Creating Technology for Social Change

Civindex: a new concept to measure influence on social networks, based on civic engagement

Earlier this year I came across a news piece on Wired, about Klout, the company that created a score that ranks people on the internet according to their activity in Social Media, mainly Twitter and Facebook. The piece describes how people gain “points” on their Klout score, according to number of twits, products promotion, etc. Basically, Klout is a market oriented tool, that will use and stimulate peoples activity on social media to promote products. A person with a high Klout score will be offered shopping coupons, promotions, access to concerts etc. What intrigued me was that Klout is totally market oriented and doesn’t analyze the quality of the person’s activity on the web.

Then, I started to think about an alternative tool, which could rank the civic quality and the context of a person’s internet activity. Basically, it would be based on an algorithm that would analyze words, expressions, action verbs and connections to people with high social activity in society, to create a social rank. That’s how the idea of Civindex came up.

The idea of this project is to outline the principles for the development of this new tool, trying to avoid mistakes and failures of similar existing tools. These tools, like Klout, Kred or Peerindex, have market objectives and tend to create a game environment where the context and the message are replaced by mesurements of numbers of contacts, likes and shares given to one’s content. They are more related to what has been called by marketing specialists as “gamification”.

The objective of Civindex is not to turn itself into a game, focused in itself, with the objective of selling products and services. The finality of Civindex is to identify and support people who have relevant activity, on the internet and in the real world, in areas as environment protection, fight against poverty, itseurban development, rural communities development, gay rights, women rights and human rights, to mention a few. This people will have high Civindex scores and will be role models for other people, who would like to do more, but don’t know how or few shy about it. The idea is that Civindex website will bring tools to connect these different niches of people, creating an ideal environment for social change.

In this way, Civindex is not a game where people do things to gain a product or to be admitted into private areas of a club. People won’t be able to game it to get higher scores. The only way to achieve higher scores will be to do more for the world and the people around each one. Is to do more for society and engage more in petitions, actions, volunteering, protests and engaging other people.