If Facebook and Twitter are all about posting updates about you, then Lily Cole’s new venture is about what you can do for someone else.
The supermodel turned actress turned entrepreneur is setting up Impossible.com, a social network designed to foster a culture of giving.
Just as Freecycle is all about giving away items you no longer need, rather than simply throwing them away, Impossible.com will be all about giving away skills without expecting anything in return.
First Launch of Impossible.com
To get it off the ground, Impossible.com will launched first as a closed community for university students at Oxford and Cambridge before rolled out globally within a couple of months.
Cole, who achieved an impressive double first in the History of Art when she graduated in 2011, will be returning to Cambridge University to speak about the project.
The site currently has a holding page explaining the concept behind the new network. “There are only two things you can spend in this world,” it says, “money and time.
All the money in the world can’t buy a day, a minute, a second because time is all we have and right now you’ll have more of it than you’ll ever have.
You’re richer than you’ll ever be right this second, this minute, this day, so how are you going to spend it? Do something impossible, make time.”
The idea is to encourage people to gift skills and services to one another without expecting any reciprocation, in a bid to build “communities in local areas through goodwill”.
Lily Cole Background
Cole is well-known for her modelling work, appearing on the cover of Vogue at just 16, and for her television and movie career, having just appeared in Snow White and the Huntsman alongside Kirsten Stewart.
But she is also heavily involved in charity work, as an ambassador for children’s charity Global Angels and supporter of WaterAid and the Environmental Justice Foundation.
The 26-year-old first came up with the idea for Impossible.com during a trip to a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border three years ago. She said them she saw a sense of community and cooperation among camp inhabitants that was truly “humbling and inspiring”.
Cole has already tried, and failed, to launch the network a couple of times, losing her own money on the enterprise.
But she is now backed by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, which would appear to be a good fit as Impossible.com will enable users to share skills and services with each other in the same way Wikipedia allows people to gift knowledge.
She is clearly confident it will be third time lucky for her venture.
“Giving triggers social cohesion,” she said. “It’s also the basis for an economy not based on money. Impossible.com will facilitate that via social media.”
Cole added: “I have a suspicion that there is something in people who might respond to this way of interacting with one another that it could bring a huge amount of social value.”
It remains to be seen whether people really are willing to do something for nothing.