Has Worldirish.com missed a trick?

I’ve spent the last week immersed in the second Global Irish Economic Forum as the online producer for RTE.ie’s coverage of the event. I was excited to see something like Worldirish.com emerge on Friday. From the announcement it appeared to be something that Irish and Irish-connected people could really benefit from especially during a time when so many people are leaving Ireland to find opportunities elsewhere.

No other websites or social networks (that I’m aware of) offer what Worldirish.com does. In fact, there is no one place online, or off, that you can find a database of Irish people (including diaspora). That is its strength, its power and what gives it such opportunity.

I have some superficial issues with design and navigation, but I can look past those, they are by no means deal breakers. However what I can’t look past is the massive opportunity Worldirish.com has missed.

Worldirish.com is a directory. You need to know who you are looking for. As it is currently presented, it does not facilitate focused connection-building and that is very disappointing.

I appreciate the idea of connecting people by their values, but surely what we need is something more practical.

Here’s what I would have done if I had designed it. I would have asked people for more practical information. For example, there should have been fields for the following: current country of residence, current job title and, most importantly, current industry. With this information gathered a kick-ass search functionality could have been built in to help people find connections that were useful to them.

Consider a possible scenario, a recent graduate decides they are going to set up a start-up semi-conductor business in Timisoara, Romania. If Worldirish.com had the functionality I’m suggesting it could have helped that graduate to find Irish or Irish-connected people working in their industry, or a related one, in Timisoara or other parts of Romania. This kind of connection would have been massively beneficial and thoroughly practical for anyone in any industry.*

Here’s another example. I am hoping to travel to Uganda soon to work on a story. Finding Irish aid workers in a particular part of Uganda is currently very difficult to do. Something that made it easier would be very helpful. If Worldirish.com had industry and geographical information, connecting two Irish people, who don’t already know each other, and who live in different parts of the world could be done with a couple of clicks.

A journalist, an artist, a musician, a software designer or an electrician could have benefited from a site that created a network (or even a directory) like this. As far as I can tell, Worldirish.com cannot facilitate this level of practical connection-building the way it is currently set up.

I understand we have Linkedin (but it doesn’t take Irish and Irish-connected people and put them in one place) and that this site works hand-in-hand with it and other social networks (and that’s a great idea) but while I admire the attempt to connect across values I keep thinking about its potential and what it could be.

There is clearly an appetite for an online platform that connects Irish people. I hope future iterations of the site will enable the practical connections that we really need.

-Blathnaid

UPDATE: Mark Little has tweeted to say the site is still in beta and there is more to come.

(* This is of course working on the basis that people join Worldirish.com)

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19 thoughts on “Has Worldirish.com missed a trick?

  1. Hi Blathnaid,

    The site is still quite early (only been live since about August) and there is a LONG list of features which are being planned…

    I’ve been an informal advisor to John McColgan along with a bunch of other folk: its been a fun project so far to put together. We certainly hope Worldirish can continue to be different from anything else around…

    The team now has a full-time CEO (at long last… 🙂 in Michael Branagan for the last month or so. Hoping that things can accelerate as a result.

    Thanks for the feedback
    Best wishes
    Chris

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for the info! Delighted to see such forward planning. I think it has so much potential, am eager to see it develop into something great!

      Blathnaid

      PS loved your tweet the other day from the Forum regarding the flipchart!

      • The flipchart incident was absolutely true 🙂 Completely surreal.

        Going to put together a post to my own blog sometime over next few days I hope when I get a chance to catch my breath, a personal post-mortem on the Forum.

        Overall, IMHO the Forum was worth doing, but could be improved. I wasn’t in Farmleigh two years ago, but those who were seemed to think that the event this week was much better. So much achieved, more to be done 🙂

        best wishes
        Chris

  2. I also wondered how my listing of aspirations contributed to a global pool of interested players but then I saw the short paragraph about API calls that the WorldIrish developers are considering. It would be relatively straightforward to harvest all the attributes related to current industry, job title, and work location if the LinkedIn API connects to the WorldIrish back end. Why have any contributors double-enter those facts if they’re already vetted in another social network?

    So I’d reserve my judgment, happy enough that my first visit to WorldIrish was like putting post-it notes on a Johari Window.

    • Good point, but if it’s that simple, why was it not a feature from launch?

      I understand that it’s early days too. It’s good to see that the people involved are interested in feedback.

      Blathnaid

      • Wasn’t feature at the launch because its been a very small team, feeling its way, prioritising, and seeking feedback …

        best
        Chris

    • We’ve had a couple of days already in which we’ve invited independent (ie of worldirish team) developers to give comments, ask what API features they would want if they were to develop their own apps over the API etc…

      Also had great guidance and active support from both the Facebook and Google folks in Dublin…

      best
      Chris

      • Hi Chris. I am Co-founder of RendezVous353.com – The Irish Business and Social Network and have met Neil Leyden and Mark Little on a few occasions in the past when WI was Gateway Ireland. We launched in 2009 prior to Farmleigh. It has been suggested we partner with WI but as we are longer established, more functionally and member rich etc. the benefits to us are not obvious. Let me know your views?

  3. http://www.rendezvous353.com has already done this and has been in existence since 2009
    this already exists “there should have been fields for the following: current country of residence, current job title and, most importantly, current industry. With this information gathered a kick-ass search functionality could have been built in to help people find connections that were useful to them”

  4. Hi Blathnaid
    Just to echo Chris’s comments we are delighted to get feedback and I couldn’t agree more with your wish. I’m just over a month in and I can tell you the team worked hard to get the project where it is now. That’s not any excuse as in an ideal world we would have all this live for even beta launch. The feedback is invaluable though and thanks to everyone for that – come it coming and keep us on our toes for delivery! I d love to meet and discuss your suggestions and ideas in more detail. Thanks Michael Branagan.:)

  5. There doesn’t seem to be a single-minded force driving this in the same way as Facebook or Linkedin. While it is obviously a Beta, that story in the Sunday Independent ( http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/riverdance-boss-eyes-euro20m-worldirishcom-profit-2900554.html ) about it making 20 Million Euro profit per year within five years does skew the whole do-gooder view of things. The fact that a pile of other World(country/nationality) domains popped up around the same time was interesting in that if it is successful, there may be some thought being given to rolling it out for other countries and or nationalities.

    Is this a Linkedin/Youtube/Facebook for Irish people? It seems that it draws on features of these sites. There was a lot of waffle a few years ago about this site (or a previous incarnation of it) including Irish websites. However the reality of detecting and classifying such sites is beyond the skillset of the people involved. From its initial presentation, complete with “pillars” of content, it has evolved into something that might be usable. Personal search and connections might be a good area to start as it could, theoretically, use a lot the pre-existing social graph for members. However there’s a danger that while it has started out with the intention of becoming a Facebook for the Irish diaspora, it could end up as a Bebo. Eitherway, it should be interesting to watch it develop.

  6. Pingback: Leaving RTÉ for WorldIrish « Blathnaid Healy

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