Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Power of the Internet - An Open Letter to My Students

The internet is a powerful place. Using its power, you can divide people and encourage hatred or you can inspire people and encourage peace. You get to choose which you will do.

Regardless of how you feel about our President-Elect Barack Obama, he understands the power of the internet. He was able to collect millions of dollars for his campaign by setting up an easy donation spot online that allowed people to donate $5 or $10 a piece. He used email to connect with his constituents. He used online communication tools like Facebook and Twitter to keep people informed about his ideas. And, as president, he is planning to deliver a weekly YouTube address to the world. That is power. You can read more about this in Robert Wanderman’s blog.

President-Elect Obama is not the only person to understand the power of the internet. Laura Stockman also understands its power. She is a middle school student who, when she was 10 years old, set up a blog to change the world. Laura created a site called Twenty-Five Days to Make a Difference. She decided to raise money to donate to a charity of her choosing. Through the power of the internet, she was able to reach 10s of thousands of people and collected more money than she ever thought possible. She has kept the blog going and now donates the money the way her readers want her to.
There are, unfortunately, just as many examples of people using the power of the internet for bad instead of good. One of the first sites you can find when searching for information on Martin Luther King, Jr. is This site seems to have factual information. But when you look further, you find it was created by a group called Stormfront. Stormfront is a white supremist organization whose goal is to create an all white United States. They use the power of the internet to spread misinformation about various races. And many people believe them.
So what kind of message do you want to send to the world? Every time you post a comment to a blog, every time you write your own blog, every time
you send out an email, a text, an instant message, you are harnessing the power. How are you going to use this power? To spread hope and peace or hatred? Think carefully before you post.

'Obey Obama?'
Day 78 - Peace'
Web 2.0''Orange Glow'

1 comment:

Brian said...

Hi Lisa! I might share this post with my class too. We are possibly starting a project here that would benefit a local group (The Reno Bike Project). They take donations of old bikes and fix them up and give them away and also run a bike shop where you can come in and for a small charge use their tools to work on your own bike and they help you. I meet with the guys running it tomorrow to nail things down.