The January 2006 issue of Vegetarian Times has an article, “Go for the Green,” providing information for consumers about eco-savvy companies. One blurb, Green Rated Products, spotlights the purpose of Alonovo.com, a cool company that empowers consumers to choose the companies focused on issues that are important to them. Since I can’t find an online link to the article directly, I am recreating it here.
Alonovo.com - from the Latin alo novo for “nurturing change” - is an online eco-shopping service that’s associated with Amazon.com. Find a product on Alonovo, and in addition to the description, reviews and price, you’ll also see a five-dot rating for the company that produced it. Better still, Alonovo allows you to influence the ratings that products and companies recieve by weighting the values most important to you - Healthy Environment, Business Ethics and so forth. Best of all, you can buy products through Alonovo at Amazon prices - but 20 percent of revenues are sent to a non-profit that you specify. Amazon processes the transaction and ships the goods.
Launched in August 2005, Alonovo (a for-profit company) is one of a number of new services designed to help consumers make smart choices. Similar in concept is Idealswork (idealswork.com), which allows you to put more emphasis on a company’s animal-welfare policies, for example, than on its concern for workplace equity - or vice versa.
How good will Alonovo be? “If it catches on,” says Joel Makower, “it could be one of the most powerful social change tools ever put into consumers’ hands.”
Article © 2006 Vegetarian Times, Inc. Not only does this article highlight the powerful potential of using feedback systems for consumers, but it does so in easy to understand terms. Talking about currencies and their applications need not be difficult or confusing. Given our wide definition of currencies, it is very easy to identify every day examples of where we use special currencies. These include the often-mentioned frequent flier miles and food stamps, but also include postage stamps, theatre tickets, and grades / credits / degrees in school. Even movie ratings (G, PG-13, R, etc) and “4-star” ratings are something we interact with on a regular basis. (Unless, of course, we’re hermits in the deep forest of Alaska - but then we wouldn’t be reading this, would we?)
I think this is a great example of how currencies, specifically reputation ratings, can be leveraged by businesses and consumers in an important way.