Us Now, a Film and Online Social Networks (May 18, 2009) — Ivo Gormley’s new film, Us Now, released this week, illustrates how online networks are changing the way we live together.

us-nowThe film examined minutely the potential benefits of mass collaboration for governments and political parties seeking to pursue more transparent models of organisation.

The film’s real virtue shows how online collaboration is changing people’s day-to-day lives. It suggests that the web is allowing the small-scale patterns of trust and recommendation that we all rely on, to reproduce themselves on a massive scale.

Us Now film’s most inspirational example of social networks is Ebbsfleet United, a football club which is run by 30,000 members via its website.

There were a group of fans who were looking for a club to invest in came together with Ebbsfleet’s core supporters to finance the club at a cost of £35 each. Five months later, Ebbsfleet won the FA Trophy on their first visit to Wembley, with members travelling from more than 20 countries to watch the final. The excitement of fans who have picked the team, watching their preferred line-up making their way to victory shows how the web can give us a stake in things that matter to us.

Mumsnet, a forum on which mothers exchange tips, advice and support about raising a family, will be familiar as a source of advice to almost anyone who has a small child and an internet connection.

Zopa, an online “bank” of sorts, where ordinary people lend and borrow money to and from each other. This type of banking system seems practical and sustainable and, through its transparency about business practices and the source of its profits, has liked by its customers.

The film could have picked any one of countless examples of online collaboration, from political campaigns launched on Twitter and Facebook to music fans sharing their playlists on Spotify or Last FM, but Gormley thinks that the examples it covers have something for everyone.

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