In Spring 2004, Omidyar Network created a set of collaborative tools to facilitate our work as an organization. We found it useful, and a few months later in July 2004, we opened up access to the tool set to anyone and everyone working toward making the world a better place.
We chose the approach of a self-managed community in the hope people would find shared interests and discover their power to make good things happen. Indeed, in the three years since we opened the omidyar.net tool for external use, thousands of members have met, posted, discussed and collaborated in the many groups and discussions and workspace pages on omidyar.net. And while the connections may have been made here, the positive impact has spread to many other online communities as well as real world communities across the globe. Through several experimental and experiential collaborative funding projects, the omidyar.net community has directed thousands of dollars to organizations making good things happen around the world.
This summer, instead of deciding where to direct funding, omidyar.net members will decide how to migrate to other community platforms.
O.net is handling its closure with transparency, clarity, dignity and concern for the work that was created there by many hands. A number of us, a little tribe, that had formed around gifthub migrated to O.net when it opened. The tribe prospered there. Other tribes and individuals joined, and the tribes grew and mixed. Although I did not post there much in recent months I checked in almost every day. A key finding seems to be that these discussions around giving are issue specific, or "point of view" specific - tribal in a certain way. It is very difficult to create a tribe of tribes around giving because the people, areas of interest, personal styles, and passions are so different. Over and over I am learning the same lesson, without knowing quite how to draw the moral. A dispassionate, universal conversation about giving is dull - unbelievably dull. But to speak out with passion, from within your own perspective, your little community of value, can be divisive too. So, the answer that seems to have precipitated out of Omidyar is that we form smaller tribal giving discussion groups, and link them lightly. Yes, but at the same time, the greatest challenge remains America as a tribe of tribes. That was the Founder's challenge too. How, then, can we federate our giving conversations so that we can be both tribal around passion at certain moments, but also inclusive and embracing of other tribes at other times? I try to do both here, but am aware that I fail at it daily.