Pledgebank, an online cooperation enabler

By Howard Rheingold, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 12 years 18 weeks ago.

Pledgebank is a technology of cooperation that leverages the Internet's capability of connecting like-minded strangers: people can organize any kind of activity by pledging to do something if and only if a specified number of people join them:

We all know what it is like to feel powerless, that our own actions can't really change the things that we want to change. PledgeBank is about beating that feeling by connecting you with other people who also want to make a change, but who don't want the personal risk of being the only person to turn up to a meeting or the only person to donate ten pounds to a cause that actually needed a thousand.

The way it works is simple. You create a pledge which has the basic format 'I'll do something, but only if other people will pledge to do the same thing'. For example, if you'd always want to organise a street party you could organise a pledge which said 'I'll hold a street party, but only if three people who live in my street will help me to run it'

The applications of PledgeBank are limitless. If you are a parent you could say that 'I will help run an after hours sports club but only if 5 other parents will commit one evening a week to doing it '. If you are in a band you could say 'I'll hold a gig but only if 40 people will come along'.

PledgeBank has been undergoing real world testing for a few weeks already, and there are already some successful completed pledges completely outside our original ideas of how people might use the site. One person gathered 20 other fans of a BBC radio series to lobby for its release on CD. Another encouraged 8 people who he'd never met to bury buckets in their own gardens to make homes for endangered stag beetles. And a member of an online community said he'd organise a 5th birthday party and now has 30 members of that community saying they'll come along.