Härnu: A Social Network Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Härnu is a new social networking platform that encourages people to connect with people around the world to discuss global issues,  foreign news or just about anything – in their own languages.

Härnu, which is Swedish for “here” and “now,” hopes to inspire people around the world to have direct conversations, form friendships, and talk about issues and news in their areas. The nearly year-old Seattle startup that was founded by Brent Turner, Jason Gowans, Paul Dixon and Will Little (former employees of aQuantive, DS-IQ and StartupRocket), is looking to bring people closer together through a new social networking platform that connects people anywhere.

Co-founder Jason Gowans told GeekWire that since its soft launch in August, thousands of users from more than 100 countries signed up for Härnu. These users are posting articles from their local papers and engaging in thoughtful conversations and live group chats. To overcome language barriers, the platform uses Google Translate.

Not everyone speaks the same one, so creating a place where anyone can communicate is no easy task. Yet, Turner notes that translation technologies — such as Google Translate — have reached  ”reasonable point” in their evolution where people can effectively communicate online even if they don’t know how to speak Spanish or Farsi.

To some degree, Härnu is a combination of Facebook, Wikipedia and Quora — all on a global map. Users choose where to post their messages — say Manchester, Cairo or Tel Aviv — and then wait for responses from those corners of the world. Users also can simply peruse topics, checking out what’s been posted by other members of the community on the map.

Turner adds,

“Most people that we tell about Härnu say: “Why isn’t anyone doing that?”  It is, of course, possible to meet and connect with people based on shared interest on other social networks; we believe we are the only group building a community where building such connections is actually the point of the platform,” he said.

With all the social media networks, do we really need one more? The answer is not simple. Härnu is different and is trying to play a meaningful role. While with other networks likes like Facebook, the platform focusses on making connections with people (or brands) you know or want to know, Härnu encourages you to reach out just beyond your comfort zone.

Too often, we are so wrapped in our own lives, it helps to have an idea of what is happening on the other side of this globe we call home. Simply being aware of different cultures and people helps us become more sensitive, empathetic and understanding. Agree or not, this attitude is the foundation for finding solutions to some big global issues we are facing. I also see this tool as a great way to crowdsource news and events and listen to citizen voices.

Watch the video to learn how Härnu works!


About the Author

Hi there! I am Priti and I specialize in strategy and communications for impact organizations that aim to create social, environmental and economic wealth for all stakeholders. Working from the ground up, I help these do-gooders craft effective programs for community engagement, outreach and profitability. Follow my work covering do-gooders, cleanweb, start-ups and Web 2.0 businesses on Ecopreneurist and at Crowdsourcing Week. I enjoy traveling with my boys, cooking up a gourmet meal from scratch and entertaining! Join my community for Social Entrepreneurs on G+ Follow me on Twitter, on LinkedIn and Google+