An Earth Day for the Internet


Way back in September, I organized an event at Media Bridges for the third-annual One Web Day, which is a cool event that some of your organizations might be interested in participating in.

One Web Day is a sort of “Earth Day for the Internet,” that was celebrated Sept. 22 with virtual and in-person events in cities across the country to promote a free and open internet. The goal is to help people understand the possibilities the internet can offer to them, and motivate people to protect it as a public resource.

“People's lives now are as dependent on the Internet as they are on the basics like roads, energy supplies and running water," One Web Day founder Susan Crawford said in a news release. "We can no longer take that for granted and we must advocate for the Internet politically, and support its vitality personally."

This year's theme was the internet and its effect on democratic participation in an election year. So we planned a panel discussion on the topic of “The Next President, the Internet, and the Disconnected City,” where people in Cincinnati could talk directly to the presidential candidates’ telecommunications policy advisors, via Skype. We invited representatives from the Obama, McCain and Nader campaigns. Since Media Bridges is a non-partisan public access station, I hoped our event could include discussions of more candidates’ positions, but unfortunately the McCain and Nader campaigns could not send representatives.

Our lone panelist was Obama’s telecommunications advisor Gigi Sohn, who phoned in from Washington D.C. and we projected her image onto a projector screen. Our audience was small but enthusiastic, and included some students, cable access producers, bloggers, media activists, a lawyer, and one 11-year old.

Despite the 11-year-old, the event had nothing to do with my job developing the youth media program, but it was a good event planning practice and experience using some of the internet tools. We incorporated the internet in everything we did for the event, which was tedious and scary for me, but my fellow (non-CTC) VISTA Katie did the web work and patiently explained it to me. We downloaded a program that allowed us to record the video and audio from Skype (we had to pay for it but I’d be interested to know if anyone knows of free versions out there), and posted the entire event to a One Web Day page we created using WordPress. The page also has a video from interviews we did with people at the downtown farmer’s market, where we asked people how they used the internet and what they’d like to see the new president do.