What’s shakin’, Bacon?

May 10, 2011, 3:02 a.m.

Dan McCabe, chief development officer of Network for Good, speaks on Kevin Bacon’s SixDegrees.org

Footloose, Apollo 13 and Animal House star Kevin Bacon is making an appearance at Stanford tomorrow to talk about “Social Networking for Social Good” at 5:30 p.m. in Paul Brest Hall, alongside Graduate School of Business professor Jennifer Aaker, who has researched how social media can be an amplifying force for social good. Bacon’s charitable social media website, SixDegrees.org, is linked with Network for Good, a website that enables one to donate, volunteer and fundraise for charities and nonprofits. The Stanford One Degree challenge is SixDegrees.org’s initiative to look for the “next big idea” that will connect people to advance charitable causes.

The Stanford Daily spoke with Network for Good’s Chief Development Officer Dan McCabe about his work with Kevin Bacon, the SixDegrees site and the One Degree challenge.

What's shakin', Bacon?
(Courtesy of SixDegrees.org)

How did Bacon come up with the name SixDegrees.org? What is its significance?

Bacon became known for the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game. This went on for a while. In some cases, he didn’t want to be known just because of all the people he’s been in movies with, but it became excessively popular, so he figured he had to do something good with this. He ended up registering SixDegrees.org.

How is his website a social networking website for charity?

There are these things called Charity Badges, which are visual billboards for favorite causes. You go to the site, go to your profile, pick your charity badge and write a brief story about why you’re so passionate about this badge. It’s great for people getting involved in fundraising. This year, he wanted to go to college campuses because students know the latest and greatest of social media.

As an actor, it seems interesting that Kevin Bacon should be involved in technology and social networking. What does Bacon know specifically about social media?

Kevin would be the first to say that he isn’t an expert in social media. However, he realizes that as a celebrity, he can attract attention and do something good with it. Bacon called us [Network for Good] and came up with his site. The site is managed by Network for Good, but Kevin is directly involved.

Why did Bacon and Network for Good challenge Stanford to come up with charitable ideas?

There was a collaborative brainstorm to do a challenge. We wanted to come up with a new idea for SixDegrees. He figured college students would have a great idea. I have a colleague at the Haas center who has told me all the things you were doing. We got into a conversation about expanding the definition of public service. A few months later, I called him and talked to him about this idea.

Did Bacon and Professor Jennifer Aaker know each other before setting up this event?

Jen’s theories and mantra of the “butterfly effect” line up almost perfectly with Kevin’s philosophy of small groups of people creating ripple affects. They’ve never met before, and I don’t think he’s intimately familiar with her work, but I think there’ll be some pretty cool sparks on stage.

How will Kevin and Network for Good work with the winners of the challenge?

Kevin will meet the finalists and the winner personally. With the winner, he’ll have a lot of conversations to refine ideas. AOL has joined this too, and if students want to make something more than an idea, AOL has offered the winner office space for six months. By the end of the year, we hope to launch either a campaign or tool for SixDegrees, and we’ll recognize the student who came up with the idea.

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