LAS VEGAS -- Three members of the Class of 2006 from Advanced Technologies Academy in Las Vegas have developed a social networking website that could churn out the valley's next generation of community organizers.
The brains behind tech startup Ayloo.net, Mark Cicoria, Mark Johnson and Shaun Swanson, found a way for people who share a passion for everything from urban farming to alternative education to tech talk to participate in online "streams" or conversations that use moderators to keep the dialog on topic.
The organizers of Build a Greener Block, which is planning a bustling street scene for the 1000 block of South Main Street next weekend, used Ayloo to communicate with one another and drum up interest in their form of environmentally friendly urban renewal.
"I came up with the name Ayloo from the Inca word Ayllu, which is what they called their small cultural groups," Johnson said.
Although the Internet has long been a place where people with shared interests can trade thoughts on a specific topic, one advantage of Ayloo is the ease with which people who live in the same city can organize around a particular issue and then take action to achieve a goal. If, for instance, participants use Ayloo to organize a meeting or event, they can return to the online stream between meetings to share new ideas.
"If you rely on email, that could be a nightmare because you may have to put in 30 names and a lot of information could get lost," Johnson said.
As a grid city where communities are spread out, Las Vegas residents may find it more difficult to organize than in places such as San Francisco and New York City, where people literally live above the businesses they frequent, Johnson said. Ayloo seeks to solve that problem.
Mark Johnson of Ayloo sits back in front of one of Ayloo's wall of ideas.
Since launching its website in September from a rented unit at the Ogden residential complex, Ayloo has hosted roughly 50 streams that are based in Las Vegas. One advocates the idea of creating alternative education downtown by seeking experts in particular fields -- whether it is cooking or collecting baseball cards -- to teach courses on their fields of expertise.
"Our long-term vision is we want people to lead more passion-driven lives," Swanson said. "We want people to lead more passion-driven lives because it makes people happier. Ayloo allows you to act on your passion."
Shaun Swanson and Mark Cicoria of Ayloo discuss their plans for Ayloo.
It's free to sign up on the website and start one's own stream. Ayloo strives to serve four constituency groups with each stream. There are the stakeholders, such as a coffee shop, which may be impacted by whatever the users of the stream wish to accomplish. The organizers are those who are leading the charge by getting everyone together. There are also participants who follow the organizers' lead. And there are outsiders, those who aren't involved in the organized activity but may want to take part in the future.
As Johnson sees it, Ayloo is a way to become a community activist without needing an inside relationship with elected officials to get things done.
"If you go to a city council meeting, you have to work within their parameters to have impact," Johnson said. "The Internet is providing organizers with accessibility to people that they didn't have before."