In the spirit of new technologies doing things that matter and impact society, the Fast Forward Blog has a project to use public TV to help people make connections around the issue of Mortgage and Debt problems.
For me, there are a couple of brilliant points in the middle of this project: The Public TV acts as "the trusted place" where the conversations can be initiated; to paraphrase earlier posts by Seamus McCauley and Umair Haque it is a trusted place, where people like us can share some opinion and knowledge to make a change. The other thing I find interesting is that they are using Ning to support the service from a social networking point of view.
A central problem in "surfacing this community of interest" is that to date they may not want to "hold their hand up", and go search for a community. But because there is a "mass media" outlet that can centrally direct them to a trusted place, there is the potential for critical mass. These people can "get organised"