Tales from the Net

a work in progress

Saturday, September 11, 2010

If She Ran the World She Would …

If Giovanna Mingarelli Ran The World, they would.

IfWeRanTheWorld CEO Cindy Gallop describes it as “a radically simple web platform designed to turn good intentions into action, one microaction at a time”.  Giovanna’s intention here is straightforward: write a short story. As anybody who’s ever tried to write can tell you, though, that’s easier said than done. Using IWRTW, Giovanna’s defined an ‘action platform’ with the steps to accomplish her goal.

Right now Giovanna’s got 10 microactions ‘in play’ and 36 done. “If We Ran The World allows me to express my intentions in a meaningful and quantifiable way”, Giovanna told me. “I love this platform.”

IWRTW is very social in terms of being designed for people working together (you can target microactions as invitations to act and pick up somebody else’s microactions) so Giovanna’s action platform also invites others to help her if they’re interested. The site’s business model is to work with businesses that want to put together an action platform designed to do good and make money simultaneously, and is still in beta. So far the reviews are positive. Bruce Mau Design’s blog summed it up: “Beautiful design + social engagement + fun to use = awesome!”

Giovanna and I met in a very social network-y way. Tara Hunt (aka @missrogue) tweeted a link to my blog post Guys talking to guys who talk about guys. Cindy saw it, left a comment, and we connected via Twitter and Facebook and Skype. I was immediately struck by IWRTW’s colors and inviting user experience, so different from everything I see out there.

Cindy calls it “emotional software” and the first thing I thought of was work that Karen Fries and Tim Skelly did in the 1990s on Seductive interfaces.  When I asked how people were using the site she knew just who I should talk to.

“Giovanna instinctively got the whole concept of Action Branding that we’ve built into IfWeRanTheWorld — you self-identify and self-express as ‘You are what you do’,” Cindy told me. “She’s brought her entire network and family on board, including her grandmother!” So it’s no surprise Giovanna’s at the top of the list of the site’s ‘superheroes’, a classic example of a power user: somebody who knows how to use the site maybe even better than the people who wrote it.

Her short story about Cygnus X-1 is one example. “My story attempts to fuse philosophy and physics in a fun and accessible way.  The action platform provides a roadmap as to how the story was conceived, including my research and literary inspirations.  IRWTW lets me plan it out and track my progress.”

She uses IWRTW for a lot of other things too. Here’s her activity stream, with purple for microactions in play, yellow for action platforms, and orange for microactions that are all about execution.

action platforms and microactions

“As soon as Cindy described the idea for IWRTW to me, I saw its potential as a political organizing tool – I couldn’t wait to bring it to the Canadian political landscape. Now I use IWRTW for so many other things as well. Some of my actions platforms are just for me, like my New Workout Plan. But most of my projects are meant to be shared with other people. Like ensure 30 per cent of Canada’s Members of Parliament are women, which aims to provide microactions that will support more women to get elected.”

Giovanna works with Equal Voice in Ottawa, a multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women in Canada. It is the only organization of its kind in the country that is supported by all five of Canada’s national parties. [Cool!  Do we have anything like that in the US?] And that was actually the reason why she came to IWRTW.

“It can transform politics,” she says.

Maybe so. In Ottawa, Oni Joseph (aka the Haitian Sensation) is the first to give it a try.

Oni the Haitian Sensation

To be continued …

* Rachel Botsman’s excellent interview in Shareable,  Robert Rosenthal’s Q&A with Cindy on Bookmarks, and Eliot Van Buskiri’s Yes, We Plan in Wired have a lot more about If We Ran the World.

Thanks to Greg, Giovanna, and Cindy for feedback on the earlier draft, and to Oonie for the help with the graphics!

posted by Jon at 9:00 am  


  1. […] activism. Jon mentioned a new platform called if we ran the world, that he wrote about over on Tales from the Net. I brought up Jim Gilliam’s upcoming update to the exceedingly useful act.ly Twitter tool, […]

    Pingback by Key Takeaways from Sept. 15 Organizing Call « Get FISA Right — September 15, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  2. I get chills when I think of the potential of If We Ran the World. It’s a search-engine for actions, as the women who empower say. This thing can provide total transparency, concrete goal-setting, and a forum for the world’s most innovative people to connect and bounce ideas around.

    I am so excited to see where IWRTW goes from here. I hope it continues to grow and will eventually change the way politics, corporations, and individuals operate. Bravo ladies. Keep it up.

    Comment by rianeM — November 14, 2010 @ 10:10 pm

  3. […] […]

    Pingback by Are social networks the new platforms for social activism? - Quora — January 31, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

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