Check out this FluNearYou video, which is the result of a phenomenal collaboration by a hospital, a public health association, and a funder. The government should be monitoring and taking action to prevent this national threat, but they’re not doing much of anything right now (or ever?), so it’s lucky that this project is stepping in.

Lucy Berholz shared thoughts on this collaboration on her blog, Philanthropy 2173

This is essentially crowdsourcing information on behalf of public health. We’re also seeing citizen crowdfund for city services that aren’t available through tax revenue – see this story on security in Oakland. What we need to ensure is that these types of actions work with government and each extends the other. If we get to the point where we are relying on crowds to fund core public services, our democracy will be in even more trouble than it is now. But if we can use the crowd platforms to engage people, to partner with the public sector, to expand and complement civic responsibility than we’ll be that much the better for it.Understanding these forms of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing as political acts – and designing them for maximum public benefit – is a big opportunity.

Is Connectivity A Human Right?

via Facebook:

Today, only 2.7 billion people are online — a little more than one third of the world. That is growing by less than 9% a year, but that’s slow considering how early we are in the internet’s development. Even though projections show most people will get smartphones in the next decade, most people still won’t have data access because the cost of data remains much more expensive than the price of a smartphone.

Facebook has presented a “rough plan” for bringing access to 5 billion more people. I’m not sure about Facebook’s plan, but I do think connectivity introduces important access to information and growth opportunities to people (among many, many other things). In that sense, and in the same way that good health and healthcare is something that I consider a right (in addition to your standard food, clothing, and shelter), yes, connectivity is a right.

What do you think; is connectivity a right? And how do Facebook’s argument and plan hold up?

Is Connectivity A Human Right?

I was a victim of cyber bullying during my freshman year of college. I will never forget the moment I was sitting at my favorite campus coffee shop, glancing through anonymous posts on a collegiate online forum, when I saw my name. The post said, “Melanie – you’re fat. If you cared more about your weight, people would care more about you.” I blinked back tears and ran to my dorm room in a daze as questions rushed through my mind. Who wrote this post? Are they right about me? Do other peers of mine think this too? I was mortified beyond belief, and for months after I read the post, I no longer felt safe or at home in my college community. The post triggered my deepest insecurities, and led me to constantly criticize myself. It shattered my self-esteem and my flawless perception of the community I had so recently become a part of.

I have come a long way since that moment back at the coffee shop. I am almost ready to graduate with a double major in Government and Sociology, I hold numerous leadership roles on campus, and I look forward to a vibrant career in social justice advocacy. Despite all this, I will never forget how strongly those hateful words affected my life and how my experience with cyber bullying was minor compared to the experiences of many others on this collegiate online forum. Cruel messages can lead to eating disorders, insecurities with sexual orientation, suicide, the perpetuation of stereotypes, and unnecessary tears. Let’s remember the true impact that our words can have on others, and the power that we all have to make sure that our words are kind ones.

via an email to the listserve.

Cyber bullying is indeed a huge problem; I know few people in my generation who have not in some way been affected by it. Melanie’s message is simple, raw, and powerful. I hope that by sharing it, awareness of words and actions, especially those that are amplified online, becomes clearer to folks who find hatefulness ok.