And your point would be?

A website called The Point ("Make Something Happen") provides a framework in which you can raise support for a cause. The cause may be as grand as getting an oil company to lower gas prices or as humble as persuading the local Starbucks to install recycling containers.

A website called The Point ("Make Something Happen") provides a framework in which you can raise support for a cause. The cause may be as grand as getting an oil company to lower gas prices or as humble as persuading the local Starbucks to install recycling containers.

At The Point, there are two components to a cause: support and execution. Support specifies how many people (or how much money) you want to line up before action is taken (this is the "tipping point," in their parlance). Execution specifies the action you'll take if you get the support you need. So in the oil company example, the action happens to be "We will stop buying gas from this oil company," and the number of people required before action is taken is 20,000,000 (three have signed up). The Starbucks campaign is making more headway: the 60 people required will submit withering op-ed pieces to the local paper; seven have signed up to date. So What?

The Web has transformed certain segments of society (particularly younger segments, which are engaged with the US presidential elections to an unprecedented degree) from puddles of apathy to models of citizen action. And, through mass product review sites, it has empowered (can't stand that word) consumers in their love-hate relationship with retailers. The Point is clearly trying to apply the same basic idea--Web-enabled participation--to causes large and small (and borderline insane).

What I don't understand (there's usually something I don't understand) is this: Why should we all wait around until the "tipping point" is reached? Why not write an op-ed piece immediately or switch to a new gas station? If others join us, great! If not, we're still making a difference, however modest. To put it another way, why have 99 people poised to nail an Evil Corporation and then drop the idea because you can't recruit number 100?

I, too, have a cause, by the way. I want an acknowledgement from the music industry that we've heard lyrics with the words "baby" and "yeah"...enough. They're too easy and have become a crutch for pop composers. No new songs should be written using those words. If 50,000 people sign up for this cause, we'll all stop buying CDs. Hmm. Actually, an awful lot of people have already given up on CDs and now steal their music using BitTorrent. Rats. Doesn't look like we have much leverage with the music industry. Never mind.

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