Posted by: sarahmeyers | June 11, 2007

Change The World!

I think of time like bandwidth. It’s such a problem and I simply don’t have the bandwidth to squeeze in everything I need. As new technologies develop we are able to store more data and finish more work at a faster pace. The Internet is enabling us to achieve our goals. I am fascinated by the Electric Sheep screen saver. When I met Spot Draves, the inventor, in San Francisco, he told me that the beautifully complex imagery you see on the screen saver is enabled because there are 40,000 computers that support the server, collectively, because there is no one server that can hold the data due to the bandwidth problem. I found this to be beautiful just like the Internet because it forms a collective consciousness anyone can be a part of. The Internet would not be what it is if it were not for the people’s voices that collaborate and build intelligence. Just look at Wikipedia, for example; it’s a place of collective intelligence where people collaborate to contribute to a universal exchange of information. These are two macro examples of what new communication technologies are doing to help humanity.

A micro example of the Internet as a tool to help humanity is online education. It brings students together across boarders to listen and learn from one another just as the voices of bloggers are heard over the Internet.

President Clinton inspired me when I heard him speak at his fundraiser for the Clinton Foundation in San Francisco. If we collect and congregate we instigate change. He says that virtual connections will evoke compassion in the world. We can feel compassionate enough to act. If pictures say one thousand words then how many words are spoken in motion pictures? Video on the net is changing all that because for the first time it is so easy and accessible to anyone. Things like Mac’s iMovie allows anyone to adapt to the technology because it is so easy. I want to encourage people with a voice to adapt this simple and affordable technology to build communities and their voices. Social Networking is an important element to video on the net because it is how you record your life to further your interactions with others. Many times the connections build virtually and lead into physical interactions particularly when feelings are evoked through the use of imagery.

I’m proud to say that the hours I’ve spent online changed my life and the hours other people spend online are changing the world. As Bill Clinton said at the Fairmont Hotel for his Clinton foundation fundraiser, “the communication and payment methods are changing the world.” He used Hurricane Katrina as an example of how the Internet allowed for instantaneous donations to the victims of the natural disaster. Like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak wanted to change the world through the invention of the personal computer, the Internet is doing the same. Technology is getting cheaper and more assessable to a growing population. The more people whom come together to contribute and share collectively the more we will see the empowerment and democratization of communication.


Responses

  1. Hi Sarah, I share your sentiments. Hence, here are follow-ups to your points:

    – Blogging to change the world:

    Some areas devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are still deeply affected ~2 years later. When you get a chance, please set aside at least 30 minutes to read our “One Brick New Orleans Trip” blog and learn more about the rich experiences of the volunteers who have visited St Bernard Parish, and get a taste of why your help is so crucial.

    One Brick New Orleans Trip – http://www.onebrick.org/blog/NewOrleans2007.asp

    Our blog has motivated people in wanting to join future trips, to make an impact and have fun. I am exploring ways to video blog future One Brick trips. If you and / or other video bloggers would like to help, please let me know; thanks.

    – Empowerment of communication:

    When I think of online interactions, I often view it as a supplement to in-person activities. Here’s an exception to the rule…

    During my online-pictionary-playing days…While waiting for my turn, I often chatted with various players. After months of banter, one player disclosed to me that he is deaf.

    Intrigued (due to my ignorance, since I don’t know anyone who’s deaf), I learned about his experiences in watching movies at theaters, “hearing” music through other senses, and opinions on cochlear implants and deaf culture.

    As our discussion progressed, my curiosity peaked. I then asked what it would be like if he and I bumped into each other at a grocery store.

    He explained to me that if we spoke in person, our conversation would slower-paced, with him writing a lot on notepads, because I don’t know American Sign Language, and he types faster than he can write on paper.

    Technology and the chat medium enabled us to communicate more efficiently than we could have in-person. Not only did technology empower him (a person with a disability), it empowered me (a person without disabilities) as well.

  2. Distributed computing projects like Electric Sheep are quite interesting, it goes to show that you don’t need a super-computer to handle intense amounts of number crunching – you just need enough volunteers. The idea of a large group of people coming together to contribute their computing power for a cause is quite commendable.
    Still, you have to remember the dark side of distributed computing, which powers the zombie armies of the bot nets that fire out spam and conduct DDoS attacks around the net. I dunno if you read about it, but Estonia was recently the victim of a concentrated DDoS attack that crippled government, education and media sites in that Baltic nation, and it was all carried out in essentially the same way that Electric Sheep draws up wavy fractal frames of Electric Sheep.
    Remember, as Brent Staples recently wrote, Philip K. Dick (whose novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep inspired the name of our beloved screen saver) was decidedly techno-dystopian in his work. I suspect he’d be expecting more of the troublesome botnets and less of the SETI@home and Electric Sheep type projects.

    Some links:
    ‘Russia Accused of Unleashing Cyber-War to Disable Estonia’, The Guardian
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,2081438,00.html

    ‘Philip K. Dick – a Sage of the Future Whose Time Has Finally Come’, The New York Times
    http://www.mail-archive.com/scifinoir2@yahoogroups.com/msg10273.html

  3. Pepper,

    I read “Russia Accused of Unleashing Cyber – War to Disable Estonia’ and would like to thank you for pointing out the other side of the debate. Bringing people together can be for good or for bad. It’s the types of people that come together for the cause that counts. I encourage voices to be heard and the virtual congregation. There will be armies that form due to the possibilities of human nature, however, the ripple effect of the empowered congregations will triumph over evil- at least that’s what I like to think.

  4. Hello Sarah,

    Your post inspired me. I came across your blog through a video you published on gizmodo.com

    Could you please post the URL to a video or podcast of President Clintons speech at the fundraiser (If this exists..)

    Thanks!

  5. Andrew,

    I did not film any video of the event and I don’t have a podcast of it. I wish I did.

  6. Famous Inventors

    Famous Inventors


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