In his forthcoming book CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing The World, newcritics.com writer Tom Watson says super-wired Americans can wield extraordinary influence through their net-based social networks.
And the rapid global growth in the use of mobile telephony for sending short text messages (also known as short message service, or SMS) may be the companion service that make these networks really action-oriented. Forty-three billion text messages were sent over last New Year's Eve alone! This shows texting is not just for sore-thumbed teenagers or rabid Blackberry addicts anymore.
photo millicent bystander @ flickr
Take fish texting. Blue Ocean Institute has established what it calls FishPhone in which you send the Institute a text message about a fish you are thinking of eating or buying, and the Institute replies with a green light message or some sustainable alternatives.
In European nations such as Sweden that were a little faster to adapt to cell phone usage, texting is more and more the paperless way to get things done. You can contribute to charities by SMS as well as take out a loan (dangerous as well as convenient) or buy your train ticket (you use your saved confirmation message to show to the conductor). And now in the U.S. fish texting gives you a quick, up to the minute read on a more-sustainable dinner choice.
The adaptation of texting to help make social groups make greener choices is hopefully just in its infancy. Open Green Maps, for example, is in the process of designing interactive online maps that would use texting to let users share information about sustainable services and events in their town, while Goose Networks lets users deploy texts to link together prospective ride shares. And kiwanja.net is working on ways to use texting in developing nations for one-to-many communications on environmental and social change issues.
The possibilities could be far-reaching. Texting is great because it's pretty cheap and can have better (and faster) market penetration than computers. So if we are all going to have cellular devices in our pockets anyway, it's great if in addition to talking we can use them for direct green action.
More from TreeHugger on Texting
::The 10 Solutions to Save the Oceans
:Find Biodiesel With Your Cell Phone
:FishPhone: Get Your Sustainable Seafood Report on the Go
:In China Hold the Cell Phone for Environmental Activism
:Open Green Map: Real-time Mapping for Growing Green Communities