Why NetSquared is Already a Success

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The goal of NetSquared in my mind is not to demonstrate a Web 2.0 process, rather the goal is to:

Accelerating 20 great projects that utilize the technologies, tools and communities of the social web to create societal impact in a sustainable fashion. We will accelerate these projects by providing cash awards from the newly created Technology Innovation Fund and by connecting them with funders, developers, ntaps, and other people and organizations that can help the projects attain the next level.

I don't believe in The Wisdom of Crowds as an absolute. There is an equal compelling book called The Madness of Crowds. But either way, NetSquared should not be judged solely on the process that was chosen to select the 20 projects that will qualify for the conference.

I've talked to a lot of people about NetSquared. Smart venture capitalists, big foundations, and social innovators and they have been resoundingly excited. What they see is not some sort of new selection process, but a community of driven social entrepreneurs that is managing to leverage their user base and their networks to bring social, intellectual and financial capital to the table.

Will the process bring the 20 "best" projects to the conference? We don't know. In the book, The Wisdom of Crowds, Surowiecki tells a story of a search for a lost submarine. The searchers use a process of aggregating the location guesses of people who should be able to make a good estimate and find the submarine at that exact place. But not one of the experts picked the location on their own. So the 20 projects that are picked today might NOT be the ones that even the smartest people on this site would have picked. But regardless, I do believe they will be 20 great projects and the goal of NetSquared will be one step closer.

Life's not perfect. Next year, the voting process can incorporate some of the ideas that user have been submitting. Many of them are great ideas. But I believe strongly that NetSquared is already a success, already a Watershed Event. I look forward to seeing which projects will be at the conference and even more, I look forward to seeing the application of social, intellectual and financial capital that is waiting in the wings to help these projects succeed.

Sean Stannard-Stockton