Internet connections: Are we more globally interconnected?

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Last week I found a comment posted on a June, 2006 entry titled:
“World Party.” In the initial post, we described an innovative international
school in Seattle that promotes global citizenship through a wide range of activities, including
participation in “World Party Day.” In his comment, Gerry Owens directed
readers to a Wikipedia article on “World Party Day.” I was fascinated to
learn about this event described by Wikipedia as “a synchronized global mass
celebration of a better world and the creation of desirable reality.” As Gerry
points out, World Party Day, first held in April 1996, was inspired by the 1995
novel Flight, A Quantum Fiction Novel
by Vanna Bonta, which described a “world party” to take place in the year 2000.
The actual 1996 event was facilitated through communication over the internet,
and has continued in the 10+ years since as an annual tradition. In effect, a
fictional event from a novel was made real through the shared enthusiasm of its
readers. What an intriguing concept and testament to the internet’s power as a
tool for communication and mass mobilization.

Indeed, this process of relatively minor–or even fictional–events
gaining attention, and ultimately becoming newsworthy through grassroots, viral
communication over the internet seems to reflect a growing trend. Just yesterday
afternoon I attended a lecture at National Geographic headquarters in which a
‘trends’ expert presented research related to online social networking, the
online video ‘craze’ and other topics of the Pew Foundation’s “Internet and
American Life Project.”

What should we make of these trends? Many praise the
internet, blogs, and You Tube as ‘democratizing’ forces that allow anyone with
computer access to interact with others around the globe and spread ideas to
even further reaches. But does open access to people, resources, and ideas
across the world actually lead internet users to think and act globally, as the
organization of World Party Day would seem to suggest? Or are these effects
overshadowed by other aspects of internet use?

Tell Us: Do you
feel more globally connected as a result of using the internet? How do you use
the internet to learn about and interact with people around the world?

This question is of critical interest to My Wonderful World,
where internet and social networking technologies can fuel our efforts to
connect people with their world and others in it.

Sarah for My Wonderful World

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