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)