More than one person has pointed me to this BoingBoing post about Actics, the self-described “ethical community for companies and individuals” that provides “a new way to live your ethical values through feedback,” so I perused the site with interest. It’s a concept with potential, but it needs work.
Granted, Actics is still in beta, but basically all you can do right now is read members’ takes on concepts like environmentalism, integrity, and charity (ho-hum statements like “Walk whenever possible,” “Pursue what matters in a meaningful way,” and “Enjoy helping others”), as well as how they support those values through their actions. You can also check out how people are rated by others in the community. Everyone starts with a neutral 50 percent; members can rate one another to nudge that number up or down, and can also give feedback on how to be more ethical.
What’s not clear to me is why Actics throws people and companies together in the same pot of stew. I’m far more interested in reading (and potentially generating) feedback and ratings on companies than individuals. And so far there are a lot more people than businesses on Actics. Then again, I suppose there’s value in knowing something about the folks who are rating and giving feedback to companies. But Actics should emphasize the people-vs.-business differentiation on its front page.
Another improvement would be the ability to search companies by business type. That way, someone looking for, say, an ethical graphic design firm could find some options and read about each one’s values to see who fits the bill.
Another question I have is whether Actics is preaching to the choir; after all, any company that joins must already think of itself as ethical to some extent. What about all the others outside the fold? Will Actics membership—and the potential to be highly rated on the network—become enough of a competitive differentiator that it will motivate less enlightened businesses to clean up their act and join?
I hope the answer is yes.