By Cheryl Mahoney
How much of your time do you spend on the internet? Obviously some–you’re here, after all! Personally, I’m on here eight hours a day for my job, and usually some time in the evening once I’m off of work too. For me, the internet’s where I go when I’m communicating with a friend, looking up a random fact, trying to remember a quote, puzzling over where I’d seen that actor before, looking for movie times, needing directions, checking to see if my library books are overdue, looking at my credit card bill, wanting to feed the hungry with one click…and on and on and on. I think we’re all a bit like that. And mostly, we don’t think about it–I don’t, anyway.
But some people do. The people over at One Web Day definitely do. One Web Day is all about celebrating the openness and interconnectedness created by the internet, and the power of the web to transform the world. An annual event on September 22, they consider themselves the Earth Day for the Internet. Earth Day is all about bringing environmental concerns in front of the world. One Web Day is intended to do the same for the internet. They had events in thirty-four cities across the world last year, and they’re gearing up for this year–less than a month away! The slogan is “One Web. For All” and the goal is to empower everyone to access the internet and to use it freely.
I admit, most of my examples up above of how I use the web are not really going to change the world. Not as individual actions. But it’s the cumulative that counts. It’s the spread of information, and the spread of connections. I can look up a random quote or a fact I’m curious about. Suppose a child in Africa could do the same. One fact won’t change her life, but the ability to access knowledge and information will. It’s about the freedom of information to spread. Twitter became an important spread of information during the aftermath of elections in Iran. Blogging has become an incredible tool for the freedom of communication. Sure, a lot of the internet is frivolous or unimportant, but not all of it–and sometimes the parts that seem frivolous are important after all. Besides, even if only 10% of what happens on the internet actually matters (I’m making this figure up), that’s all right. Because the internet opens up endless possibilities, and 10% of infinity is still infinity.
So if you use the internet (and clearly you do!) and want to celebrate the possibilities, visit One Web Day’s site. You can join their network and look for groups in your city, or read the blog for stories about supporters, and to learn how you can get involved too. If you’d like to help spread the internet and ensure one web for all, come visit UniversalGiving. You can sponsor one month of internet access for a classroom in rural China (just $15!), or help World Computer Exchange enhance internet connections in developing countries, or even volunteer in Ethiopia teaching children to use computers. Imagine the possibilities.