mySociety, the people who brought you NotApathetic.com and WriteToThem.com are at it again, attempting to use the net for political purposes. We say good on them, because their latest idea is a very interesting one.
PledgeBank.com is a place you can go to make promises about things you want to do to make the world a better place. Nice idea. But the difference is that instead of going it alone, you are encouraging others to join your efforts. If no one does, you do nothing, if enough people sign up, your actions have more weight behind them and will make more of a difference.
Site-founder Tom Steinberg says that the site is "a direct attack on the age-old barrier to action that comes from the feeling that you can't achieve things when you're on our own. It lets users say 'I'll do something, but only if X other people will do the same'."
During the test phase, people have registered pledges such as: "I will write to my MP asking for free Wireless Internet access in the British Library but only if 20 other people will pledge to write to their MP to ask for it too", and "I will bury a bucket to create a home for stag beetles but only if 8 other people will too".
The site is UK based, which will probably affect who will sign up for some of the more specific political pledges. But we see no reason that georgraphy should prevent anyone concerned about the quality of homes available for stag beetles from getting involved. Presumably, nebraskan stag beetles need love too.
"Our goal is to get it used all over the shop - in local communities to form residents associations, within companies to help organise events, and online to help people build open source software etc. Anything which requires people who need reassurance that their involvement in an activity will be both safe and worthwhile," Steinberg explains.
Although the site is politically neutral, that doesn't mean the pledges registered on it have to be. For example, the No2ID team has pledged to refuse to register for ID cards, along with a small donation to a legal defence fund for other refusers. But 10,000 other people need to sign up to make this one happen.
Whether you feel like fighting the power, or just like you can make a comfortable home for stag beetles in your garden, take a look at the actions on offer here. ®