The 21 projects that made it to the NetSquared 2008 conference were created by passionate people that wish to use technology to improve the world, whether in their particular corner or far beyond. Some are regions that have met with disaster, including New Orleans, post-election Kenya, and the Darfur region. Others are the hometowns of the presenters, including Chicago, Los Angeles County, and (again) New Orleans. Still others seek to enact change everywhere, whether focused on the actions of the U.S. Congress in Washington or the questionable business practices of corporations.
Common focus areas of the projects include accountability of politicians, green practices (both of individuals and corporations), and freedom of information. Also, many of the projects are headed by millennials; if you ever had any doubt of this generation's intellectual curiosity or their commitment to bettering the world, take a look not only at the leaders of these groups but at the plugged-in constituencies that use their tools ever day.
In sum, for a quite telling peek into the world of Web 2.0 actors, I encourage you to browse the list of 21 finalist projects. Even those that are not victorious when the results are announced here later today will be impacting the greater world, as some are already live and others are seeking multiple sources of funding and development help to get off the ground.
Finally, an unrelated note: here are some photos of the special sessions that I attended in between consideration of these projects. I will likely not have a chance to write in depth about them but have learned loads of great things from their presenters and fellow audience members.
My next and last entry will announce the winners of the NetSquared Mashup Challenge! Stay tuned.