Increasingly, organizations with an interest in facilitating social change have turned to the Internet to recruit and mobilize supporters, to publish their ideas in the hope of gaining relevance in policy debates, and to solicit resources to support their offline activities. Some organizations have even begun to exploit possibilities offered by new ICT to engage directly in bottom-up social change, rather than entering public policy debates, participating in electoral politics, or seeking to induce action from legislators or government agencies.
These organizations use web-based ICT to coordinate networks that conceive, plan, implement and publicize small- scale social experiments. Unlike the blogosphere, these organizations and their web-based activities are intended to result in action, not just talk; and action that is not just one-off, like a big demonstration, but embedded in streams of interaction that result in changes in the way in which some aspects of society are organized, in accordance with social aims – like education, or services to socially marginalized groups or individuals, or extending access to (perhaps new forms of) cultural experience.
These organizations, the social innovators in their networks, and INSITE researchers explore in theory and practice how to manage networks that engage in small-scale social experiments, how to monitor and evaluate their effects, and how to scale-up the socially valuable ones.