Chris Hugues, a co-founder of Facebook has taken his experience with the single most popular social-networking site to build. The site’s ambitions are clearly set out: “Jumo is a social network connecting individuals and organizations who want to change the world. Leveraging connection technologies, Jumo enables people to find, follow and support those working toward solutions on the ground in their community and in regions across the globe.” Though the site presents itself as in ‘Beta,’ it has been up-and-running for a number of months now, and many users are starting to weigh in with their opinions. How is Jumo doing?
The social-networking pedigree of Jumo is evident right from the login page because a Facebook account is required to link into Jumo. Once inside, one’s profile and ‘friends’ enrich an algorithm meant to show the user the news and groups and donation sites that are of greatest interest to that user.
Mr. Hugues’s ambition is to keep people abreast of developments within areas of interest they have already begun to develop. “The more connected that individual is to an issue they care about, the higher probability there is they will stay involved over a longer period of time,” (quoted to Jenna Wortham in The New York Times).
Yet despite its ancestry and social-media savvy, a review by Care2’s Allyson Kapin suggests Jumo still needs to find a way to distinguish itself from a crowded field: “While Jumo has some cool Facebook integration, Twitter-like features and uses an algorithm to suggest projects and issues, many nonprofit campaigners say it needs to do much more to make it a valuable online social community that will lead to a deeper engagement.”
One of the themes of critique is that Jumo puts the emphasis on the networking, not on the action of getting involved in a specific philanthropy or donating to a specific cause. The web portal belies this notion, as it has a ‘Spotlight’ on three (rotating) charitable organizations, three ‘Top Projects,’ and three ‘Top Issues.’
But once inside one of these nine (or within any other) categories, one is indeed presented with a strikingly Facebook-like interface that takes some time to navigate (In an effort to speed up the learning curve: I finally found the link to the specific organization’s homepage in the left column of links – toward the bottom(!)).
Awkward though the interface might seem at first glance, Ms. Kapin points out how successful Facebook has become, and how Hugues’s entrepreneurial know-how is likely to drive great improvements on the site over the next number of months. Still, the field is crowded, and a cleaned up interface might not be enough. Then again, how many peoplewhile they spend hours a week using it?