Today I stumbled across Akoha, a new website/game/social experiment that has recently started in Montreal and is slowly working its way across the land.
Akoha works by turning good deeds into a points-based game. Which sounds horrifying, in a way, but still strikes me as a better grade of electronic past-time than, say, Grand Theft Auto. It works this way: you sign up and receive a deck of instruction cards in the mail. You do the good deeds on the cards and pass them on. The next person repeats the process and so the cards hop around from person to person, spreading tidbits of joy wherever they go. And everyone can follow the cards on their journey through the website. Here’s a little comic book that Akhoa has made to explain.
The endearing dorkiness of the whole enterprise really appeals to me. But I can’t actually imagine handing these cards out to strangers, myself, although I might give them to a select group of friends. First, like most people, I would find it simply embarrassing to slip one of these to someone I didn’t already know. Second, I would worry that the points system would retroactively undermine the altruism of what seems like a spontaneous act by turning the whole thing into a crass transaction.
But on balance, it’s an intriguing idea and a nice, socially-aware variant on a chain-letter or Bookcrossing.com. And if it takes a deck of cards and some web-2.0 zeitgeisty social networking to advance what you might hope was just basic human kindness, well, I’ll still take it.