Friday, April 18, 2008

MyMission2: The World's First Aspirational Network

This month, MyMission2 took its BETA version public. The site hopes to use the idea of a "social contract" to connect people trying to achieve a goal with people who can help. The process is relatively straightforward; fill in some information about yourself, post your mission and start working toward the goal, or respond to the missions of others. This startup has a feel distinct from other social networking sites and is trying to maintain that distinction by concentrating on the mission at hand, so to speak. David Ashford, the CEO, calls this "content-to-people, rather than people-to-people," which makes it a refreshing change of pace for network sites.

Users of the site are known as "missioners". Those asking for help by posting a mission become "comissioners". Other users, the "responders", pledge their support by responding to the missions and form a sort of mini-community around each goal. Users enter their own mission descriptions and sort them by category. Each missioner has the ability to upload relevant files and reward the responder he or she feels has been the most helpful. Whenever a new mission is posted, select users are notified about it based on the information they provide in their profile. When I asked about this selection process, CEO David Ashford told me, "We only alert a small number of people... these are the people that are most likely to be able to help fulfil the mission."

These missions range from the ordinary ("I Want To Learn Spanish") to the somewhat more ambitious (one user aspires to "Live Forever"). What is surprising is the amount of support shown to almost any mission falling within this spectrum. Even the guy that wants to live forever receives a myriad responses, including links to articles on slowing the aging process. Admittedly, there are some strange and mangled requests, such as a plea to help "save the cheerlader" without any follow-on explanation. However, these seem to get weeded out quickly. The users on the site "get it" and tend to band together to discourage and report inappropriate and irrelevant inquiries.

The whole idea is a great example of building social capital. You can ask for help, but you will be rewarded for helping others as well. Each is expected to give and to receive based on a points system. For now, the points just add a bit of competition to the site and help distinguish newcomers from people who have been involved since the BETA went public. In the future, though, the site's creators hope to allow users to redeem their points for real-world rewards.

MyMission2 has been well-received by users, garnering over 3,000 members in its first week. One review has been mixed, however, citing lack of seriousness in the missions, as well as complaining about the amount of information the site wants from each user. It seems the first is being addressed by an active user community and a responsive customer service team, both of which insure that most missions appearing on the site are legitimate or at least not offensive. The second, however, is part of the nature of the beast. Due to the way others are notified of missions, the more information you provide the more you'll be able to help others.

Overall, the site has a few steps left till maturity, but it shows great potential and my experience with it has been extremely positive. Not only have I already seen feedback about this blog referred from MyMission2, but I've also made contact with other people trying to do similar things or accomplish goals which interest me. The MyMission2 team is working to improve usability and add functionality every day. New users are urged to take a look at the MyMission2 Blog for upcoming announcements. And of course, come support my mission on the site by providing feedback and ideas for this blog!

1 comment:

David Ashford said...

Hi Ski, it's been a while so I thought I would provide an update to how things are going here at mymission2 ...

We now have 48,000 missioners (registered users) and we're growing fast! We've started to roll out some new functionality such as chat, bookmarking, avatar image improvements, reward points improvements and some layout improvements. But most importantly, we've taken on board comments from users who said they didn't like being forced to their profile page and asked for more information about themselves every time they publish new missions or new responses. We're working on changing this so that they can publish content easily but they wont get any points for it if they haven't provided much information about themselves. We've been giving away prizes to our most active missioners every month and this has been really well received. We hope to secure some sponsors so that we can provide some really great incentives ongoing.

Let me know if you'd like any more info about any of this.

I'm sure you are very busy in Iraq - I hope you are safe and well. I look forward to hearing from you soon.