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Netsquared Conference 2008

Netsquared 2008

Last week there was an event of a different color than green. The 2008 Netsquared Conference at the Cisco campus, brought together social entrepreneurs from all over the United States for a “mashup challenge.” The projects ranged from political, to humanitarian, to environmental, to a combination thereof. The challenge, was a peer voting for the best “mashup” internet project. A mashup is any project which combines, aggregates, or builds upon pre-existing services across the internet. An example, which won 2nd place, was from KnowMore.org. They built an extension into the Firefox internet browser which allows you to see loads of information about the companies you are browsing from search engines to the company’s own website!
When you visit a company’s website, an uninstrusive notification window pops up to let you know their ratings and a link to see more information. Also, when searching on google, little icons will pop up next to the searches, which include color-coded ratings. The ratings are for corporate responsibility, environmental impact, business practices, and much more. This project is a “mashup” because of their integration with search engines and browsers which already exist. They didn’t re-invent the wheel, but instead made it that much better.

There are several other organizations building similar projects, namely another project at Netsquared, Greenerone.com. They provide green ratings for products while you shop. You can compare products and see their energy saving or green specs as you browse. I guarantee you will see a lot more of these rating systems in the very near future. I have seen more than a handful popping up around the internet.

The event itself brought together speakers from organizations like Wikipedia, a live internet feed with Second Life, and a “hack room” for those that need programming help from fellow innovators.

The future of the internet revolves around the concepts brought to Netsquared, as many of you may notice the applications and widgets that are being built into websites and software to make them much more powerful. A great example of this, is a winner from last year’s Netsquared Conference, call Freecycle. If you’re green minded, you’ve defintely heard of them, and Netsquared gave them the funding and publicity needed to make them into the giant they are now.

I can honestly say that this event was the best event I have ever been to. The energy of the event and the people involved, were some of the most passionate, caring, innovative, and collaborative people I have ever met.
Please make sure to stop by the top 21 projects and the other projects listed and support them in any way you can. These projects are running on very small budgets and mostly volunteers. These non-profit organizations survive on donations and grants, so every bit helps.