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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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September192008

How Are You Celebrating OneWebDay?

It’s that time of year again - and no, I’m not talking about Talk Like a Pirate Day. (Arrgh!) I’m talking about OneWebDay, an annual virtual gathering of volunteers around the world who believe the Internet can be used to make a positive difference around the planet.

Often referred to as an Earth Day for the Internet, OneWebDay was originally launched on September 22, 2006 by Internet law professor Susan Crawford. With the help of A-list bloggers and Internet activists around the world, it’s become an annual event, the next one taking place this Monday, September 22. Historically, OneWebDay has encouraged people to find a way to give back to the Internet for one day - like serving as a volunteer to teach an elderly neighbor how to use email or helping students improve their media literacy skills by having them examine political ads on YouTube.

This year, they’re taking a thematic approach, focusing on E-Democracy. From Cleveland to Kiev, Internet activists will get together on Monday to participate in a range of community events. In New York, Internet celebrities like Craigslist creator Craig Newmark and Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig will gather in Washington Square Park as senior citizens rally at City Hall in support of technology skills for the elderly. Meanwhile, activities will also take place across the Net, from YouTube to Facebook.

One of the highlights of this year’s event will be the E-Democracy Time Capsule. Organizers are inviting the public to submit a range of content - stories about E-Democracy heroes, tools for online civic participation, essays about Internet policy goals, even letters to the future. All of these contributions will be sealed into a time capsule and re-opened 12 years from now on September 22, 2020. We’ll then be able to look back and see our collective vision for the promise of the Internet as a tool for civic engagement - and whether that vision held true over time.

“OneWebDay is about ‘One Web,’” said Sir Tim Berners Lee, creator of the World Wide Web. “Let’s celebrate, and let’s constantly work to make more, better, cleaner, stronger, deeper interoperability across the planet.” Added Craig Newmark: “OneWebDay reminds us that the net really is a democratizing medium, that everyone gets a chance to participate. If you want, you can stick your neck out and speak truth to power.”

Even though OneWebDay is just a few days away, you can still get involved. Have your students make a contribution to the time capsule. Ask them to write letters to the editor about the role of the Internet in their lives and how they thing it impacts our democracy. Spend some time debating the importance of YouTube in the election. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, you and your students can be a part of the festivities, and hopefully gain some insights about online civic participation in the process.

As for me, I’m winging it - my wife and I are expecting a baby any day now. Maybe we could celebrate OneWebDay by having Internet users select a name for us. Then again, maybe not. :-)

Happy OneWebDay, everyone. And don’t forget to talk like a pirate while you’re at it, matey. -andy

Filed under : Events

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