As I remarked the other day, there's a number of new platforms wishing to claim they are the Facebook of the nonprofit sector, or generally suggesting they are the best place to be online. They often go for the old-style model of creating a "walled garden" behind a login, staking out territory in ways that reflect the competitive and territorial style of those anxious about retaining their membership and so their funding.
It was refreshing to meet up last night with the team behind the new UnLtdWorld site, which is taking a different direction. Yes, you do register, login, fill out your profile and start communicating with others within the system. However, as this slide full of logos show, the aim is to create a "collaborative ecosystem" whereby it is possible to join up with other systems in order to get content in and out.
I was at the launch event for the site, and sound levels didn't really allow for detailed technical explanations, though you can find some here. I was able to talk to both Alberto Nardelli, the Social Network Manager who directed development with the team from Curverider, and with the Chief Executive of Unltd, Cliff Prior. As Cliff says in his profile:
UnLtd is a charity which supports social entrepreneurs who live in the UK - people with vision, drive, commitment and passion who want to change the world for the better. We do this by providing a complete package of funding and support, to help these individuals make their ideas a reality.
I first invited Alberto out into Weston Street, underneath London Bridge Station, hoping for some quiet ... but found we were on a bus route. The lighting was pretty bad too. However, he and Paul Henderson of Ruralnetonline managed to carry on a conversation started inside The Bridge club.
I later found a quieter spot to talk to Cliff, where he provided a convincing account of how UnltdWorld may - with its open approach - be able to achieve something others could not on their own. One of the great strengths of system is that it is rooted in offline networks of social entrepreneurs developed by Unltd over the past few years.
Click to play
On joining the system, I didn't at first quite understand how best to use it, because I was looking for somewhere to blog or otherwise makes substantial contributions. Cliff explained I really needed to fill out my profile more fully in order to connect with others of similar interests.
Then there's the "shouts" - postings limited to 300 characters. Short for a blog item ... but aha! think of it as a long tweet, the 140 character items you can post to Twitter. Social entreprenuers like to do more than they talk.