We call Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and the like “online communities,” but many people find that label hard to swallow. After all, communities care for one another, support each other and are brought together by something deeper than shared interests or geography.
If nothing else was going to convince you that these services are more than just tools, and that your “friends” are more than just connections in a network, The success of Twestival would have to do it. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Twestival is a world-wide charitable collaboration for charity:water, a charity that is dedicated to digging wells in developing parts of the world with no access to clean water. There’s one in your city. Seriously – go look.
Building one well can cost between $4,000 and $12,000, so it’s not an inexpensive endeavour. So, rather than paying for expensive television ads, or paying people to stand on the street with binders, charity:water took to the web, and organized a global, one-day event in support of their cause that brought over 185 organizers together from every continent around the world to donate their time and money to raise funds for a single charity.
So far, they’ve raised $1,000,000, and the event isn’t until Thursday.
I’m involved with the Ottawa event, as is @bitpakkit and @sassymonkey from Overlay.TV (the event’s sponsor), and @kevinwaghorn – the producer of the Ottawa Fringe Festival, and a wicked event manager locally. What I’ve seen in the few short weeks we’ve been working on this is the dedication of both the local and global Twitter community to give of their time, their money and their influence, simply because it was a cause they could believe in.
Multiply that by 185 cities around the world, and you see the real power of social networking. The building of connections that would be impossible through any medium we’ve ever seen – television, advertising, telephone – not even the internet in and of itself. What it took to connect the world was 140 characters and a cause. Next time someone asks you what the point of Twitter is, you’ve got an answer for them.
If you’re in Ottawa, the event is February 12 at Suite 34 in the Market. Details are at http://ottawa.twestival.com, and you can buy tickets at http://www.amiando.com/twestivalottawa.html. If you can’t come, please spread the word, tell some friends, donate something to the silent auction – any little bit helps. I don’t take the word community lightly, but I hope you will join ours in making the world a little better place.