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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.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read
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 Impossible.com.

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.