First Life is a project funded by the call Smart Cities and Communities and Social innovation of Ministry
of University and Research of Italy for young reseachers under 30 years.
First Life proposes a new social network which revises the basis of existing ones and has the following
1) It offers a geo-referenced representation like Google Maps does, but it is more dense and interactive.
2) It does not have a global scope, but it is focused on neighours, the dimension where we live our
3) It is mediated in that every neighbourhood is associated with a journalist which re-elaborates the
information put by citizens on the social network and manages a local newspaper proposing topics of
interests for the citizens.
By more dense and interactive we mean that the citizens can not only put opinions on restaurants like it
happens now, but they can put information about every aspect of the local reality they live in, from
schools to playgrounds, from entertainment events to local news. First life will be populated with entities
downloaded from open data (hospitals, shops, etc.) or added by users, which can create their own forms
describing the fields of the entities and classifying them according to an ontology of social practices. For
every entity, users can add information, blogs, pictures, or organize online events, like chats to discuss
The goal of First Life is to make citizens more connected, more conscious of the place they live in and
more active. First Life harvests the knowledge and services which are now scattered around many
websites often unknown to the wide public websites, focusing them on a local area. It reduces the
overloading of information by filtering them on a locality principle. It can be the basis for co-production
(in the sense of the Nobel Prize Elinor Ostrom) and Do It Yourself activities, it can be used to advertise
new shops, services or events in the local area, it allows people to organize their own events, to start
discussions on local issues.
The business model ensuring the sustainability of the project is to be financed by advertisements and by
contribution of citizens which want to become stakeholders of the local newspapers. Starting from a first
test neighbourhood, First Life will be extended to other ones and other cities using a franchising
First Life respond to the worries raised by existing social networks, such Google+ and Facebook. First,
the so called filter bubble noted by Eli Pariser: the personalization of information from social media
closes us in a private world reducing the opportunities for serendipity. Second, the reduction of social
space by social media, leading to an urban desert: as Evgeny Morozov says, public space is only what
separates our home from the restaurant with good online reviews our Google Car is driving us to.