Social Tech - under the radar

In Brooklyn it's clear that the market is inundated with tools and services to support community and commerce: Craigslist, Browstoner, and Etsy to name a few. I've been thinking about new tools for commerce and community development, but as the proverb goes, you can't fill a cup that is already overflowing.

I just returned from visiting family in Oracle, AZ. I've been there before, but this visit was particularly inspiring. I observed the richness of the community and landscape, and the pervasive creative spirit.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="455" caption="Light Festival at Triangle L Ranch in Oracle, AZ"][/caption]

The town's small size (population 3500), low visibility, high concentration of artists and creative people, and low saturation of technology tools make it the ideal testing ground for new approaches to social tech and tools to enrich community and connectedness. The town has a website and many of the artists there have some web presence. However, social tech goes much further than having a website. It leverages a variety of online and offline services, some customized, some 3rd-party. Furthermore, it's important to democratize the technologies so that everyone in the community may use them.

I'm in the process of deciding how I might contribute to building a technology foundation for the community, while giving them the tools they need to continue building. Beyond specific technologies, training and education would be in order. Finding a few community leaders that can be proponents of the initiative, as well as some volunteers to take on and share technical training would be the main goals. Maybe a collaboration in Oracle can serve as a model for other small communities to spring-board into a more connected space. If you know of similar initiatives, please leave your comments.