Lily Cole's social network Impossible starts granting wishes in April

Altruistic social network Impossible, backed by model Lily Cole and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, will launch after a beta at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Model Lily Cole attends a photo call to announce the winners of the Gatwick Runway Models competition at Gatwick Airport North Terminal on Aug. 6, 2010, in London. Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images

BARCELONA, Spain--A social network based on making wishes and helping others, backed by Lily Cole and Jimmy Wales, is to launch in April -- but first, it's helping Oxbridge students help each other.

I caught up with the folks behind "altruistic social network" Impossible at mobile industry wingding Mobile World Congress here. Before it launches to the public in April, Impossible will run as a closed beta among students of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Britain's most venerated seats of drinking learning.

Model, actress, and occasional Time Lord-bothering sea creature Lily Cole conceived the selfless social network. Members "make a wish," publishing something they need or want to do, like learning Spanish. Other members in the local area then offer to help.

It doesn't have to be reciprocal -- if someone teaches you Español, you don't necessarily have to do anything for them. Instead, they're rewarded with the warm glow of a selfless act, and within Impossible they're awarded a "thank-you."

I saw a rough demo version of the site and mobile app, in which a wish, represented by a block of text, is converted to a thank you, represented by a lovely picture. Collecting a thank-you forms a sort of currency or rating -- like your eBay feedback number -- although there's no plans to make it negotiable. Instead you rack up the thanks just to show what a jolly wonderful person you are.

One could argue that putting a number on how much you help people isn't entirely altruistic. Still, it's a noble idea, and we like the idea of meeting new people based on a desire to help others. If you're feeling helpful, click Play on the video below to see Lily explain more, or sign up for e-mail alerts at

For the latest smartphones, tablets, and other cool stuff -- including a Wi-Fi coffee machine, a 21st century walking stick, and a Spotify app with a car attached -- check out our in-depth news, previews, and videos from Mobile World Congress.

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