On Saturday, people around the world will be celebrating OneWebDay, a global Earth Day for the Internet, according to the event’s organizer.
The idea behind OneWebDay is to urge people to reflect on the changes the Internet has made in their lives, how it should not be taken granted and to think about its future, said Susan Crawford, a visiting cyberlaw professor at the University of Michigan.
Users also need to understand that they’re responsible for the Internet and that they should take some action on Saturday that celebrates the positive affect the Internet has on the world while also highlighting the problems with the flow of information over the Internet and access.
Crawford said the Internet is under threat in a variety of ways. There are problems with access in developing countries, including censorship, which goes on in China and 40 other coutnries, Crawford said.
“We need to ensure that the Internet used by future generations will be open and empowering — access to the Internet is central to the future of humanity,” she said in a statement.
Crawford said there will be events in several countries including Poland, Bulgaria, Belgium, Ecuador, Ethopia, Italy, Colombia and Taiwan as well as in several U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Boston, Austin, and New York. In Canada, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), has set up its own OneWebDay.ca site featuring video interviews with Canadians about their own online experiences.
“OneWebDay is a day to reflect and do some good works,” she said. “It’s not just about consciousness raising, it’s also to teach people how to use the Internet, how to edit a wiki, how to upload a blog post.”
In New York, for example, there will be free classes at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. In Ethopia, cybercafes in Addis Ababa will offer Internet access at discounted rates, and volunteers will teach new users how to get online.
“The idea is that you learn enough of a skill in order to teach somebody else,” Crawford said. “[These classes] can be run through universities or just by individuals who want to take it upon themselves to teach others, like teaching an older person how to send pictures to their grandchildren.”
Last year, Crawford told people about the event by talking up the idea everywhere she went and trying to enlist participants. This year, she said she was helped enormously by the Internet Society, a nonprofit organization that addresses issues confronting the future of the Internet, and has 80 chapters worldwide.
“It’s important for people to leave a piece of themselves online on Sept. 22. Upload a video about how the Web has changed their lives or teach somebody else,” she said. “It’s also important for people to recognize that the Web is made up of people, not just machines.”