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Web 2.0 and Social Responsibility

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I meant to have this posted yesterday – I actually started work on it on Friday night. However, when the subject is as important as the suffering of other human beings, words seem to fail me. I am sure I have not done the subject justice, so please feel free to chip in with your thoughts.

Okay, so yesterday was not the most uplifting blog I’ve ever written. It may not even be the most informed. Hopefully, though, it was thought-provoking and chock full of resources.

Today, I’m writing about the possibilities of information being shared to affect positive changes. This is largely due to an inspiring MSNBC article I read about two men caught in the current conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Since July 12th, Dovster, an Israeli living on the Lebanese border, and BEYflyer, a Lebanese living in Beirut, have been posting nearly real-time updates of the conflict on a travel forum to which they both belong.

What makes this thread so different from all the other coverage of the war was a) the absolute lack of enmity and b) their obvious concern and affection for each other. Oh, to be sure, they have differences of opinion on foreign policy, but they’ve approached these differences with a refreshing absence of rhetoric and a genuine concern for all involved. Even more inspiring is the public’s response to such a positive approach. As word has spread through media outlets and the blogosphere, FlyerTalk.com has been inundated with new members. At the time of this writing there have been 173, 157 views and 1,146 posts on this thread, and almost to a one they’ve been supportive and focused on good wishes for both men and their respective countries.

Clearly the world is interested in what goes on with its neighbors, and the convergence of Web 2.0 with global internet access, mobile phones, and digital cameras has succeeded in not only bringing news into our living rooms, but made it personal as well. Now in addition to the blanket plea for worldwide peace in my nighttime prayers, I’m actually praying for specific individuals that I’d know on sight.

More importantly, as I read the blogs and posts made by people experiencing these tragedies, I experience a deeper understanding of the situation as I become better educated about their customs, their beliefs, and their history. In my view, this ability to network socially – beyond borders – is one of the best things the Web 2.0 platform has going for it.

It’s not just the bloggers that are making a difference in the way the world perceives people of other cultures. World photographers and videographers have been just as busy capturing the images of war and posting them to such folksonomy-based sites as Flickr and YouTube. For the first time in history, these digital captures are showing the true face of war, without edits or censorship, to everyday citizens of the world. (Note: The following link contains VERY graphic, VERY disturbing photos. They are photos of the carnage in Lebanon, and no matter your political views, represent the result of war. I have included the link, after much soul searching, because this is, after all, a post about social accountability. If we don’t know the consequences, then how can we make informed decisions?)

It is my hope that we as world citizens, will take advantage of this flood of global information to educate ourselves, and share that education with others. The Web 2.0 platform gives us an ability to organize people and initiatives on a global scale, and to let world leaders know that we’re watching and hold them – and ourselves – accountable.

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  1. The Cachinnator says:

    It kinda makes your mind wander into hopeful mode, doesn’t it?

  2. Dovster says:

    Today marks exactly one year since the war began. The FlyerTalk thread eventually grew to 3284 posts (including 7 by Dani)and 443,232 views.

    During the year, BEYFlyer and I have become close, albeit cyber, friends. That will change on the weekend of Oct 26 when we will finally meet in person.

    Along with a group of other FlyerTalkers (currently over 40 said they will join us) we will be getting together in Boca Raton,

    Needless to say, Dani would be a very welcome addition should she decide to join us.

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