I met yesterday with Tom Steinberg, director of MySociety, who has recently created an extraordinary tool for collective action. PledgeBank is one of those ideas that is so brilliantly simple you wonder why it hasn’t been done before.
The idea is to solve the problem of collective action: there are lots of things people are only willing to do if others will do it too. How do you get that first mover? On PledgeBank it’s simple. Anyone can post a pledge: for example, I’ll pick up rubbish on the banks of the River Taff in Cardiff if five other people will too (an actual pledge that worked). After just a couple of months in the UK, the site there has generated thousands of pledges.
Some have spurred significant action. A pledge to donate £10 to a fund to fight government ID cards provided 10,000 others did as well has over 11,000 signatures. So there’s now a financed legal fighting fund to help those who refuse to register for ID cards.
Tom is over here to try and launch PledgeBank in the US. One of the glories of the idea is that it can translate easily to any country (unlike previous MySociety projects like Downing Street Says and Fax Your MP). There are only two US pledges so far. More are needed to get the project rolling.