This past week, web 2.0 wunderkind Chris Hughes launched a new social networking site called Jumo with the goal of helping individuals ”find, follow, and support” organizations working to address issues in their own community and abroad. Hughes, perhaps best known for his roles as Facebook co-founder, and director of online organizing for Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign, drew inspiration for Jumo from the tremendous public outpouring following the earthquake in Haiti. Hughes intention, however, was to create a platform that remained engaging year round and encouraged people to continually learn about and interact with causes in a substantive way; this, as opposed to ‘one off’ donations of time or capital usually triggered by a specific event.
The launch of Jumo, which means ‘to come together’ in Yoruba, did not go as smoothly as Hughes would have liked, however, as the unexpectedly high number of people trying to access the site on its first day caused load-related issues resulting in delays for people signing up or trying to log in. Personally, thanks to a head’s up by Mashable, I was one of the early users rushing to the site to check out its features, functionality, and to set up both a personal and organizational (or Project) profile. While the early delays and site errors were a point of frustration, its substantive coverage on Mashable/CNN warranted a surge of debilitating traffic, which of course, were eventually resolved. As a result, Jumo is now fully functional and definitely worth a visit. Here are a few noteworthy aspects:
- Facebook Integration: Jumo is built on top of the Facebook platform making it incredibly easy for Facebook users to sign up and create a profile. This is fantastic because who really wants to deal with another Facebook or Twitter account? Jumo also allows users to input their Facebook and RSS feeds to updating multiple profiles is unnecessary. Finally, the sites heavy integration of the infamous Facebook “Like” button makes it easy to share information with your friends on Facebook.
- Well Thought-out: Unlike previous attempts to create an online community focused on social good and engagement, Jumo seems to have thought critically about how to organize and categorize organizations and articles in a meaningful way. As someone who has spent almost a decade working in the not-for-profit sector, and almost an equally long period of time studying development, finding a network that moves past simply “helping” the “poor” is quite welcomed.
- Due Diligence: The site has integrated a user-friendly donation system for all organizations able to provide a 501(c)(3) number.
While Jumo is still in Beta and the site will likely expand over the next few months, I would suggest that Hughes and his team at Jumo have laid the foundation for a good quality social network. Further, with a few basic additions (like Photos, Videos, as well as perhaps a space for collaborative planning like the new Facebook Groups) I could almost see myself using Jumo as much as Facebook. It will be interesting to see how much Hughes will attempt to reinvent the wheel when Facebook seems to have hit the nail on the head time and time again. If further integration is an option, I would say go for it.
To check out an alternative and, in retrospect, very valid critique of Jumo, check out: Jumo! What is it good for? on the “KM on a Dollar a Day” blog.