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Posted by on Sep 7, 2011

Kiva Visualization: 5 years of fluid funding; social interaction, trust

Nothing much by way of explanation, but just a fantastic visualization of Kiva lending and repayment over the last five years (taken from this blog). This was recommended to me by the same friend who took me to the Tenement Museum (the subject of the previous post) the other day, so he is proving himself to be awesome all the way around.

If you know me, you know I support Kiva in a big way so seeing visualizations like this actually reminds me, in a visceral way, that the money changing hands is significant and transformative. Kiva is a relatively simple concept in terms of providing a mechanism for matching philanthropic lenders to borrowers; it is just executed very well visually. Also, it is a good case study (and I would like to see some academic research done on this) in the execution of social network. Essentially, it is engaging lenders and borrowers socially and exhibits all the hallmarks of online social interaction. It establishes transparency and trust visibly, lowers the cost of participation (in terms of time, attention, and process) to a minimum, and navigates about as well as any site I know of. Interactions are color-coded, mapped, made accessible. The narrative of the borrower is thrust to the forefront, images scattered throughout. It just understands that the experience of lending, that association with the borrower, is a human, highly social process. It designs accordingly.

Now that I think of it, there is some real research that could be done on the Kiva experience. A very good example of a social network built around a philanthropic affinity. Anyone?

The images below are just to illustrate how good design can establish or reinforce trust, consistent navigation frees up cognitive space best left to the actual lending. Ultimately, what it is doing is telling a highly personal narrative of work, ambition, and opportunity. Who wouldn’t support that? In terms of the images, I enjoy the homepage as mosaic of people, the group lending page pitting the Atheists against the Christians (obviously they are competing), and the repayment rate. All the loans have been repaid to date and 0% default makes more an especially comforting lending experience.

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