Clay Shirky has pointed out the launch of a new app by IBM. "Socializer" is designed for discovering and connecting to people and services in the same location. I have downloaded and installed it. ( very easy) It looks rat simple (it keeps a running dos window in the background) and could use some UI improvments but the tool could be effective. I have grabbed the login and application share screens here.
Socializer allows users to anonymously see the interests of other people in a location (before personal information is exchanged.) The application enables users that don't "know" each other to connect and allows anyone in the area to contribute to work in progress on the Socializer grid. Once folks have worked together they can download the personal information on fellow collaborators for later use and future connections.
I am interested in playing with socializer in an advocacy context to see if it could create the opportunity to establish live self-organizing and self-syncing activism nodes and networks. This could be a "killer" app at a conference / rally / press event/ or convention. It would be useful in any scenario where lots of folks show up for a common cause and no one cares about getting paid for contributions of talent. The system also seems to work in situations where the participants really don't know each other. As designed the socializer will help a crowd quickly identify common interest and enable them to collaborate on an ad hoc basis.
I can imagine a food court across the street from a state capital being a key "socializer" location. The environmentalists, health care, education, human rights, women rights, labor and consumer advocates and lobbyist might regularly grab lunch between sessions. A new bill could be posted as an "area" of interest. The group could quickly self-synchronize to produce a simple political strategy, key talking points, analysis of the legislation, organize vote counting and produce information needed to rally a constituency to oppose the legislation. The group could grab everyone's contact information for follow up meeting at the front door to a key committee members chamber (drop a bill and a half hour later a huge coalition of groups wants to meet with you to discuss the changes you need to make in the legislation)
A large group in the food court could self-select into fact checking the claims of the bill sponsors. At a press event a similar team could crank out a point by point analysis of the speech before the speech is over. Media hacks could handout a brand neutral (anti-GAHR143) web address to reporters on the way into the event where the results would be published ( reporters could even join into the network). The key would be to frame up a few "rapid build" tools for different types of events so that a huge chunk of work could be very quickly organized into "job packets" that could be efficiently bided on by participants in the Socializer network. The other need would be to identify the standard critical chain of tasks for project to be completed and allow "job swarming" to put lots of horsepower into the tasks that needed critical attention.
This type of collaboration (and the socializer tool) could speed the process of coalition building which is often limited by the false perceptions of interest, branding issues and the single group silo-brand mentality that destroys opportunities for river groups, libertarians and churches from typically building functional coalitions.