through their MyCharity Water section.
I’ve seen guys like our own John Saddington (*Please consider giving! : Editor) or Jack Dorsey (Co-founder of Twitter) challenge people to contribute to helping to build a water well in various countries. What do I have to do if I want to contribute? I just have to click on a link, which they may share through twitter, and it leads me to contribute as little as $1 towards the water project. Because Charity Water has made it so simple, I’ve been able to contribute.
I compare this to organizations like Hope International. If you were at the Catalyst Conference this past October, you noticed that they launched a special project through Never Ending Hope, in which they gave $10 in cash to every single attendee. The goal was that every person would take those $10, reach out to their friends to raise $100, and then help to give a micro-loan to someone in a developing nation.
On paper this is a genius opportunity and plan. In reality, though, there was a big mistake.
They didn’t make it easy for someone to raise those $100. I had to physically go around and collect cash from my friends and then go online and do whatever. But they lost me at the first step. I still have that envelope with the $10 in cash.
Instead, what if they would have made it possible for me to create an account on the site, and then give me the opportunity to send a special link through Twitter or Facebook in which people can click and easily contribute? If they would have made this easier, someone burgeoning entrepreneur would have their $100 micro loan right now.
This same principle applies to every organization or system that is seeking funds, volunteers, etc. It’s not that people don’t want to help and contribute. It’s that we don’t often make it simple and easy for them to do so.
So here’s my challenge to all the leaders and technologists out there. Go through all the systems you have in place and ask yourself this one question: How much distance is there between my vision and the ability of others to contribute to it? Because if it’s more than one or two clicks or steps, you’re seriously limiting the ability of people to contribute.
And that’s where technology steps in (and us, the technologists, that help make it happen).
[Image from Charity: Water]