Web – Helping People Help Themselves

Uplift Academy is one of the most inspiring organizations I have come across. An excerpt from their workshop announcement – How can 6 Billion People Help Each Other and Help Themselves? – A workshop in Paris

This rapid (and accelerating) advance in communications “wiring” is happening as the Internet is rapidly growing the content it can transmit over it. Huge communities have formed in very short time. eBay has about 150 million members for buying and selling. Myspace connects about 30 million users, signing up 3.5 million new ones each month. Technorati now lists 31 million blogs – people publishing their own journals. Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit that contains over 1 million articles, outstripping traditional encyclopedia publications. In China, hundreds of millions of people play the same video game. 60 million Skype users can use their computers to place phone calls to each other for free. There are free web sites to store photographs, videos, access email, or create blogs. A new model of web interaction, sometimes called Web 2.0, is characterized by greater individual control and content as well as richer networks of connections.

These changes mark a stunning reversal from an era of scarcity to an era of abundance. For example, an organization could create a system for 1 million users to have unlimited electronic mail, a blog (journal of activities), photo archives, video archives, wiki workspaces (openly editable storage areas) for the cost of basic internet connections. They could create audio or video “podcasts” – their own personal broadcast system. They could tag their information as they saw fit so that they could find each others’ postings. They could use a free service to translate text from one language to another (not perfectly – yet). They could carry audio or video information from an Internet café or office in town to play or record in remote villages on battery powered gadgets – or even mobile phones.

This puts all the current developments in a very different perspective. It is exciting to see intenet technology helping people help themselves.