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The PlanetWork Initiative
by Robyn L
The World Summit on Sustainable Development
source: iNetNews

Robyn working with Jim, founder of PlanetWork
Johannesburg, South Africa •• Sept. 2, 2002 •• SolarQuest® iNet News Service •• The PlanetWork Consortium is an exciting new virtual initiative, bringing together information technology professionals and civil society in an attempt to create a dynamic network of individuals, organizations and businesses that support the concepts laid out in the Earth Charter: social justice and ecological sustainability. It will attempt to network those with common values and environmental perspectives, giving access to a web of interlinked ideas and people, allowing an interactive, online global village.

The process of formation began in 1998 with the founding of Planetwork, Inc. An international PlanetWork conference held at the Presidio in May 2000 resulted in the establishment of an informal group, Webcabal, to discuss various possibilities and potential implementation strategies. This process, in 2001, became LinkTank which proposed to facilitate the development of tools that allow organizations to better interact with their own membership and then by virtue of many people in many overlapping networks using interoperable tools, a very large network can be formed. So was born.

An important concept of PlanetWork’s initiative is the idea that the individual will control their own identity online: the network will reflect what each member chooses to portray – a vital element for internet empowerment.

PlanetWork operates for parties that align themselves with the Earth Charter and its associated agreements; in doing this they use methods that are both transparent and collaborative and are looking to set global standards in social purpose inter-networking. The project relies on the ability of members to represent themselves electronically and a willingness to work together towards an outcome that could not be achieved on an individual basis.

As aforesaid, each user will be able to create a self-maintained and controlled digital identity. They may be linked and associated with other users who have similar interests if they so choose. Benefits of participating include reduced database costs and only public portions of records being available to the anonymous web-surfer. The programme will have a number of levels, with the first level based on entirely non-commercial interests. Many members will want and have access to economic links that will benefit all involved. This will take place on levels beyond that of just basic social interaction.

This website was created using new social network software tools so that organisations can see themselves as a whole and identify a regular purpose and commitment. It attracts organisations who want to devote their technical expertise towards helping humanity towards sustainable development. In essence, it brings together and integrates software therefore facilitating the emergent global network.

A few of the facilities available are:

  1. Mirroring – this makes it possible to explore a network of people and organisations who share similar interests and common views.
  2. Messaging – this filters and pre-files message traffic and implements new messaging protocols allowing for better management.
  3. Earth Charter – a statement of purpose on stability and social justice values shared by a vast majority of humanity is to be developed. An online process will be available whereby one registers to become a “planetary citizen” by endorsing the Earth Charter.

There are three main areas of participants:
  1. Information technology developers and creative professionals.
  2. Social networkers, organizations, and working groups.
  3. Highly networked and high net-worth individuals interested in facilitating social change.

So by incorporating the latest in information and WorldWideWeb software, members and partners who are committed and interactive, and a deep concern for the environment and the state of our world, PlanetWork emerges as a forerunner in the age of computer technology and ecological sustainability.

Compiled by:
Robyn Leslie
Anna Taylor
Pippa Harris
Amanda Paton - Ash

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