New ideas abound on the Internet through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and through personal and corporate blogs. Whether it's simply improving productivity or a massive plan to end homelessness, people seem eager both to share their ideas and seek out other opinions.
The creators of a new Web site, Whatidchange.com, hope to take advantage of this influx of ideas and help transform them into change.
"You can focus your energy, and I guess the collective consciousness, and try to use the content creation that happens on the Web and use it in a positive way," said Justin Briggs, site co-founder and an MBA student at Oklahoma City University. "It popped into my head one day of crowdsourcing good ideas and finding the best way " and a unique and catchy way " to do that."
Briggs said he got the idea around Halloween and shared it with friend and business partner Ryan Benn. The pair had already collaborated on several projects and were looking for an "aha moment," Benn said.
They found that moment in Whatidchange.com.
"We felt like there was a large potential for it, kind of an unlimited potential," Benn said.
Briggs and Benn worked with Traction Marketing Group in Oklahoma City to create the site. Briggs had met Tyler Smith, president of Traction, through a planning committee for Ignite OKC. The Web site launched a little more than two months later, and Traction's assistance was key, Briggs said.
"It wouldn't have happened without their help," he said.
Smith thought it was the perfect time for a project like What I'd Change.
"There are heated debates going on, all the government issues, and so many positive social movements happening, whether it be on Facebook or Twitter," he said. "The first thing to hit me was that, if we're going to do it, we definitely have to do it now, especially with the word 'change' having been a pretty big word with Obama. That's what everybody seems to want."
Smith also was attracted to the project because it was a change from the traditional model of creating a Web site designed to sell a product or service.
"The new model of the Internet is more about sharing and conversation, so it was exciting to get away from the traditional type Web site that's about selling something to a site that is changing something," he said.
Visitors to Whatidchange.com can post ideas on any topic in categories that include everything from politics to technology to religion. Visitors can also comment and vote on other users' posts, and the most popular posts will earn a permanent place in the site's "Hall of Change." Users can share their posts or those they find interesting via social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit and Delicious. They can also post anonymously.
"It's completely open and democratic and egalitarian, and anybody can share their idea about anything, as long as they're respectful," Briggs said. "Whether it's 'what I'd change about Monday' or 'what I'd change about world hunger,' big or small idea, there's no reason not to share."
The aim is to be inspirational, not negative. Rather than just saying what they don't like, users are encouraged to suggest ways to improve.
"We've been a little bit surprised that there have been a few negative things on there, but at the same time, it all kind of goes toward the same idea: Everything, whether positive or negative, is still provoking change, just hopefully positive change," Benn said.
The goal is to not only allow people share their ideas, Smith said, but also to bring people together to turn their ideas into a plan of action.
"The ultimate goal of the site is not just a place to archive ideas and comment and reply on them, but for people to potentially meet and refine the ideas and actually change stuff," he said.
Benn thinks many people are looking for an outlet to express their ideas, and he also hopes some of the ideas will move from discussion to action.
"Hopefully out of that crowdsourcing idea there will be some good that happens, some passion that comes out of it, someone who says, 'This is really true; we've got to do something about this,' and then take it to the next level," he said. "Lea Terry
photo from left, Whatidchange.com co-founder Justin Briggs, developer Bill Cooper, Tyler Smith of Traction and site co-founder Ryan Benn.