Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Tool of Choice

In effect, I feel like a blind, deaf, and illiterate person working through the sensibilities and multiple, real talents of other people. Everything I do is collaborative. - Godfrey Reggio

Perhaps it's my background in labor that has honed my intent. Just maybe it was my life within the building trades and the familiarity with tools that have helped focus my use of the Internet as yet another tool? I can't be sure how much of my history has influenced the paths I take today - but after all is said and done, I have to believe my history is my personal map of paths, my compilation of life, my stories - and therefore I alone must assume the responsibility for my actions!

Reggio's quote reminded me of the countless numbers of multi-talented people I have been exposed to thanks entirely to this technological tool. The thought of the combined knowledge and wisdom of these learned people I have met on the web is enough to keep alive my hope for a better world. If not for the Internet, the possibilities of my life paths intersecting with such talented people would be sparse at best. I am thankful to be alive in a time when people from all stripes can come together and share thoughts and ideas in meaningful discussions. I have been fortunate indeed to have met so many people around this globe who understand that our sustainability - our future - depends on our connections and the use of this social tool. I thank them all for their willingness to collaborate and for their sincerity and honesty.

Lately I have been told by a few people to lighten up...have fun...quit bitching. Due to my responses to these people, a few of them have chosen to "deface" me on "The" book...some were even long term friends in my physical world. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely not complaining...this is highly acceptable to me...I would much rather they deface me than continue to have to endure my social activities of which they do not agree. Many of my acquaintances also feel the web's primary purpose is for shits and giggles rather than activism and social responsibility. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using the web for entertainment and for having's just that I see it's use for this function as secondary to it's use as a social tool.

I mostly agree with Switzerland's Paula Uimonen in her piece from '97 entitled "The Internet as a Tool for Social Development". In the essay, Uimonen argues that - "the Internet can only become a tool for social development if it is applied in a way that addresses the complex challenges of improving the lives of the least-privileged and most-needy millions around the world. Social development here means in improvement in the living standards and general well-being of all members of any given society. Accordingly, if the Internet is to be socially beneficial, it needs to be used for alleviating poverty, improving access to health care and education, conserving and fairly distributing resources, and strengthening participation in decision-making processes. Thus the success of the Internet should be measured less in terms of sheer numbers of connected individuals and more in terms of accessibility and contribution to social progress."

Uimonen also mentions a very important aspect of our new communication abilities...that technology in itself is not a determinant of change, only a facilitator. She continues, "As with any other technology, it is the social context within which these new technologies are introduced and, more importantly, implemented, that determines their usage and impact. Accordingly, we are not hopelessly caught in a wave of historical change; we are the ones bringing it about." Nelson Mandela also pointed out - "If we cannot ensure that this global revolution creates a world-wide information society in which everyone has a stake and can play a part, then it will not have been a revolution at all."

When I finally decided to become "wired", it was not because I was seeking a new means of entertainment. I took that step to "rewire" because of the injustices I was witnessing, and because I felt it was necessary - out of social responsibility - to participate in the conversation and discussion concerning the social issues that have proved to be detrimental to humanity. Yes I began this Internet journey as a union reformist, but as I quickly discovered...that was only the door into the bigger web world of social justice. The quote comes to mind, "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

To try to button up this drivel, I understand those who choose to use this technology for things other than promoting social well being around the world, and that is their right. I will not be pointing my finger at any of them and wailing about how they are not being socially responsible and missing a great opportunity. But I expect the same consideration from them...I think I am quite able to determine how I choose to use my time on the Internet. So to paraphrase the old Rifleman's Creed...I give you the Keyboarder's Creed:

This is my keyboard. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My keyboard is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. My keyboard, without me, is useless. Without my keyboard, I am useless. I must use my keyboard true. I must expose untruths that my enemy plants to destroy me. I must expose him before he destroys me. I will....

My keyboard and myself know that what counts in this war is not the amount of words we post, the noise of our outbursts, nor the number of stories we post. We know that it is the truths that count. We will share the truth...

My keyboard is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weakness, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its USB and its shortcuts. I will keep my keyboard clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

Before Gawd I swear this creed. My keyboard and myself are the defenders against injustice. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory belongs to the people and there is no enemy, but Peace.

Mitakuye Oyasin


Blogger cile said...

I, for what it is worth, am glad you still stay the course to inform and enlighten, Randy. I hope you continue to do so.

I couldn't help but think of TV as you reflected on the computer and the internet. That, too, was touted at its inception as a great mechanism for connecting people and social change. Hopefully we can keep this tool in the hands of all people and not let it fall prey to the usual subjects. It will surly suffer a better fate as "ours". It *has* and *will* accomplish great profundity...and great silliness...carrying us ever forward.

Friday, 19 February, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Extremely well said brother Randy. I don't use the term "brother" lightly. While we've never physically met, the Internet has enabled us to virtually meet and come to know each other better than we both suspect. While I don't have the passion that you possess nor necessarily agree with you all the time, I feel a strong brotherly bond based upon shared experiences and respect. May you use your tool well . . .

Saturday, 20 February, 2010  

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