Here's an article about the latest trends in charitable giving. Instead of trying to coax people to pull money out of their pockets, charitable organizations are setting up websites that allow you to do things that you normally do online and capturing a portion of the advertising revenue. For example, instead of performing a web search through a regular search engine, you perform it through some charity's website. The charity sends your search off to a normal search engine and collects a small amount of money from advertisers for each search request that is brokered through their site.
One of the people profiled in the article is Dave King, a friend of mine who has created Lil' Green Patch, a Facebook application that works in a similar fashion. Instead of performing searches, you send virtual plants to your friends. For every 10 plants that you send, 1 sq foot of rainforest land in Costa Rica is saved. I've been using Facebook for a couple of months now and tending my own Lil' Green Patch, though I have to confess that I haven't been much of a virtual gardener. For whatever reason, I can't really get too enthused about sending virtual plants to people. In general, I've found that my personality is not all that compatible with Facebook. I have a pathological aversion to talking about myself and bothering other people, and really, what else can you do on Facebook other than talk about yourself and bother others? I realize that my fear is largely irrational, so maybe Facebook will help me get over my fear of annoying people. If anyone out there wants some virtual plants, let me know.