I have a friend, Frank Gerber, who writes a nice blog called Frankly Green
about environmental issues and things we can all do to improve our
immediate environments. He has me thinking a lot about my daily
routines ranging from driving my car to throwing away trash at our
house. In particular, I have been amazed by the amount of garbage that
we throw out each week…even more so when I think about all of the
houses doing this week after week. I am amazed we can find homes for
all of this. So, enough environmental rambling…
I was also intrigued by the Nike+ program where you drop their sensor
in your shoe and then upload your run data from your iPod to their
community website. You can compete & compare to friends or to
random people around the world. It creates social nets around running.
It got me thinking about this in the environmental sense.
What if you had a similar type of site for different types of
environmental factors. Interested people could, for example, weigh
their garbage weekly and post it to a community site. Being
environmentally friendly is becoming all the rage and people are
competitive by nature while also wanting to be part of community. This
would lever all of the above towards a common good. People could see
how their consumption compares to other families of similar size. They
could have discussion areas where they shared what they were doing to
reduce consumption/waste and best practices. You could embed awards and
such to this. Since it requires weighing your garbage, it is not overly
invasive and people seem to be looking for ways to get green. This is
not an investment idea as I don’t think the purpose should be economic
though you could possible generate some revenue (and donate it).
I believe that it is becoming increasingly difficult to make horizontal
"social net" sites work. The barriers are too low and there is too much
noise. However, using the learned dynamics of community from the first
wave could benefit future efforts that embed social nets into their
solution. I see social nets as a tool or enabler and not necessarily a
stand alone investment concept.
Anyways, this is the random thinking of a VC…