p2pnet special:- Running p2pnet can be very satisfying and one of the nicest emails I’ve had this year came from Susan Crawford.
Wikipedia describes her as a, “prominent media internet legal scholar and professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law” and p2pnet has been fortunate enough to carry a number of her posts.
She’s famous on- and offline, “for her pithy, lucid and very much to-the-point views on Net events of many different flavours,” we posted in 2005, but more recently, she’s become famous internationally as one of the main movers behind OneWebDay, a now-annual event.
“Will you be a OneWebDay Ambassador?” – she asked me a little while ago.
No worries. It’s an honour and a privilege.
So what exactly is OneWebDay? It’s a wonderful way to focus on the Net as the world’s most powerful means of communication.
But there are forces which would would like to subjugate it, bringing it under their total and exclusive control.
Not if Crawford and the people supporting her and the OneWebDay movement can help it.
“Every September 22 is an Earth Day for the internet,” she explains.
“It’s a day to celebrate, educate, and activate – do good works and raise consciousness about the threats to the internet around the world.”
For the 100 days before OneWebDay, “we will be anointing/calling on 100 OWD ambassadors to each take one day to talk to their community about their values – and how those values tie to OneWebDay’s 2008 theme of participatory democracy,” says the OWD Ambassador site, going on:
“The idea is for the ambassadors to introduce new people to OneWebDay, while we in turn introduce them to the wider OneWebDay family.”
In a short Q&A, “What inspired you to come up with it?” – I asked Crawford >>>
Susan Crawford: It seemed to me that we were at risk of taking the internet for granted. Meanwhile, many different forms of pre-internet businesses (including law enforcement, Hollywood studios, and telephone companies, just to name a few) were waking up and arguing (and acting) as if they should be in control of internet communications. Most people who use the internet don’t understand that it’s not the same as a telephone network. I thought we needed to make these issues visible, and make the people who care about the future of the internet visible to one another. I didn’t do this alone – a lot of people have gotten involved over the years. This is the third OneWebDay.
p2pnet: Is there any one thing above all others you hope it’ll achieve in 2008?
Susan Crawford: I’d like to see more involvement by people in developing countries. Connectivity and censorship are major issues, and I’m hoping the word will spread beyond the developed world both online and through groups like the Internet Society. A top priority is involving schools and kids.
p2pnet: And is there any one thing you’d ask people to do to make it a success?
Susan Crawford: I’d like to see people getting involved by going to http://www.onewebday.org/base/index.php/OneWebDay_in_a_box and hosting meetings to talk about internet issues in their homes or classrooms. Lots of tiny events like these, particularly involving young people, will help awareness grow around the world.
p2pnet: Censorship in many and varied forms is increasing as large corporations and self-serving administrations strive to gain control of how the Web is used, and by whom. What can OneWebDay do to help stop this?
Susan Crawford: We make progress when we make things visible. Earth Day, for example, didn’t take off until we saw a picture of the earth from space – a fragile blue marble in a black void. We can’t *see* the threats to online communication in our day-to-day lives – OneWebDay can help make specific control problems visible, and raise consciousness about the power of network operators in many countries to constrain internet access.
p2pnet: With this in mind, what role can OneWebDay have in the Net Neutrality battle?
Susan Crawford: OneWebDay is a platform for use by anyone. It’s yours. It can be used to raise awareness about the risks to the open internet – press conferences, rock concerts, teach-ins, anything. To the extent that groups want to use OneWebDay for activism about Net Neutrality (which is no longer just a US issue) the day can provide a useful focus for these efforts – useful for press coverage.
p2pnet: Blogs are only now really coming into their own. How important are they to the growth of the Net as the principal communications vehicle of the twenty first digital century, and in OneWebDay as a manifestation of that?
Susan Crawford: The big idea is “up” – uploading our own stuff online. Blogs, video sites, photography – there’s an explosion of user-generated content online. Part of the goal of OneWebDay is to encourage everyone to leave a bit of themselves online. Although the internet seems to be a collection of machines, it’s actually a deeply-human network, optimized for human communication. Let’s not take that for granted- it’s not a broadcast network.
p2pnet: OneWebDay is a massive undertaking with scores of famous people such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the web, involved in it, and promoting it. Given that, how important are ordinary people to it, and what can they do to get involved themselves?
Susan Crawford: We’re all ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. One of the great things about the Net is how it empowers all of us to communicate freely. Everyone is important to OneWebDay. To get involved, go to OneWebDay.org and click on “40 Ways to Celebrate OneWebDay”. The theme this year is online participatory democracy – so here’s an idea – send an email to the mayor and ask him/her to proclaim OneWebDay in your city.
p2pnet: Can children also play a part?
Susan Crawford: Absolutely – children are key to OneWebDay. Something like telling a story online, or creating a class wiki – labeling these things OneWebDay and telling us about them – these would be great OWD events. Try to imagine what the world would be like without the internet.
Would you like to be a OWD ambassador? Or do you know someone you believe should be included? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Newton - p2pnet
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