The Social (Activist) Web

Posted on Oct 15, 2005

Like you, I’ve been reading much of the commentary online about Web 2.0 at various blogs and sites the last month or so, and particularly this last week as the O’Reilly Web 2.0 conference came and went here in SF.

While many have provided insightful thinking into the social implications and technical innovations of this current wave of web, it seems that much of what I’ve read in the last couple of weeks could be described as a kind of black and white analysis of what makes Web 2.0 and what doesn’t, or a volley between business speculations (bubble or no bubble, who bought who, which company CEOs took potshots at whom during the panels). In some cases, the conversation has simply broken down into a display of mano a mano egos or a rush to judgement without the patience to see the forest for the trees (eg. the commenters in this post). Suffice it to say, I haven’t been impressed with those discussions.

I’d like to point to three conversations about web and technology that did effect me this week, and ask that you also have a look – and then act.

Technology can save lives
At Get Real, Stowe Boyd, well-known media subversive and President/COO of Corante, writes a compelling post in Recovery 2.0: Or Maybe Disaster 2.0? Stowe makes several points, but primarily, he challenges us to take personal responsibility and collective action to enact a “new model of civil authority.” Make “a pervasive investment — at the local or municipal level — in disaster-resistent wifi mesh technologies.” Learn how by reading his post. For a background on Wi-Fi mesh networks, read the MIT Technology Review article, Long-Distance Wi-Fi: Protocol extends the range of wireless networks.

Turn influence into action
Author and agent of change, Seth Godin, and his collaborators in The Big Moo are also taking individual and collective action to change the world – one school at a time. In Thanks to You, Seth posts photos of “first school built as a result of sales of The Big Moo.” Support the building of more schools by purchasing a copy of The Big Moo and then tell your friends, readers, and colleagues to do the same.

Protect digital rights and support free culture
Creative Commons, the organization known for working to create creative licensing system that “values innovation and protection equally,” has launched a fundraising campaign. Lawrence Lessig, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Creative Commons and Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, has been blogging each week about the need for support and a continued movement towards the protection of free culture and digital rights for authors and creators who want to license work as “Some Rights Reserved.” As Lessig writes, “…we believed that by building a buttress of free culture (meaning culture that can be used freely at least for some important purposes), we could resist the trends that push the other way. Most importantly, the trend fueled by the race to “digital rights management” (DRM) technologies.” Read CC in Review: Lawrence Lessig on How it All Began and support Creative Commons with a donation.

Our world. Our humanity. Our rights. If Web 2.0 is about people, let’s make a difference.

In my last post, I marveled at the traffic to my site and around the social web. If the 1800 of you that have bookmarked eHub in del.icio.us or the 6798 daily unique visitors to my site gave a mere $10 each to a cause you believed in, that would be a total of $85,980.

For our part, Max and I both donated to Creative Commons. We’ve always done pro bono work for nonprofits and now, as Ideacodes LLC, we plan to do several pro bono projects a year. Most recently, we helped create the Sogan Foundation website, a nonprofit currently raising money to build The Tibetan Institute of Science and Technology (TIST) in Golok, Tibet. The TIST will be the center of instruction at the Capitol City Tibetan High School, the first and only Tibetan high school to serve the people of Golok. To become involved or to donate, please visit the contribute page.

1 comment

  1. Marshall Kirkpatrick on October 19, 2005 at 11:02 AM:
    Folks interested in seeing a huge number of organizations using tech to effect change should go look at (and offer some energy via) http://techsoup.org

    Given the state of the world and the way that most people are experiencing it, if we’re excited about these new tools just for their own sake – then we have some cold, cold hearts.  Let’s prove that’s not the case!